After a rainy May that brought record floods to many places in central Europe, the sun shone on the ELA 2013, the European Lab Automation congress and exhibition that's Europe's largest event dedicated to automation within life science.
Held from June 6-7, 2013 in Hamburg, Germany, ELA 2013 featured over 75 scientific presentations across five comprehensive tracks, covering the latest life science trends and innovations in biobanking; drug discovery automation; nano and microfluidics; next-gen sequencing; and, chemistry automation and liquid handing. A wide-range of speakers from academia and industry covered topics addressing the latest in automated instruments and workflows.
Each track drilled down into very specific current issues and challenges. For instance, the Chemistry Automation track kicked off with an insightful keynote presentation by Joe Liscouski, Executive Director of the Institute for Laboratory Automation, on future directions in lab automation that attendees need to be aware of and prepare for. Liscouski stated that "Historically, it's been an evolutionary process, and this isn't very effective. It should be a directed process."
Liscouski declared that automation is no longer an option, and that, "everyone is doing it at some level but that most people don't have the background to use lab automation systems." Instead, he pointed out that it had resulted in on-the-job training where users tend to learn only what they need to know, thus the benefits are not being made obvious nor utilized well. "However," he emphasized, "lab automation technologies are transformational and their ability to change the nature of lab work can substantially benefit lab productivity."
Speakers in this and other tracks were equally insightful, offering numerous tips and techniques to attendees.
The exhibit hall featured almost 70 vendors and their solutions, from industry heavyweights such as Thermo Scientific to emerging vendors such as Genohm. Solutions ranged from middleware software systems such as Equicon Software's new multi-instrument solution to Stratec Biosystems's application software and LIS/LIMS.
ELA 2014 will be held in Barcelona, Spain next year, exact dates to be announced. See you there!