Editor’s Note: This article was published in Pharmaceutical Technology Europe’s June 2022 print issue.
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The inaugural Connect in Pharma event will take place on 14 and 15 September in Geneva, Switzerland.
The bio/pharma industry, despite being renowned as a slow adopter of novel technologies, is experiencing a boon in innovation—be that in the therapeutic modalities under investigation, the techniques being employed for drug development and manufacturing, or advances in materials used for packaging and drug delivery devices. A major driver for innovation within the bio/pharma sector has been the COVID-19 pandemic, which propelled advances such as the approval of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines at record-breaking speeds and led to many companies pivoting to deal with the urgent requirements for capacity and supply chain flexibility needed to overcome pandemic challenges.
A major contributor in the efforts to combat COVID-19 was the European bio/pharma industry, with players from European countries providing key services and making important development breakthroughs. However, despite the various life sciences and biotech hubs and clusters located within the European region, there has not necessarily been a translation of expertise into commercial success, particularly in terms of biotech (1).
Editor’s Note: This article was published in Pharmaceutical Technology Europe’s June 2022 print issue.
Exhibitions and conferences are potential avenues for companies within the bio/pharma industry to showcase their expertise and broaden their potential commercial reach. In line with this type of entrepreneurial opportunity, event organizer Easyfairs is launching the Connect in Pharma event in September 2022 in Switzerland. “We’re really excited to be launching this event in Geneva, Switzerland, as we think it’s the ideal meeting place to bring together leading pharmaceutical companies, biotechs, and suppliers,” explains Josh Brooks, marketing & community director, Packaging at Easyfairs.
“Before deciding on a location, we conducted extensive market research, and it quickly became clear, just by the sheer proximity of so many biopharmaceutical companies, associations, and research centres, that the event had to be in Geneva. This city is at the heart of a number of leading European pharma and biotech clusters in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany,” Brooks continues. “There was nothing serving this market already in the centre of Europe, and we thought the Easyfairs team, with our deep experience in running events in the packaging world, could serve this segment of the market well. The event is perfectly placed to bring together key influencers from leading pharmaceutical groups, biotechs, industry clusters, and suppliers.”
To gain a greater understanding about this new event, Pharmaceutical Technology Europe spoke in more detail with Brooks about the event’s main areas of focus, things for visitors to look out for, the reasoning behind the formation of the event, and the prospects for the future.
PTE: Why have you chosen the four key areas—Innovative Packaging, Drug Delivery Systems, contract manufacturing organizations/contract development and manufacturing organizations (CMO/CDMO), and Filling & Assembling Processes—for the event?
Brooks (Easyfairs): The pharmaceutical and biotech markets are experiencing incredible advances across the sector. With an array of new developments in the field, including personalized treatments, biologics, nanotechnology, and increasing digitalization across the supply chain, to name just a few, we knew this was the right time to launch an event that would be geared towards looking at the future of innovation in the sector. Understanding the shifting landscape of European regulations and trends in innovation of drug design and delivery systems has never been more important.
What we’re doing is creating an event that looks at everything downstream of the molecule. In other words, once the science has been done, there’s a lot of resources that need to go into getting that molecule into a form that can be delivered in a safe way to a patient. Having the right drug delivery system, filling and finishing vials in a sterile environment, packaging, and outsourcing are all important components that are part of that process.
There’s a vibrant community in Europe making extraordinary advances in all these areas. Businesses are looking for the most effective way to bring their products to market against the backdrop of shifting regulations and an expanding and ageing population. We believe this biotech and pharmaceutical community is underserved, and we’d like to help bring key players together.
We’re very focussed right now on working with our newly formed advisory board to put together the details of the programme, but participants can expect to hear from experts on a range of subjects, from sustainability to patient-centred design to the impact of industry 4.0 on production and supply chains, to name just a few.
PTE: What can visitors experience while at the show?
Brooks (Easyfairs): After more than two years of cancelled events, we think it’s a really exciting time to be bringing people together. First and foremost, it will be an opportunity for visitors to discover the latest products and services that will help them solve their packaging and production challenges. Many of the world’s leading suppliers of devices, packaging, and CMO/CDMO services will be exhibiting—companies like BD, Gerresheimer, Catalent, Unither, Essentra, and many more—so it will be a perfect opportunity to meet these companies in one place.
