Marvin Update, News

3 August 2019

By Sabine Birkner

All About Marvin: The Story of XClinical

At XClinical, we value loyalty and commitment among our staff, our customers and our partners. In fact, we are most proud of our company’s family culture, which drives our daily decisions and practices.

In this blog post, we look back at the history of our company, the vision it was founded upon, and the tradition of our valued professional bonds.

Where It All Began

In 2002, our company founder, Dr. Philippe Verplancke, recognized that the electronic data capture (EDC) systems available in the current market had key weaknesses (or “gaps”) in their structure and design. These included:

  • Database architecture that did not adhere to a single standard, creating industry-wide inconsistencies
  • Interfaces that lacked user-friendly features specifically designed for end users (site staff), resulting in inefficiencies and human error

Based on Philippe’s desire to close these gaps and create a competitive product, he founded XClinical.

Built with Input from End Users

XClinical software was designed from the ground up with its end users’ needs in mind—the medical staff that must integrate data entry into their already fast-paced and demanding workplace.

Our first marketing slogan was “Made for Investigators by Investigators”. Indeed, investigators skilled in clinical trials provided key input into the product specifications.

CDISC and XClinical Born Within a Year Apart 

Philippe assessed that in a highly regulated industry, standards are key to interoperability and compliance. Fortunately, the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) was founded just one year before XClinical.1

Recognizing that CDISC would be an important standards body for the industry, Philippe standardized the XClinical database structure using CDISC as its foundational architecture.

That’s why the XClinical EDC system was one of the first products to be certified to the CDISC ODM standard.

In late 2016, both the FDA and PMDA made CDISC standards mandatory for New Drug Application (NDA), validating XClinical’s strategic decision made back in 2002.

Seventeen years of collecting clinical trial data have proven that CDISC standards for data interchange, data submission and archiving significantly improve the efficiency of clinical trial technology and processes. That’s why XClinical is continuing its forward-looking practices and embracing the newest CDISC standards. For example, team members are currently participating in the CDISC 360 project.

Meet Marvin, the Happy Robot 

Philippe and the team originally referred to our EDC as “XTrial”. But, when expanding into the United States in 2005, XClinical found a company with a similar name and realized an alternative was required.  XClinical went looking for a more distinctive name—one that would capture the unique positioning in the market. 

We held a brainstorming session, but the team quickly became frustrated as any new names they thought of were already trademarked. As depression set in among the team, an XClinical senior executive suggested the product be renamed in honor of “Marvin the Depressed Android”.

The suggestion was inspired by a popular movie playing in theaters at the time called “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, which was based on the classic cult novel by Douglas Adams and featured the moody but brilliant robot Marvin. However, it was decided that our Marvin would be helpful and happy!

The name stuck and, to this day, Marvin is the only eClinical solution with a human name—one that personifies our product and makes it more accessible, relatable, and friendly.

Marvin Travels the World!

There are lots of ways you can get to know Marvin. Check him out here peeking over the top of our product logo:

Marvin also has his own Facebook page and an Instagram account where employees and customers around the world delight in taking photos of him in various locations.

And next time you are at an industry conference such as DIA, stop by the XClinical booth and meet Marvin our mascot. You might even get invited into Marvin’s spaceship, where he will take you on his travels!

But most excitingly, you can explore what happens when customers ‘Marvin their Study’: that is, harness the power of Marvin’s data management capabilities to streamline trials for significant cost and time savings and improved data quality.

Get Ready to Marvin Your Studies!

With Marvin, clinical study sponsors and CROs can leave the hard work of data management up to him and instead focus on other activities, such as analyzing data and refining the science, thereby ensuring superior clinical trial results. When customers ‘Marvin their Studies’, they benefit from:

  • A CDISC end-to-end clinical trial process, from study setup to datasets ready for regulatory submission
  • Private cloud hosting available 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • A scalable and flexible system, with optional, customized packages
  • Training to suit their needs including eLearning, classroom or web-based
  • Fast database set-up, with design tools that eliminate the need for programming

All of Marvin’s modules are integrated—it’s a single application, built on the same platform with a centralized database. Customers can purchase the specific features they need for a cost-effective, quick start, with the option to grow, or use Marvin for a specific project that requires flexibility. XClinical’s full suite of services gets customers up and running, fast.

Marvin is Really into Self-Improvement

Fans of “Hitchhiker’s” might know the original Marvin as depressed and bored—all understandable, given his brain is the size of a planet. But our Marvin, who is also no slouch, has found his eClinical calling:  he’s happy, well-prepared, and extremely dedicated. 

In fact, he wants to take on all your eClinical data work and, based on customer needs, learn how he can help even more.

That’s why Marvin, like the rest of XClinical, takes customer input seriously and actually encourages it. The ability to collaborate with end users who are experts in the industry allows XClinical to build software that people need.

Since 2005, we’ve held an annual two-day customer meeting in Munich. Our upcoming conference in October 2019 will be the 15th gathering. We enjoy meeting our customers there and collecting their insights in real time but, even if customers cannot attend, they can still provide their feedback.

It’s a Growth Story 

So now you know a bit more of our history, where is XClinical headed? We’re growing fast to keep up with our increasing number of customers. The numbers speak for themselves.

XClinical growth:

  • >50 employees that represent over 20 nationalities, with one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry
  • 5 international offices, including Munich, Germany; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Basel, Switzerland; and Nantes, France
  • 2 partner offices in Chennai, India, and Tokyo, Japan.

Customer growth:

  • Over 95 customers, including CROs, pharma, medical device manufacturers, and academic institutions
  • Clinical trial sites in 69 countries
  • >1,250 total studies
  • >1,000,000 patients in therapeutic areas including cardiovascular, oncology, dermatology, respiratory, endocrinology, reproductive health, and more.

Family is Everything

Our numbers tell a story we’re proud of—between our low employee turnover rate and high percentage of repeat business, we have some of the longest standing customer relationships in the industry.

Each new customer receives a primary XClinical contact when they sign up and are welcomed to the family. With Marvin as your partner, you can focus on the business of ensuring faster delivery of vital medications to the market in a world where every single day that you save can make a difference. ‘Marvin your study’ today!

1CDISC is a standards developing organization (SDO) dealing with medical research data linked with healthcare, to “enable information system interoperability to improve medical research and related areas of healthcare.”

Hello, I'm Sabine Birkner

Marketing Manager


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EvidentIQ Germany GmbH, formerly XClinical is part of the EvidentIQ Group along with Carenity, Dacima and Fortress Medical Systems.