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CellPort Connect - CC 103: Upskilling the Next Generation

So Patrick, I've seen version one of CellPort, I've seen version two of CellPort. We're about to launch version three of CellPort. And I am particularly excited about some of the features like the new protocols that make it so much easier for people to build no code, version control templates that other people can use the weekly calendar view with scheduled events and integrated notes with that notification And those are some of the things that I'm most excited about. What are you excited about for the new version of software?

When we started this project, the first thing we sort of focused on were the small group of two or three scientists who are focusing in cell culture and the early 1.0 version captured some very basic functions that we tied together and as we added more people to it and they started asking for things, it became pretty clear what version two should look like. Again, we were building an internal system. So when you build an internal system, it can be almost designed with the mindset of an expert system because everyone is trained on it as it's being built. So two brought some added features and some functionality that were really, really wonderful version three though is at an inflection point, the emphasis on user friendly became a high priority that is not being intimidated by what is by what is perceived as an expert system and a deep training knowledge to use it. We have simplified a lot of that. The other thing that we sort of looked at was how can the scientist interact with the system that allows them to do all their necessary functions and one of the functions that we heard in the last 12 to 18 months was can I build my own protocols without assistance from somebody else without assistance from the manufacturers from CellPort? That is one of the things I'm most excited about is the ability for the end users to start putting together their protocols as they needed at the frequency they needed and doing it in such a system that is traceable and transparent. I think that to me is what I am personally most excited about in this system.

It's not only traceability and transparency, it's also about reproducibility when you think about what these protocols allow. There's stepwise instructions that can be as detailed or as flexible as the author needs them to be and that leads us to something that we've talked about many times and that's upskilling at my previous position. My previous company, we had a system that was built for experts and we saw a trend in the market that I think we're seeing here as well where people with a scientific background were retiring and being replaced, not by people who were scientists, sometimes by people who were nonscientists. There was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this year, a training program in Philadelphia that upskilled people with no scientific background. One of them became a manager of a laboratory at a biotech company in the area and that's something that our software I think is uniquely positioned to be able to do to help people to help the junior employees become almost as skilled as their senior employees.

It reminds me of the world of mass spectrometry when the early systems that came out required oftentimes a PhD to run the instrument and interpret the data over the time that from 96 to 2020 when I was running absorption systems, we watched this massive transition from PhDs who are highly trained in analytical chemistry with the advancements of the instrumentation, the interfaces being more user friendly. We had technicians coming in learning how to operate the machines and being highly effective and often terms of bachelor level scientists doing that and they turn out to be excellent scientists. So that's sort of the same transformation we're, we're anticipating here and in fact, we're seeing it in the biological labs a lot of the work that is done is in the world of culturing on a daily basis and what we cell culture. Under the supervision of lab directors were excellent, excellent. And they never used a notebook, everything was digital, there was no resistance to change, they embraced it because that's what they've grown up with, with technology. In fact, many of the advances in 3.0 are based on comments that could make the system more user friendly but all of a sudden, you're asking yourself the question. Wow, upskilling. Do I need a certain level of degree? A master is a PhD to be able to do this work and the answer is absolutely not to be able to do maybe some of the, the visionary research and the cutting edge. Sure, but the staff that supports that is a different game. And there is an opportunity with a lot of these systems that ensure that if the system is used properly, you're gonna capture the data, it's going to be done in a certain format, it's gonna be done in a certain time frame. who've done it. There is an opportunity that will be tremendous for a whole wave of people who are looking for that sort of upskilling opportunity if you will.

And that comes back again to the protocols and the ability to have these step wise instructions that are as rigorous or as flexible as they need to be and that ensures that things are done the way they're supposed to be done and if things go wrong, you'll always have that track ability, traceability and transparency to go back and see who did what, when they did it with what equipment and materials and where along the line in this, the cells were at every step of the way.

So speaking of upskilling, one of the phenomena we've seen in the last oh I think 56 years was the introduction of gene and cell therapies. CAR-Ts, these allogeneic type approaches and we've seen some remarkable advancements in the alternative therapeutic markets and what that has resulted in is this tremendous investment into the space and this goes back to the 2015, 2016 time frames. Well, a few successes and the money has flowed. What is interesting about this time period and we saw this in the CRO business is the amount of money that flowed in but the skill sets we needed at that time to respond to this flow and advancement of an AV production, CAR-T production expanded work in stem cells, money was flowing but the talent was somewhat limited because we were sort of lagging behind in the number of people working in that space, so it became necessary to train people as fast as possible, even repurpose existing scientists with a new skill set. The need also sort of arose that to do a lot of this, this type of work we needed done is certain levels, certain staffs of entry level people just needed to be introduced to the skills, So upskilling, they became pretty impactful. Very quickly. There is an opportunity out there in today's world with a tool like a CellPort that will enable someone who has enough introduction to the space and maybe not a full college degree, but an associate degree who with the training in the lab setting can make a dramatic impact on a company and this is the type of upskilling we want to see because there is a shortage of labor out there.

Right, and that's definitely one of the things that we've seen with the people with whom we've spoken, that shortage of labor upskilling. It definitely is something that's going to be able to help address that need.

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