Scientific Productivity | Managing the Lab | Supply Chain

7 Tips for Lab Managers of Emerging Biotech Startups

The pandemic and economic uncertainty, along with supply chain challenges for biotech labs forced lab managers to relook their internal processes. A significant number of labs slowed down research output during the pandemic. But as the world gets back on its feet, the industry is on the rise and ready to get back to research.

The State of the Biotech Industry

In 2022, industry experts predict a rise in biotech research in the field, particularly pharmaceutical development and research on treatments for rare diseases. Compensating for more than a year lost to the pandemic and keeping up with the pace of the growth, lab managers all over the world are preparing their labs and lab strategy for 2022 to get back to innovating.

Tips for Lab Managers of Emerging Biotech Startups

As a biotech grows from a few bench scientists in a shared lab space, to an incubator, to a brand new lab in the clinical phase of development, systems grow more complex. Lab managers running growing biotech lab operations need to be organized, rely on technology, and develop relationships with lab finance teams and vendors.

Books for Biotech Founders

Biotech leaders are committed to helping the next generation of scientists to be successful and push the limits of science and technology through research. Biotech founders can learn the lessons that their predecessors had to experience the hard way and be strategic, efficient, and sustainable from the start.

Read on for recommendations of books for biotech founders and lab managers to help inspire, educate, motivate, and entertain.

1. Prioritize data management

Data is the backbone of any biotech lab. A significant challenge for growing biotech's is to manage huge volumes of data. Labs are prone to data breaches, overloading the system, or not having processes in place to synthesize the data and make it usable.

In order to innovate and scale faster, labs need to utilize the data and identify patterns. Biotech's win big when they invest in prioritizing data management from an early stage.

2. Use data to guide lab management

Accurate, complete, and organized data can significantly contribute to the growth of a biotech lab. Proper data management helps labs cut extra costs that are unnecessary and repetitive. Automated data processes can minimize errors, enabling labs to operate more efficiently and identify areas for optimization.

3. Use lab software to your advantage, including a LIMS

Lab Information Management Systems (LIMS) allow lab managers to manage inventory, keep track of orders, plan and monitor experiments, and manage budgets effectively.

A cloud-based LIMS eliminates the manual effort and brings multiple benefits to labs such as improved productivity, better team collaboration, and overall cost savings. Let’s explore why lab managers love LIMS so much.

  • Automate quality control process to ensure better compliance with quality standards
  • Generate custom reports to analyze past orders and expenditure
  • Record data like instrument purchase and maintenance, customer details, and employee training
  • Budget forecasting and management
  • Reduce manual effort and eliminate human error

4. Switch to online marketplaces for lab supply management

Vendor management isn’t usually thought of as “simple” or something that lab managers look forward to. Lab managers at biotech's can be responsible for tens or hundreds of vendors, from service suppliers, to lab supply companies, to waste disposal services. In 2020 and 2021, sourcing vendors became a challenge, and due to limited product availability, biotech's started using 50% more vendors.

Lab managers are constantly looking for ways to cut back on the manual, tedious tasks like sourcing and managing new supply vendors. This is where an online life sciences marketplace comes in.

Platforms like ZAGENO enable life science researchers and lab managers to spend more time on science than on manual tasks like sourcing material and managing inventories. Lab managers can access hundreds of vendors under the umbrella of a singular vendor of record, easily search for products, and access up-to-date shipping information on orders.

5. Work closely with your biotech finance team

Your lab is making strides in the industry and all of a sudden, you need to scale exponentially to meet growing popularity and consumer demands. While that’s the dream come true for all lab managers, this success can come with a series of challenges if there’s a discrepancy between the teams.

Often, finance teams are unprepared for rapid expansions due to things like unforeseen costs, overwhelming workload requiring new hires, or expensive machinery. To avoid such roadblocks, lab managers should work with the financial team to plan ahead and budget for unexpected costs. To truly scale your lab, you need to ensure that your finances are in sync with your expansion plans.

6. Lean on experts whenever possible

Scaling a biotech startup doesn’t exactly have a playbook that works every time. But what’s better than learning it from experts who’ve been in your shoes before?

Seek out advice from lab managers at established biotech startups, and partner with organizations that understand your needs as a life science research lab. Professional groups or social communities for lab managers on sites like Reddit can also be a great source for venting, soliciting advice, or troubleshooting very specific Western Blot questions.

(Did you know that ZAGENO offers expert scientist advice when shopping for lab supplies and consumables?)

7. Explore flexible research spaces

For labs looking at exponential growth in the coming months, relocating to a better designed and more flexible lab space is an investment worth making. Just as important as it is for the new lab space to support the lab’s potential growth, lab managers must consider the perks for today’s lab employees before investing in a better lab space.

In addition to work-related factors like proper ventilation, storage areas, waste management systems, permissions, and policies, the new lab space should be in proximity to lab staff and have space for team collaboration and employee recreation. Finding new lab real estate can be tedious, but when done right, can set your lab up for scientific success.

While a major part of a lab manager’s job is to facilitate new discoveries and undertake exciting research, your work doesn’t end there. Lab managers keep labs moving forward and bear the responsibility of managing their expansion and growth.

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