2 Critical IT Infrastructure Downfalls of the Biotech Startup

Posted by Steven Vigeant on 12/4/12 8:00 AM

biotech startup IT mistakesAfter your first round of funding for your Biotech venture, everything changes—you move from a virtual office to a real one, you start hiring and investing in equipment.  You’re finally getting started!  Once your biotech start up is funded, you’ll be trying to get as much done as possible before the money runs out.  It’s crucial during this time to realize that your IT infrastructure is an integral part of your business investment—with a need for thorough research, planning and support by you, the leader. 

Given the importance of IT, this is the time to engage with a professional that has experience working with companies in your industry and the will help to identify the most suitable IT infrastructure for your biotech company. Engagement at the planning stage will give your business the best shot of meeting the timely benchmarks set by your investors.  Understand how important your data is, and avoid the two critical mistakes biotech startups make.

Biotech is Unique: Your Data IS Your Product (or close to)

Investors have given your company money because they expect a payoff down the line.  Unlike traditional companies, biotech businesses are heavily dependent on the information they produce and gather.  Whether it’s developing a new drug or a quicker testing process, the data your company gathers and generates from its experiments creates the value your investors are betting on.  And your IT infrastructure is what allows you to manage, access, and store that data.  Because of this dependence on data, biotech companies are particularly vulnerable to faulty or low quality IT equipment.  Any problem with your IT systems will delay the progress of your projects or flow of your communications; this can dramatically affect your core business and cause you to miss critical deadlines down the road. 

Biotech Mistake #1: Don't Invest in the Right Infrastructure 

Investing in the best equipment and people, of course, is integral to maximizing your productivity, but as you build your budget don’t skimp on your IT infrastructure.  Too often short-term savings on IT have expensive long-term consequences.  What’s the point of investing $250,000 in in a piece of lab equipment without getting the right technology in place to support it?  Company’s often take risks and shop for their IT infrastructure based on price, for a data-intensive biotech company, you’re better spending your money on equipment that you know won’t let you down.  All the high tech lab equipment and precious data is riding on your IT infrastructure. Investing in the wrong IT system is like putting bald tires on your new car.

Biotech Mistake #2: No Plan for Variability 

The startup environment is chaotic, with cycles of flush and lean times as the funding comes and goes.  Your company might grow from two people to 10 in only a couple of months and then need to cut back as money runs thin or you transition from discovery to development.  These fluctuations put even more stress on an IT infrastructure. In their initial IT investments, companies too often fail to plan for change.  While it might seem to make sense right now to invest in (the cheaper) hardware or cloud solutions, you risk having to throw out that entire investment eight months later once your company has expanded. Putting in the wrong solution in the beginning may result in frustrated users and hamper progress in your development, not to mention costing more in the long run to replace the system.  Make sure the equipment you invest in can be scaled up to meet the needs of a growing number of employees, tasks, and demands placed on it.  Your investment should not only be durable; like you, it should be flexible.

Consult Experts 

So how do you avoid these two critical mistakes? Find an expert that can paint the picture of the ideal infrastructure for your company and can help you understand the risks in different IT choices. What is a cost effective solution that will get the job done for you?  Setting up the company is the critical moment to call in an IT consulting company to advise you on what you need and what you don’t.  An outsourced IT solution provider who specializes in biotech companies can give you the benefit of their years of experience in the industry.  They understand the unique needs of biotech companies and have seen multiple companies through the lifecycle of expansion and contraction. A good IT solution provider will also be able to offer you the around the clock support and monitoring that is critical to companies like yours. It’s worth the time and money to see that your IT infrastructure is set up correctly.  


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Topics: IT Outsourcing, Biotechnology Startup