Promoting from within: a new role to elevate our automation abilities

  1. 15th Mar, 2023

Ingenza has undergone significant transformation and growth since its inception in 2003, which would not have been possible without a talented and multifaceted team lending their collective expertise to the development and commercialisation of biobased products. New positions and responsibilities are emerging as Ingenza looks to pioneer the future of the biotech industry, and Dr Martina Quintanar Audelo has recently been promoted to a leadership role focusing on assay technologies and screening. In this blog, Martina discusses her new responsibilities, and how she plans to use this promotion to improve throughput and automation across Ingenza’s portfolio.

New directions for biotechnology

I started my career at Ingenza in 2014, after receiving a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Barcelona, and completing my post-doctoral research in Signal Transduction at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore. In recent years, I have been part of the company’s continuous efforts to expand its focus, increase the capabilities of its assays and screening tools, and implement new instruments. I am honoured to be helping to guide Ingenza’s next steps towards growth in this new role.

Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that looks to deliver and scale bio-based solutions to address a wide range of global problems. In line with this multidisciplinary approach, my new position at Ingenza will allow me to work across multiple fields and agendas. I will be collaborating with and supporting the company’s three main departments – molecular biology, fermentation and chemistry – to optimise their workflows and promote novel ways to deliver faster results. This will help to increase throughput within our molecular biology and fermentation applications, as well as enhancing assay development, analytics and downstream processing within the chemistry team. I will also be supporting our expansion into biologics and drug development as Ingenza continues to adapt to a shifting scientific landscape.

Making room for innovation

Almost all scientific processes require some form of assay to analyse the composition or quality of reagents or products, so assay development – the first part of my new job description – is a crucial component for any cutting-edge biotechnology company. Similarly, keeping up with technological advancements is essential in any forward-thinking business, and so the second part of my job will be to work on improving Ingenza’s capabilities and throughput when it comes to screening – dedicating more time and resources to expanding our range of technologies.

Investing in instrumentation

Making the most of new technologies and instrumentation within our labs will enable us to increase productivity. For example, we have previously relied on outsourcing screening to laboratories with more modern equipment to meet the throughput requirements of larger projects, which impacted our flexibility and control over the process, as well as our ability to address any questions or issues that arose. We have therefore recently introduced new, state-of-the-art liquid handlers and colony pickers into our workflows, giving us better control of lab processes from start to finish. This enhances our efficiency by minimising waiting times for results, and allowing instant visibility and troubleshooting if any issues arise.

From manual work to robotics

Investing in sophisticated instruments is not only going to streamline our workflows, it will also significantly increase our automation capabilities. Ingenza prides itself on human innovation, so we are not looking to replace our scientists, but rather to eliminate the most repetitive and time-consuming tasks in the lab. When we were manually picking colonies, this would often take two scientists half a day, but our new machines will be able to quickly screen 10 times the number of variants, with little to no manual input required. Our aim is to free up our researchers’ time to focus on new projects and avenues, while delivering faster results and improving screening. Exploring a wider area of variants will likely enable the discovery of improved variants that may be missed through manual screening, while the use of automation will remove the risk of human error while avoiding inconsistencies and contamination, improving the overall quality and reliability of our work.

Looking to the future

Ingenza is embracing innovation, and the creation of this new role demonstrates the company’s willingness to harness the technological advancements of our time. There are so many scientific advances out there – including new robotic systems – that we could explore to continually optimise and streamline our workflows. I therefore believe that this forward-thinking role has huge potential to help Ingenza continue to grow, and I look forward to being part of our ongoing success in the years to come.