BioNow Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Conference

NCIMB’s Business Development Manager Dr Jude Huggan reflects on the 2023 event

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the BioNow Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Conference in Darlington and what a great event it was!  It was brilliant to see such a great mix of speakers, exhibitors and delegates, showcasing the world-class biomanufacturing facilities and pharmaceutical companies that are located in the Northeast of England. 

I arrived in time to grab a coffee to chat to the exhibitors – some I’d met before, others I was meeting for the first time. It was great to hear more about their organisations, and to chat about how they support the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector. 

The event kicked off with some talks to highlight the work pharmaceutical companies are involved in to deliver a sustainable future, with some excellent talks from BMS, Origin Pharma and CPI on making facilities fit for the future and on the use of digital strategies to drive sustainability.  Next up was a keynote from Martin Meeson, CEO of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies – it was great to hear more about the exciting growth plans for the company and to learn how their recent $7.5Bn investment is going to be spent on.  Martin’s talk set up the next session perfectly with the introduction of the advanced technologies session which highlighted various projects companies in areas such as bioprocessing and digitalisation (CellRev; Siemens, AZ, Buoygues, Yokogawa and ATMP Solutions).

The last session before lunch – any my personal favourite – was focussed around Annex 1 and the importance of pharmaceutical manufacturing companies adapting their CMC strategies according to the changes that will be coming into force later in the year.

A welcome stretch of the legs in the sunshine along with some refreshments (and networking!) saw me ready for the afternoon sessions. These focussed on ensuring the pharmaceutical sector has an appropriately skilled workforce for the future, and showcased the cell & gene therapy capability in the region. 

The workforce discussion was very lively, with input from regional agencies, skills providers and large pharmaceutical companies, all talking about how what people look for from an employer has changed from what it was pre-COVID – candidates are less likely to be drawn towards a role for salary alone, and more likely to aspire to work for an organisation that can articulate their vision and mission, and offer them an excellent working experience.  The needs of employers are also evolved, with companies opting to hire for potential rather than experience and looking for candidates that are excited by what they do.

After a lively debate and a much-needed cup of coffee, delegates gathered back in the main conference room to hear from organisations working in the cell and gene therapy space and to learn about the support on offer via the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Network.  This is such an exciting area of science, with cell and gene therapies amongst the most complex and advanced medical treatments under developments so it was a great session to end the day.

Here are my top 3 take-home messages from the event:

#1 – Everyone in the room had a passion for why they do what they do – it’s all about delivering for the patient.  The patient comes first, always.

#2 – The NE cluster is a fantastic location for world-leading pharmaceutical manufacturing companies and CDMO’s.

#3 – Organisations need to continuously adapt and improve in order to keep pace with the requirements of the sector be they around sustainability, digitalisation or a skilled workforce.

Thanks for having me BioNow – I’ll be back!

More information about NCIMB’s services for the Pharmaceutical sector can be found here

Dr Jude Huggan, Business Development Manager, NCIMB

Everyone in the room had a passion for why they do what they do – it’s all about delivering for the patient.  The patient comes first, always.