How Did Conferences Evolve Around the World this Year within the Pharma and Biopharma Industries?

As a service organization, KCAS works to be as collaborative as possible to help our clients during the drug development process. For us, the personal touch is integral to building solid business relationships. Having to rely on email and on-line meetings can’t really compensate for the ability to chat beyond core business and develop an understanding of our customers’ personalities and how we can best work with them.

 

During the pandemic, we have been keeping a close eye on the policy of industry organizations, particularly in context of their annual conferences to assess when in-person meetings can become more possible. Although many companies are still hesitant about allowing employees to travel, KCAS feels it’s important to help support organizations who are trying to bring scientists together. We’ve “attended” virtual conferences that have provided a learning environment and the ability to trade ideas. What we’ve missed is the socializing between sessions or running into someone you met at previous meetings but you didn’t necessarily expect to see,

 

The authorization and subsequent availability of multiple vaccines meant that we were able to join our industry colleagues in late 2021 at PharmSci360 in Philadelphia and European Bioanalysis Forum (EBF) in Barcelona. The variation in style of venue and the number of attendees at each forum meant their approach to delegate safety differed but was still placed at the forefront of their planning and daily routine.

 

The annual American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences PharmSci360 conference was held at the convention center in downtown Philadelphia with approximately 1,200 in-person and 700 virtual attendees. In preparation for attendance all delegates had to show proof of full vaccination and register on the Clear Health Pass App. Each day involved answering health questions and presenting the updated App at the conference registration desk before being allowed to join any sessions.

 

KCAS has been a long-time exhibitor at AAPS so we had a strong booth presence this year too. Furthermore, both Senior Scientific Advisors were active panel participants in a couple of industry forum discussions.

 

For much of its 40-year history, KCAS has mostly focused on customers across North America while occasionally supporting projects from Europe and Asia. With new ownership based in London, we have the opportunity to develop a strategy to increase our global footprint and thereby broaden the range of clients we can work with.

 

As part of this strategy, we attended the EBF open meeting for the first time since the organization was established in 2006. Similar to PharmSci360, they moved to an in-person meeting in 2021 after a virtual session in 2020. The available 2021 delegate capacity was reduced compared to previous years so social distancing was possible. However, the meeting was in the same venue as previous years with sessions, coffee breaks and lunch all within a relatively enclosed environment so the organizers could set up controls to manage the flow of people. Proof of vaccination was necessary to obtain an attendee badge and entrance to the meeting each day was via a single location. There were around 280 delegates for the in-person conference with a virtual meeting held the following week.

 

This was an excellent opportunity for us to talk to European bioanalytical scientists about KCAS and our plans for the future. Long term, we will look to consolidate our presence at the EBF Open Meeting so customers expect to see us there as well as contributing to the scientific discussion around the bioanalysis of large and small molecule therapeutics and biomarkers.

 

Both meetings were well managed and provided a safe environment for exchange of scientific ideas. Sadly, the emergence of the omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has meant that industry conferences are announcing that they’re moving to virtual attendance again. We will continue to monitor the status of the pandemic so that KCAS can be there for our clients in whatever environment works for them.

 

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