Sartorius sets up innovative AI testing lab

The Göttingen-based German life sciences company Sartorius has set up a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory together with the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Kaiserslautern. Known as the Sartorius AI Lab (SAIL), the facility is dedicated to testing AI in Sartorius products and platform solutions.

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The ultimate goal of the project, which is based at DFKI, is to use AI to speed and streamline the development of drugs and other healthcare products. Sartorius's Chief Technology Officer, Oscar-Werner Reif explained, "Our aim is to use better methods of data analysis and the increasing computer capacities to map and simulate the development and production of biopharmaceuticals in computers in the future. As a result, development times and costs for new therapies will improve dramatically by an accelerated timeline from idea to patient. In addition, we are pleased to offer Sartorius employees and DFKI students and scientists the opportunity to exchange ideas and gain further qualifications in AI and life science applications."

SAIL is assigned to the DFKI research department of Smart Data & Knowledge Services. It uses DFKI's deep learning hardware and expertise. As a protected data room and independent data laboratory, SAIL is also open to Sartorius partners and customers as part of cooperation agreements. Among the technologies Sartorius and DFKI intend to develop are using machine learning and image and pattern recognition processes for life science applications. For example, their researchers are working on new deep learning algorithms and methods for image recognition of cells and organoids, analysis and modeling of biological systems, and for simulation and optimization of biopharmaceutical production processes.

Though the Sartorius-DFKI project may be a European first, the organizations are not alone in Germany in employing AI to revolutionize drug development. Innoplexus is a start-up in Darmstadt that has developed something like "Google" for pharmaceuticals research. The company provides AI solutions for drug development by identifying and extracting structured and unstructured life science data from the world-wide-web.

These innovative approaches to drug development are expected to influence strongly the competitiveness of biopharmaceuticals companies over time. Germany is honing its edge in this field with projects such as SAIL.