back 27.04.2022

Artificial intelligence: a challenge for pharmaceutical companies

An integrated approach is what Idiap, the Valais research institute, and the Swiss Distance University are offering in collaboration with the canton of Valais. Through a unique program, combining academic distance learning and on-the-job training, pharmaceutical companies, startups and multinationals are supported in the development of their artificial intelligence projects.   

Inspired by the Swiss dual-track training system (apprenticeship), Idiap has set up a dual master's degree, over 18 months and 90 ETCS credits. It combines theoretical courses with practical training in a company. The projects, determined with the "host" company, are supervised by researchers in artificial intelligence and specialists from the research institute. As a national center of competence in artificial intelligence and an expert in technology transfer, Idiap thus offers its partner companies scientific expertise.

A win-win partnership  
In 2020, Merck Serono Aubonne, in collaboration with the Valais research institute, developed an artificial intelligence solution capable of judging the criticality of "deviations" - minor or major incidents that can occur during the production of medicines. As head of the quality unit at Merck Serono Laboratories, Christophe Martin will hire an apprentice from the Idiap's AI Master's program in February 2020. The objective: to develop an artificial intelligence solution that will enable incidents to be qualified, from the entry of raw materials to the storage of finished products, according to their type: major or minor.   

It took 18 months to complete the project, 18 months of data cleansing and coding. "We are now putting our resources in the right place in implementing corrective measures and are much more relevant in our preventive actions," explains Christophe Martin. A next project is already being considered: securing a supply chain that was damaged by the Covid crisis with a similar system.

Substantial savings and innovation potential to be explored, thanks to AI!  
With some CHF 80,000 invested in this first project, Merck Serono is already seeing significant financial benefits: some CHF 15,000 hours per year are saved by the quality unit thanks to this solution. And that's not all! "Today, the pharmaceutical industry has difficulty meeting the demand from hospitals. Making our drug supply more reliable thanks to A.I. not only increases our competitiveness, it also solves a public health problem," says Christophe Martin, Quality Director at Merck Serono Laboratories.  

The program's approach not only provides privileged access to highly qualified people, but also opens up a field of possibilities for partner companies to explore in innovation, thanks to data and artificial intelligence.

Learn more about Idiap's dual master's degree in artificial intelligence.

Source : alpict.ch and idiap.ch 


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