Accelrys Takes on Productivity Gap with Scientific Lifecycle Software

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bridging that gap,” Doyle says. As part of its SILM marketing campaign (and in a bid to encourage a broader discussion), Accelrys today switched on a website that serves as a kind of social-media forum for addressing the industrial productivity gap.

Accelrys is targeting a growing consensus that industrial innovation in the U.S. is stalling, and cites an Accelrys-commissioned study by IDC Manufacturing Insights that shows a high failure rate of product innovation and commercialization among U.S. companies in all industries. Only about 25 percent of these projects result in a product that reaches the market—and of the products that make it, two-thirds fail to meet original design or consumer expectations.

Albeit self-serving, the Accelrys study comes at a time when the White House and industry leaders are focusing increased attention and resources in an effort to jumpstart innovations in U.S. manufacturing. After decades of viewing manufacturing as something that can be outsourced to the lowest-cost supplier, the effort is intended to spark an American revival by improving efficiency and quality, and enabling U.S. companies to make products better, faster, and smarter than their global competitors.

President Obama introduced the initiative, known as the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), last June at Carnegie Mellon University. The effort, which has enlisted universities, industry, and the government, includes more than $500 million in federal investments in key areas, including a “Materials Genome Initiative” to dramatically reduce the time needed to design, build, and test new materials and manufactured goods.

While the Accelrys announcement is not connected with these initiatives, the company says the effort clearly validates the importance of science as a key driver of growth and innovation. Its customers already include the nation’s biggest chemical, biopharmaceutical, energy, and aerospace companies, as well as government agencies and universities.

“There is a capability gap between discovery and manufacturing, and we think that is critical,” says Accelrys’ Doyle. “It doesn’t matter who you talk to or in what industry.”

The broader issue of sparking a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing has become a priority for Duane Roth at Connect, the San Diego nonprofit organization focused on technology innovation and entrepreneurship. Roth envisions a sea change away from the Peter Drucker era—in which the legendary management consultant recommended outsourcing key business activities like manufacturing—and toward a renewed focus on bringing both low cost and high quality to domestic production.

“It used to be that CEOs got up every day and said ‘How fast can we get to market?'” Roth says. “Now we have CEOs waking up every day and asking themselves, ‘How can I provide the highest quality at the lowest cost?'”

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • From Accelrys CEO Max Carnecchia:


    We continue to hear from customers and analysts that there is an innovation productivity gap in new product development, which is particularly acute within those industries that rely on science to innovate and bring new products to market. The technologies that have been in place in these industries range from homegrown systems to closed, vendor-specific solutions that only target a specific scientific process within R&D. These existing software technologies create disconnected data sources and lead to manual, disconnected processes that stem from the lack of a core infrastructure that drives efficiencies in other areas of those businesses – downstream manufacturing with ERP and PLM for example. The pressure to solve this problem has increased due to a number of important trends that we have seen within our customer base and analysts have validated: the externalization of research and development; increased government regulation; the move to “first to file” patent laws; and continued downward pressure on margins as companies move to bring products to new markets that require a different cost structure. Externalization in particular is top of mind for executives in pharma and biotech, with companies increasingly collaborating with (or outsourcing to) contract research organizations, academic institutions, etc. Finding an infrastructure and systems that can support this model within R&D and eases the process in transferring that knowledge and innovation through to manufacturing is a key strategic imperative for them. These customers are focused on trying to bridge the gap between the innovation and commercialization cycles of their business, coming to us for help and going to the analysts for answers. Without a solution that addresses this gap, they will continue to waste money and resources, losing their competitive advantage.

    If you look at other functions within enterprises, they have benefitted from software solutions from Oracle, SAP and Salesforce that make processes more efficient and have moved throughout a company’s value chain. These include CRM, PLM and supply chain management. However, scientific R&D hasn’t seen the same benefits because the data that is created isn’t “clean cut” information that can be entered into a database for easy tracking, manipulation and analysis. The complex R&D data sits in disconnected databases and important information and knowledge is either inaccessible or simply not available for further research – and it certainly can’t be leveraged in downstream processes like manufacturing that would benefit from the context and insight gained in R&D. For example, in the course of manufacturing a new biofuel, a company realizes one of the compounds is reacting poorly (or is not environmentally friendly) and it needs to be replaced. Without a software platform that can track the R&D process that went into creating the biofuel, scientists would have to go back to the drawing board or recreate the original R&D process to find a suitable substitute – a waste of time and money that causes a significant delay in bringing a new product to market. These companies invest significant portions of their budget in R&D, it is what differentiates them from their competitors, and that investment made is often a “1 and done”.

    Our announcement is focused on 1) calling out this innovation productivity gap, raising awareness and encouraging the scientific and vendor community to close the gap and 2) announcing the first scientifically-aware software platform that can help start to bridge the gap and enable Accelrys, customer and vendor tools to be able to share information from early research and development to early manufacturing.

    So in regards to your question – is this the same as what we discussed last year? Yes and no.

    Yes, it is a manifestation of Accelrys’ strategy. Yes, this is a new way to look at and implement the process for scientific discovery.


    Max Carnecchia