ONTOFORCE CAB pre competitive collaboration


ONTOFORCE hosts global customer base for 2023 Customer Advisory Board and User Group Meeting

The two-day event brought together our global customer base at our Ghent headquarters for interactive sessions and lively discussions.  


In September, ONTOFORCE held its 2023 Customer Advisory Board and User Group Meeting. This is the second installment of the event, with the first edition having taken place in October of 2022. The two-day event brought together our global customer base at our Ghent headquarters for interactive sessions and lively discussions.   

How DISQOVER is making an impact for pharma and healthcare organizations 

We got to hear directly from our customers - Merck KGaA, UCB, and the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, amongst others - as they presented on how DISQOVER is making an impact at their organizations.  

Natalie Romanov, Associate Director Data Strategy & Knowledge Management, Clinical Measurement Sciences, R&D – Merck KGaA  

Leveraging the knowledge graph for competitive intelligence  

Natalie explained that DISQOVER is a powerful part of the organization’s future R&D semantic data layer, which serves as both a robust data foundation and an analytical tool, enabling several critical use cases. One noteworthy application is the enhancement of Competitive Intelligence through the integration of DISQOVER's pre-ingested data sources with internal and licensed data. This integration leads to improved market awareness, provides leverage in negotiations, and generates substantial cost savings. 

Daryna Smyrnova, IT Lead Data Analytics & Visualization – UCB 

From trials to labels: insights for clinical development  

Daryna detailed how DISQOVER is helping users at UCB stay on top of the ever-changing data sources that are consulted during the creation of clinical study protocols. In addition to this, DISQOVER is supporting strong collaboration between team members and teams, as the platform enables users to share dashboards and data files with one another and get insight into what others are searching for. She also highlighted how she and her team address user needs through custom adaptations of the DISQOVER platform for colleagues working across the spectrum of drug development. 

Menno J. de Vries, Research IT Coordinator - Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology 

Revolutionizing pediatric oncology research with findable data 

One of the fundamental strategic pillars underpinning the Princess Máxima Center is an optimal exchange of knowledge between research and care teams. DISQOVER has been implemented to help enable this exchange, along with empowering users to explore relevant data that they might be unaware of. In his presentation, Menno detailed how exactly DISQOVER is being implemented in order to achieve project and organizational goals and how users are being onboarded through innovative trainings and support documentation. Additionally, he discussed a potential future of connecting DISQOVER instances across research institutions to bring more data together for researchers to ultimately progress faster on research impacting childhood disease.   

Engaging discussions on NLP and LLMs 

During the event, an engaging series of round table discussions took place around large language models (LLMs) and natural language processing (NLP). The conversations enabled our diverse attendee group, made up of data strategists, IT professionals, business leaders, and data scientists to delve into various topics centered on the transformative impact of LLMs and NLP in the realm of data exploration, search, and analytics.  

ONTOFORCE customers discuss NLP LLM

Specifically, much time was spent discussing the abilities of leveraging LLMs with existing data tools in tandem, and further, the capabilities when doing so or the potential capabilities in the future. Many challenges of developing and implementing LLMs in different business contexts were discussed and various possible solutions to these challenges were brought up and further brainstormed upon. In all, the discussions were marked by a shared enthusiasm for the innovative possibilities that GenAI promises and along with acknowledgement of hurdles that still remain in its uptake.  

Addressing challenges in biopharma 

We also had the opportunity to hear an insightful keynote presentation on biopharma challenges and opportunities by John Wise from the Pistoia Alliance. John centered his presentation on the statement that “if we want to stay as we are, we are going to have to change.” This perplexing sentiment suggests maintaining status-quo in biopharma and continuing to solve for the industries longstanding challenges requires riding the wave of the next transformational (often technological) change that is inevitably around the corner. Such everlasting challenges include increasing R&D costs, falling peak sales per asset, regulatory approval complications, delays in patient access following market authorization, and gaining a better understanding how the human body functions at a molecular level.  

When it comes to riding the wave of change, John suggests that the necessity to do so isn’t entirely new for the industry. As he put it, there have always been magic bullets in the industry, especially for R&D (molecular models, high-throughput screening, bioinformatics, etc. and now LLMs), however, these bullets don’t necessarily always deliver on what they promise. Nonetheless, these are interesting tools to put in the toolbox that often need to be adopted in one way, shape, or form in order for a biopharma company to stay afloat, or rather, “stay as it is.” Moreover, these tools frequently build upon each other with new tools requiring a foundation established by older tools.  

John concluded his presentation by touching on the other opportunities that exist to support the industry in addressing challenges, namely community-based approaches, as the best way forward is together.  

Empowering pre-competitive collaboration  

ONTOFORCE believes in the power of pre-competitive collaboration. This type of collaboration can be extremely impactful in the life sciences industry, an industry in which even incremental organizational advancements can translate into improved patient outcomes. We were thus pleased to host our customers so we could foster this spirit of collaboration and offer opportunities in which they could learn and hear from one another through peer presentations, roundtable discussions, and networking breaks.  

A big thank you to our attendees for joining us, we look forward to next year’s edition! 

Watch the event video