Held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in May, the annual BioPhorum meeting (BioPhorum 2019) attracted some 55 leaders from across the biopharmaceutical industry.
With this year’s major theme being the digitalization of biomanufacturing, member companies Boehringer Ingelheim, GSK and Lonza each presented case studies, covering topics such as artificial intelligence in process development, virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, smart glasses, learning from the likes of the aerospace and motorsport industry, digitized quality documentation and automated data-driven manufacturing, among others. Guest speakers from Zymergen and DataHow also discussed the potential of machine learning to improve quality and yield in fermentation processes by predicting and controlling optimum process parameters.
A delegate poll revealed that data mining, big data exploration and the investigation of golden batch parameters, and end-to-end supply chain visibility are currently the most actively pursued areas of digitization among members.
Elsewhere, McKinsey & Co’s talk on merger and acquisition trends illustrated that, despite a number of large, high-profile mergers, the biopharmaceutical industry is fragmenting. This trend is being driven by biotech start-ups, many of which are subsequently acquired to feed the development pipelines of larger biopharmaceutical companies.
The meeting included several ‘Marketplace Poster Sessions’ on a range of subjects, such as the Bio Competence Centre of Fribourg, the Technology Roadmap, cybersecurity, the Digital Plant Maturity Model and the Contract Manufacturing Organizations Summit.
Delegates also took the opportunity to visit the sites of two member companies. The 20,000m2 UCB facility at Bulle, which houses large and small molecule production alongside device engineering, dedicates its biologics production to Cimzia—an innovative therapy that treats Chron’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The site has recently undergone a major investment and expansion programme (project ‘K1000’). Merck Serono’s Corsier-sur-Vevey manufacturing facility has been operational for 20 years and now boasts a 150,000-liter capacity following a large-scale, six-year expansion project. Ongoing productivity improvements at the site are delivered through continuous processing.
The meeting closed with an agreement that BioPhorum 2020 will take place in Tokyo, with a facility tour hosted by Chugai.
For more information, contact Simon Chalk on Simon@biophorum.com.