Connect in Pharma aims to ensure that people have multiple opportunities to meet and network—like a champagne bar right in the centre of the event, VIP areas, and we’re planning a party on the evening of the first day. It’s about fun, but it’s also about making new connections and seeing old colleagues and friends—all in the interest of driving new collaborations, ideas, and innovations.
We’re also very happy to be able to share that we will be hosting the presentation of the inaugural Sustainable Medicines Packaging Awards, which are given by the Sustainable Medicines Partnership. It’s a new awards programme from a new organization that is aiming to drive a reduction in the environmental footprint of the whole pharmaceutical industry supply chain—more details can be found on the event website.
In addition to all that, visitors will find a conference programme that includes a range of opportunities to see and hear about advances and trends through plenary talks and workshops.
The plenary conferences aim to help the market think about the pharmaceutical Europe of tomorrow. This high-level and non-commercial conferences programme will give the floor to experts from labs including Roche, as well as consultants, corporates, and manufacturers at the forefront of future developments in the world of biopharmaceuticals. Organized as four half-days, they will each address a theme related to the four main areas of the supply chain present in the exhibition area: pharmaceutical packaging (primary and secondary), medical devices, pharmaceutical sub-contracting, and pharmaceutical equipment.
Visitors can also register for 45-minute workshops where experts in packaging, medical devices, pharmaceutical equipment manufacturers, and CMO/CDMO will provide insights and advice. These workshops are all about finding technical solutions to problems. It will be less of a product pitch, and more solution focused. This part of the programme is intended to provide representatives from pharmaceutical and biotech companies with the opportunity to interact with different suppliers to better understand best practices and challenges of their suggested solutions.
Furthermore, we are dedicating a portion of exhibit space to highlight innovation. This will allow participants to hear from exhibitors who will be demonstrating their latest innovation or technology within short, 15-minute segments. We think this will be a great tool to learn about the latest innovations in the market and find new suppliers and partners.
The event is taking place at Palexpo, the international exhibition and congress centre located within a two-minute walk from the Geneva airport in Switzerland, between 14 and 15 September 2022 Registration for the event is free.
More information about the event, exhibitors, and how to sign up to receive updates by email can be found at www.connectinpharma.com.
PTE: What are you hoping to achieve with this inaugural event? Are there any particular targets/outcomes you have in mind?
Brooks (Easyfairs): As this is the first edition of this event, our biggest challenge and measure of success will be around the extent to which we bring this community together. It will take a few years to build the brand so that Connect in Pharma becomes associated with connecting people and is recognized as the place to go to discover new clients and suppliers.
The dream scenario, the real measure of success, is when a product comes to market that happened as a result of a meeting or discussion that took place at our event. That can take a long time, but we’ve seen it happen time and again with our other trade shows, and that’s when you really know you’ve succeeded.
If we can create a new platform where people can meet, build their business, feel inspired and come away with new ideas, then we’ve done our jobs. For exhibitors, that means new business opportunities and new clients. For others, it will mean finding inspiration for what the future looks like and discovering new solutions.
PTE: Have you already started planning future events? Will the event be an annual occurrence or a different frequency perhaps? Will you expand the exhibition or change location, etc?
Brooks (Easyfairs): We have created Connect in Pharma as the first edition of an annual event. It is our ambition to grow the event in terms of scale. We expect to have about 100 exhibitors this year, but the venue at Palexpo has the capacity to accommodate larger exhibitions, and we expect the event to grow in the future. The location of Geneva will be maintained for any future events. We are always looking at ways to build our community. That means we will be looking at opportunities to develop the digital offering and exploring other meaningful and useful information services around the event.
1. J. Smyth, “Finance, Culture, Talent: Why Europe Struggles to Commercialize its Biotech Expertise,” Financial Times, 21 March 2022.
Felicity Thomas is the senior editor/European editor for Pharmaceutical Technology Group.
Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Vol. 34, No. 6
When referring to this article, please cite it as F. Thomas, “Connecting the Dots for Pharma,” Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 34 (6) 2022.