Agresearch seeks input on tech refresh

Agresearch, a Crown Research Institute (CRI) that produces science and technology projects for New Zealand’s agricultural sector, is embarking on an information system refresh.

The organisation has this week issued two RFIs, for an Integrated Sample Information Management System and an Electronic Lab Notebook solution. They are part of a wider programme that will make “the data generated by sample management and analysis more efficient and accurate for our researchers, collaborators, clients and other stakeholders.”

Agresearch is looking to streamline its current information systems, which have been built up over a number of years and this has resulted in a “complex ecology of systems, some of which can be replaced with more generic and up-to-date products.”

“Our key outcome will be a comprehensive information hub that can integrate new and existing lab systems and then report, in real time, on sample status from service request through to result delivery,” the document reads.

The RFI highlights key themes for consideration which include how the new system would handle the replacement of end of life products, the consolidation of existing solutions, and the integration of current systems that are not intended to be replaced.

Agresearch is especially interested in a modular or staged approach that would “help limit to risks to quality, cost and time”. In addition, it is expected there may be bespoke solutions, but these will need to include detail around support and training requirements.

The complexity of the project is touted, in the RFI document, as an opportunity for the successful participants to raise their profile.

“This is an excellent opportunity to provide information and innovative product designs for a major contributor to New Zealand’s primary industry knowledge economy. The unique challenges provided by our requirements will increase your company’s profile across the information management sector while at the same time address an increasingly complex issue in technology driven data management.”

The accompanying RFI for an Electronic Lab Notebook also highlights the “complex ecology” of Agresearch’s current solutions, in this instance a records management process that involves both paper-based and electronic systems. It provides a number of scenarios where the solution would be used, for example in isolated field work where researchers regularly visits monitoring and sampling sensors in remote locations to record data.

“This RFI anticipates the purchase of an Electronic Lab Notebook, which is capable of collecting narrative data, metadata, images, sketches and other laboratory-based information or processes across numerous disciplines.”

It also emphasises the key themes of “replacement, consolidation and integration”, as the solution would not be expected to replace all the existing products.

According to its 2017 Annual Report, Agresearch has 617 staff, working across four campuses and 11 farms in Waikato, Manawatu, Canterbury, Southland and Otago.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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