How Linguamatics Sees Language Solutions for the Life Sciences Industry

Richard Parnell, Linguamatics at SlatorCon London 2024

Richard Parnell, General Manager of Linguamatics, gave his first industry presentation at SlatorCon London since parent company IQVIA rebranded its language solutions division last month.

Parnell’s presentation, titled “From Buyer to Solution Provider: the Case for a Subject Matter Expert driven AI-Language Solutions model”, discussed how transformational shifts in technology or client requirements trigger a need for service providers to think outside the box to meet market demand.

IQVIA, a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions, and clinical research services to the life sciences industry, and historically one of the largest buyers of translation and localization services, began in-sourcing translations three years ago due to its high demand. It has since grown to provide translation and localization to other pharmaceutical and contract research organizations globally, which it now markets as Linguamatics to continue to drive organic growth.

“My plan is to try to bring a slightly different perspective and share ideas with you about how we look at localization”, Parnell said, as he listed the three themes of his presentation: ‘progress is inevitable’, ‘optimization is not innovation’, and ‘a framework for continuous evolution’.

Kicking off with ‘progress is inevitable’, Parnell showed the audience how advancements in pacemakers had been revolutionized over the past 70 years, from large medical devices worn all over the body, to today’s nail-sized devices. “It’s not just about the miniaturization and the decrease in size. It’s also thinking about how we do something differently”, he stated.

The Linguamatics General Manager asked the audience to consider how quickly progress happened when the COVID vaccines were approved, compared to standard clinical trials, which take several years. While Parnell recognized that this didn’t radically change clinical practice, he emphasized how these changes make us think about progress and achieving outcomes in a different way.

Tying this into the localization industry, Parnell revealed that Linguamatics has developed its own internal machine translation engines, which are trained not only on specific languages with clinical content, but are also specific to document types which are adjusted to the style and vocabulary of the target audience. 

Moving onto ‘optimization is not innovation’, Parnell showed a slide of a turtle on a skateboard to address how optimization can sometimes be perceived as innovation. The Linguamatics General Manager recognized the importance of AI and large language models, but challenged the audience to consider whether these are optimizing existing processes, or revolutionizing them in ways that can be considered true innovation.

Richard Parnell, Linguamatics at SlatorCon London 2024 in line image

Parnell concluded with Linguamatics’ ‘framework for continuous evolution’, where the General Manager emphasized the importance of subject matter expertise. He revealed that 50% of the company’s leadership come from outside the language services industry, and this has enabled the division to procure regulatory monitoring databases, and leverage subject matter expertise.

“We’re finding that that’s really important. Having that combination of [language industry and life sciences] subject matter experts is working very well and it’s enabling us to be able to do things that I think we otherwise probably wouldn’t think about or challenge ourselves to do”, Parnell concluded.

One audience member asked Parnell how Linguamatics is managing to bridge the gap between innovation and the regulatory authorities, which are resistant to change. While Parnell recognized that “there are things you can influence and there are things you can’t influence”, the General Manager stated that the company’s investment in regulatory monitoring and subject matter experts help the company to overcome some of these challenges.