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Could you give us an overview of the Monoceros Biosystems?
Monoceros Biosystems was established in March 2017 to meet the market demand for bioinformatics support. Companies, especially small biotech firms, were looking for ideal consultants to help them solve their drug discovery problems. I realized that although many companies analyze data, very few found the root cause of the problem and solved it from the beginning. We started by finding the best solutions for questions that everyone was trying to answer, integrated ways to analyze the data, and designed various experiments needed to collect the correct data. Initially, our business expanded through my network and referrals by our clients. The name of the company, Monoceros, means unicorn in Greek and symbolizes our specialty of bioinformatics computational biology through the multi-disciplinary area. Our specialty is our understanding of the tools of programming, biology, drug discovery, biostatistics/machine learning. Finding a player who deeply understands all these four components is rare, but we combine the expertise of top bioinformatics talent and bring the integrated offering to the table.
What is the strategy that you follow to deliver innovations to the clients?
To create a balance between innovations and market trends, we take a very different approach and maintain a wish list internally. Our workforce adds new ideas and insights to this list regularly. Once a year, we review this list and categorize the various ideas depending on their financial viability and significance. Be it a small improvement to the current process, or an entirely novel approach, we choose one or two most of the valuable ideas that we believe to have a more significant impact for our clients and implement them.
We are emphasizing on deep learning and artificial intelligence to transform the ways the biotech industry works
Leveraging our knowledge of real-world clinical and commercial requirements, we first define clients’ unique needs and the questions they are trying to solve. We then offer the best-fit solutions that match those needs. If we do not have a suitable tool in our toolbox, then we go the extra mile by performing additional experiments to find customized solutions. We don’t want to be in a situation where we put noisy data through a black-box algorithm that was never tested to produce results. We therefore always adjust our offerings depending on the level of the experiments and situation. For instance, if the client is in a pivotal clinical study, they need high confidence and proven solutions, as there is no time for risky experiments. For the clients who are at the early discovery stage, working on animal models to detect additional hypotheses, we can be more innovative and cater to higher risk solutions. One solution or approach doesn’t fit all, and depending on the situation, we mold ourselves accordingly. Yet, the primary step to find an appropriate solution or potential approach remains the same, i.e., thoroughly understanding the discoverer. We focus more on building knowledge for the future; rather than focusing on developing tools, we emphasize solutions for the questions and record those answers. In essence, we take a novel approach to build an institutional memory that helps in solving problems faster next time. By working on diverse projects over the years, we have learned unique ways to develop tools or solutions quicker and better. With the growth of the company, our knowledge base and toolbox has grown exponentially and continuously.
What are the differentiating factors that keep you ahead of the competition?
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There are many tools, solutions, and bioinformatics providers that focus on collecting and presenting data in XML tables, HTML or PDF reports, and large excel tables. However, these documents aren’t always the most helpful or provide large insights, as non-bioinformaticians don’t know how to glean useful biology from them. At Monoceros, we instead learn the details of our clients’ programs we work on, acting as an in-house bioinformatic team would. By actively integrating ourselves with our clients, we collectively form an interdisciplinary team that includes biologists, subject domain experts, and bioinformaticians; we help clients design experiments, analyze the data from them, and interpret and interrogate these analyses. We unlock the true value of data by explaining and helping our client understand the real meaning of the information, and how it relates to their particular disease indication or therapeutic modality. We synthesize complex data into manageable information on a specific disease that can be understood easily by domain experts. Along with delivering reports, we show our clients how to use it, and provide additional custom solutions when they want to do their own analysis. In addition to our unique informational consulting-based approach, the Monoceros’ team plays a vital role in our success. We consider critical and independent thinkers while hiring talent. We have a culture of collaboration and innovation where people solve problems together, helping each other succeed. And importantly, we are not limited to one tool or one platform; we use a variety of tools, keeping our toolbox open while solving an issue.
What does the future look like for the Monoceros Biosystems?
Our mission is to deliver top-notch computation biology and bioinformatics services to address the market’s unmet demands. We aim to enhance our services further in the future and therefore keep pushing ourselves to innovate and improve to provide faster, cheaper, and better solutions. Since we can’t predict future technologies and trends, we focus on finding novel solutions while keeping a close eye those that are emerging. Currently, we are emphasizing on deep learning and artificial intelligence to transform the way the biotech industry works.