Discovering new medical therapies and drugs is a complex and time-consuming process. High-performance computing and interactive data analytics can make a substantial difference and  accelerate discovery and time-to-market.

UCB  is a multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Brussels. UCB focuses primarily on research and development, specifically involving medications centered on epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease. The company’s efforts are focused on treatments for severe diseases treated by specialists, particularly in the fields of central nervous system disorders (including epilepsy), inflammatory disorders (including allergy) and oncology.


The company’s data backbone built on Oracle database technology was struggling to meet the new data platform’s performance demands. Next to performance scalelability was also a point of attention as future data volumes would make the current system unstable.
UCB wanted to build a data platform for early stage drug discovery enabling scientists to quickly access research data via self-service and as a result accelerate the early discovery process. Its goals included:
  • Decreasing the time scientists spend waiting for data. Previously, scientists had to wait for days or weeks for the data to be made available for analysis by IT.
  • Helping scientists reach answers faster. A faster and easier-to-use system would allow scientists to test hypotheses quickly.
  • A user-friendly self-service interface. Scientists would be able to use this system without needing assistance from IT. They could easily pick and choose the right data for their experiments, prepared in the way that makes the most sense for the success of the experiment.


30X Speed improvements enabling real-time dashboards 
48X batch data refresh ops improvement 


The new data platform needed to deliver faster query performance, while being able to easily scale to handle the large, complex queries scientists used to gather research data. The new solution had to accommodate massive data sets and growth so the company wouldn’t need to transition to another database in the future. 

More importantly, UCB’s new early stage discovery data platform needed to be built around the FAIR principle: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. The chosen database technology would need to fit this approach and easily connect with the rest of UCB’s data stack. 

Platform choice

Up to 800 scientists worldwide rely on UCB’s data platform every day to power their essential research. “We chose SingleStore because it offered a modern database that can accelerate time to insight with ultra-fast ingestion, super-low latency, high-performance queries, and high concurrency,” said Frédéric Vanclef, Senior IT Expert, UCB. SingleStore offers parallel, high-scale streaming data ingest that can handle trillions of events per second for immediate availability and concurrency for tens of thousands of users, which supports UCB’s current needs and positions it for future growth.


With SingleStore, UCB is now giving scientists what they need in real time to get the answers they need faster to drive their research:

  • Empowering scientists with a high-performance self-service solution 
    UCB scientists can now collect and prepare their data themselves, getting exactly what they need for their experiments. The SingleStore-powered data backbone gathers all of the research and referential data into a single source of truth, allowing users to select from a wide range of high-quality data. Now, scientists can ask more questions during early stage drug discovery. “Thanks to SingleStore, we can do more and do it faster, which is invaluable to our research,” said Vanclef.
  • Elevating the role of IT from tactical to highly strategic 
    UCB has a dedicated IT support team to assist its scientists. Before the rollout of the early stage discovery data platform, this team was responsible for handling data requests from scientists. Unfortunately, this scenario meant scientists experienced long delays between when they asked for the data and actually received it. With the new self-service solution, the IT team was able to transform its mission and actions from tactical to highly strategic.
  • Accelerating drug discovery
    UCB’s new data backbone has massive improvements in query speed and latency. Instead of being forced to wait up to 20 minutes for query results, scientists now have access to real-time data and query results in 20 seconds, reducing query latency by more than 30X. They can check on available data sets in real time, eliminating delays between data publication and availability in the data mart. The platform’s batch data refresh operation run times dropped by 48X: from 4 hours to 5 minutes(!).
  • Providing scientists with analytical flexibility
    Each data type has its own optimal analytics approach, requiring different tools to handle the wide range of information that UCB scientists work with. SingleStore supports multiple popular analytics solutions so that scientists can work with their preferred applications for a particular experiment.

Source: SingleStore UCB casestory. Full document can be downloaded here.

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