Biotech research and development (R&D) is one of the hottest high-growth industries, stoking an innovation renaissance in products after the pandemic that reinforced imperatives for healthcare breakthroughs like lifesaving vaccines and personalized medicine. True innovators are digitally transforming to increase speed to market and address regulatory compliance in this R&D-driven sector.

One example is STEMCELL Technologies, Canada’s leading life sciences research company that sees itself as a company of scientists helping scientists. Based in Vancouver, STEMCELL has a 30-year history of growth in developing and manufacturing products and services that help other industrial and academic scientists innovate in the areas of stem cell, immunology, cancer, regenerative medicine, and cellular therapy research. STEMCELL has staff in 20 countries and sells a constantly expanding portfolio of over 2,500 products, including cell culture media, cell separation technologies, instruments, and accessories, as well as education and services. Reducing the time to market for new products is crucial to the company’s mission of pursuing life sciences discoveries leading to the next generation of healthcare treatments.

“We’re always looking for ways to accelerate time to market for new products and adapt our technology environment to meet the evolving needs of our internal stakeholders and external customers,” said John Lilleyman, CIO at STEMCELL. “Advanced discoveries in areas like precision medicine are bringing new hope to patients and their families. At the same time, we have to comply with increasingly stringent global mandates for sustainable packaging and product safety.”

Faster Innovation with SAP S/4HANA

Since STEMCELL went live with SAP S/4HANA, the biotech leader has been intent on using the latest innovations from SAP to help speed up product testing. Speaking during a session held at this year’s SAP Sapphire & ASUG Annual Conference Orlando, Lilleyman shared the company’s strategy for effective and fully automated software with SAP.

“We’re particularly excited about the cloud-first innovations from RISE with SAP, which will help us deliver a more sustainable solution, continuously meet security and compliance requirements, and set us up for success with future upgrades,” he said. “With a new test-automation strategy, we can make sure that testing is an accelerator and not a bottleneck to change.”

Automation Expedites Rigorous Product Testing

STEMCELL doesn’t create end-user patient therapies. Rather, the company develops the products and solutions that help other life sciences researchers innovate for new therapeutic discoveries. To develop these solutions for other scientists, STEMCELL performs rigorous product quality testing to comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other global regulatory frameworks and guidelines.

Replacing manual testing with a highly automated process has generated significant results for the company. To date, STEMCELL has reduced the time required to complete SAP system validation for GxP “good practice” guidelines and regulations by 86%, test quote-to-cash scenarios by 97%, and execute a full regression cycle by 98%.

“Instead of taking the better part of a month or more, most of the testing is now completed in a handful of days or less,” said Lilleyman. “This is a tremendous accelerator for our business and our teams. We’ll be able to take advantage of enhancements in SAP solutions faster. It will continue to pay dividends every day, week, month, and year as we move forward, expanding our footprint in new product markets and locations.”

Digital Helps Fast-Track Global Expansion

Averaging 20% annual growth, STEMCELL has made digitalization central to its strategy for bringing products to market faster and more sustainably. Lilleyman said that speeding up testing in compliance with global mandates will help the company as it expands worldwide.

“Cloud-based automation at all stages of testing helps move us towards continuous compliance in a continuously changing market,” he said. “As we continue to expand our inventory for testing, we’ll be able to accelerate upcoming projects as we open up in different environments. We can have a library with a simple checklist to set up a new entity where we can test end-to-end. We can shift the testing burden away from business users to release innovations faster with completed testing.”

He looked ahead to greater benefits from further automation, including on-demand validation reports for updated system testing and quality controls. Speedier testing from STEMCELL is making the lives of researchers easier by accelerating the release of the tools they need to in turn deliver advanced, patient-centric therapeutic discoveries for a healthier world.

Susan Galer is a communications director. Follow me @smgaler.