Does Stardog AI hold the key to faster pharma success?

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Drug development Drug discovery Pharmacology Pharmaceutical industry

In today's fast-paced pharmaceutical industry, major players are seeking innovative solutions to accelerate the drug development process.

Enter Stardog, an AI and data startup at the forefront of revolutionizing how drugs are brought to market.

As pharmaceutical companies navigate the complexities of manufacturing, one major bottleneck emerges: the quarantine process. Batches placed in quarantine can lead to significant delays as plant operators struggle to pinpoint the root cause of issues that prevent batches from progressing to packaging and distribution. Manual investigation and remediation efforts consume valuable time and resources, hindering efficiency and profitability.

Stardog's cutting-edge, hallucination-free AI technology is transforming this landscape by streamlining the quarantine removal process. By leveraging advanced data analytics and AI-driven insights, Stardog empowers pharmaceutical companies to swiftly identify and address issues, accelerating the release of batches from quarantine and optimizing resource allocation. As a result, Stardog is not only driving efficiency but also revolutionizing the pace at which life-saving medications reach patients worldwide. OSP spoke to founder and CEO of Stardog, Kendall Clark, to ask him a number of questions to find out a lot more. 

What are the biggest threats to the industry?

First biggest threat: The scarcity of GPUs (Graphics Processing Units), which are critical for AI operations. GPUs are an essential resource for running complex AI models and performing large-scale data analysis. However, large cloud providers such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are purchasing vast quantities of GPUs from suppliers like Nvidia and AMD. This leaves pharmaceutical companies, even those with significant resources, struggling to procure enough GPUs for their on-premises data centers. The competition for these GPUs is fierce, making it a significant challenge for regulated industries that need to keep their sensitive data in-house rather than in the cloud.

Second biggest threat: Regulatory challenges around the use of cloud technology, particularly for sensitive and proprietary data. Many regulated industries, including pharmaceuticals, are hesitant to move their critical data to the cloud due to compliance and security concerns. While they may use cloud services for less sensitive information like marketing and sales data, the "crown jewels" of their operations—such as manufacturing processes and proprietary scientific data—are typically kept in on-premises data centers. This ensures that they retain control over their most valuable information, but it also means they face additional burdens in terms of systems integration and infrastructure management.

How is Stardog addressing these threats?

Stardog has introduced a solution called Stardog Karaoke, a turnkey appliance version of our Gen AI platform. This product is designed to address the dual challenges of GPU scarcity and regulatory compliance. Here's how it works:

On-premises deployment: Stardog Karaoke is deployed within the customer's data center, allowing them to retain control over their sensitive data. This setup ensures that companies do not have to move critical data to the cloud, alleviating regulatory and security concerns.

Turnkey appliance: The product is a complete package that includes all necessary hardware and software. Customers only need to provide power and network connections. Stardog operates and manages the system remotely, making it as convenient as a cloud service but without the need to transfer data off-premises.

Self-service analytics: The appliance provides self-service analytics capabilities, enabling employees to leverage AI for data analysis and decision-making. This allows pharmaceutical companies to benefit from advanced AI without the complexities and risks associated with cloud-based solutions.

Are there any upcoming features or developments in Stardog that you're particularly excited about?

Yes, we have several exciting developments in the pipeline. One of the most significant is a new capability that will allow our platform to handle both documents and database records. Currently, most Gen AI solutions are limited to dealing with documents, essentially functioning as advanced search engines. Our solution, however, has been designed to work with database records, which are crucial for capturing structured data.

Upcoming Features:

Unified data handling: We are working on a feature that will enable our platform to seamlessly manage and analyze both documents and database records. This is a significant advancement because it addresses the need for a comprehensive AI solution that can handle the full spectrum of enterprise knowledge.

Kendall Clark

Race to market: We are in a bit of a race with other companies, such as Snowflake, Microsoft, and Databricks, who are also working on similar capabilities. However, we believe our approach, which integrates both types of data into a single platform, will provide a unique value proposition for our customers.

Broad application:  This feature will be particularly beneficial for large organizations that need to manage vast amounts of diverse data. By integrating documents and database records, we can help these organizations gain more comprehensive insights and make better-informed decisions.

How does Stardog navigate the regulatory landscape in the pharma industry to ensure compliance, safety, and the ethical use of AI in your applications?

Navigating the regulatory landscape in the pharmaceutical industry is complex, but it is a critical part of ensuring compliance and safety. Here’s how we approach it:

Hallucination-free AI: One of the key aspects of responsible AI is ensuring that the outputs are accurate and reliable. We've implemented strict measures to prevent our AI from generating 'hallucinations', which are incorrect or fabricated results. This is achieved by isolating the components of the AI that are prone to generating hallucinations and not showing customers raw outputs from the large language model.

Responsible AI use: We focus on creating AI systems that are grounded in truth. Responsible AI is essential for maintaining trust and ensuring that the technology is beneficial and not harmful. We prioritize accuracy and reliability in our AI systems to meet these standards.

Customer usage: While we have control over the product we deliver, we have limited influence over how customers use it. We take a proactive approach by not allowing functionalities that could lead to irresponsible use. For instance, we do not enable features that we believe could be misused or lead to unethical outcomes.

Data privacy: For our on-premise solutions, we respect customer data privacy by not surveilling their data usage. This is in line with our commitment to ensuring that our customers can use our products without concerns about data security or privacy violations.

What has been your most rewarding experience since founding Stardog?

There have been many rewarding experiences, but a couple stand out:

Professional milestone: Closing our first million-dollar deal with a pharmaceutical company during the pandemic was a significant professional milestone. It validated our approach and demonstrated the value of our solutions in a real-world, high-stakes environment.

Personal achievement: On a personal level, assisting my co-founder in obtaining U.S. citizenship was incredibly rewarding. My co-founder came to the U.S. with his girlfriend (now wife) to pursue a PhD in computer science. Helping him navigate the process of getting a green card and eventually becoming a U.S. citizen was a proud moment for me. It highlighted the personal connections and impacts that go beyond business success.

Do you have any advice for tech entrepreneurs looking to make an impact in the healthcare and pharma sectors?

Entering the healthcare and pharma sectors requires a deep understanding of their unique characteristics. Here are some pieces of advice:

Understand the industry's complexity: Pharma is a unique industry that combines elements of scientific research, manufacturing, and commercial operations. Unlike other industries, it requires a nuanced approach that respects its multifaceted nature.

Leverage industry expertise: Work with professionals who have extensive experience in the pharma industry. Their insights can help tailor your solutions to meet the specific needs and regulatory requirements of pharma companies.

Focus on core problems: Identify universal problems that span across various industries, such as data democratization and self-service analytics. By focusing on these core issues, you can develop solutions that have broad applicability while also catering to the unique needs of the pharma sector.

Be Patient and persistent:  Navigating the regulatory and operational landscape in pharma can be challenging and time-consuming. Patience and persistence are essential qualities for success in this sector.

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