This 2023 edition of the Pharma Manufacturing World Summit series ran May 15th and 16th at the Boston Marriott Copley Place in the heart of downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It was attended by 275 delegates, speakers, sponsor representatives, and guests from more than 200 different companies and organizations. The agenda included more than 40 keynotes, case studies, workshops, themed lunch discussions, focus groups, interactive think tanks, and more. Early feedback has been universally positive, and work is already underway to build upon this success and make next year’s summit even bigger and better.

That is the shortest overview we can offer of the event. Here is the longer version, which we will try to make both concise and at times entertaining.

In the Beginning…

The PMWS series began as a good idea put on hold that is finally getting its chance to shine.

Executive Platforms has organized the long-running and successful Biomanufacturing World Summit series in San Diego, California in Novembers and the occasional October since 2015, and it has grown to be one of the most popular of our annual events in terms of attendees coming back year over year and inviting their friends and colleagues to join them. Its convivial and collegiate atmosphere can be credited to the fact that the senior executives of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical manufacturers have all known each other since they were junior executives in the fledgling biopharma departments of the pharmaceutical giants of yesteryear, and they have worked together and in parallel ever since. The summits always begin with old friends hugging and asking about family, and we have been told many times that biopharma leaders have come to view our event as a kind of end-of-year reunion where they can all get together and discuss what they have been doing as a community. It has been an incredibly exciting decade for their industry, and the future ahead is bright. There is always plenty to talk about.

As you can imagine, a lot of work goes into preparing something so personal and important, and the dedicated Delegate Registration team responsible for gathering and coordinating all those different speakers and attendees have become specialists with a deep knowledge and network focused on pharmaceutical manufacturing. As Executive Platforms has grown over the years, we found ourselves in the position of having these highly trained and knowledgeable people spending six months of the year working on one big project, and six months of the year working on ‘other things’ until it was time to start building the next edition of BMWS.

It occurred to us that if we paired our West Coast biopharmaceutical manufacturing show in late Autumn with an East Coast event running in late Spring, we could have the Delegate Registration team who understood the technical content and had relationships with the relevant companies and senior leaders  always be working to their strengths moving from one event to the other and back. To round out the idea, while there are very good reasons to run a dedicated biopharmaceutical manufacturing event in California, anything running on the East Coast should include both Large and Small Molecule content, and so Pharma Manufacturing World Summit would be an appropriate name.

It was a great idea whose time had come, but the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

The first edition of the Pharma Manufacturing World Summit series was planned for late May of 2020. Without being dramatic, that was pretty close to as bad as COVID ever got. We announced the postponement of the event some time in April while we as an events company confronted the very real possibility that our business model of putting intelligent people together in a room to talk about their challenges and opportunities may no longer be something we could ever persuade intelligent people to do ever again. We ran PMWS21 the next year virtually, and while we do consider it a success, launching something a year later than planned virtually cannot be considered ideal. The first physical event in the series was PMWS22 in March of 2022 —the pandemic stirred up every event’s scheduling for a year and more, and March was as close to our original May dates as we could get— and if you consider how much of the planning for the physical event had started in 2019 for an intended 2020 show, that made PMWS22 an event with three years of coordination and effort put into it. It was a great first physical event in a new series meant to pair with the existing BMWS series, but it was still not everything we had hoped for in terms of positioning on the calendar.

PMWS23 —four years into the idea of building a twin on the opposite side of the country and opposite end of the calendar from the BMWS series— is the first of its kind to deliver on our original vision for the series.

The Welcome Day

Sunday, May 14th was Mother’s Day, so Executive Platforms chose not to build too much content into the Welcome Day to allow attendees more time with their families. A Welcome Drinks reception in the evening kicked things off on a happy note with a terrific saxophonist serenading the crowd, many of whom were lined up to enjoy our New England Clam Chowder station. The party wrapped up in time to allow early attendees to enjoy a pleasant evening exploring downtown Boston in ideal weather.

Day One

The event began in earnest early on a Monday morning. The registration desk opened at 7 am, and attendees enjoyed a breakfast in the Exhibition Hall sponsored by Vibraclean. By 7:50 am, everyone was in Conference Room One to hear the welcome address from PMWS23’s chairperson, Charles L. Cooney, MIT’s Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering, Emeritus, and Faculty Director, Emeritus Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation. Charlie had agreed to chair the postponed PMWS20 and then chaired the virtual PMWS21, so it was wonderful to have him on a stage MCing a physical event at last.

The opening keynote was, “Operational Excellence, Innovation & Teamwork as Enablers for Reimagining Medicine” delivered by Steffen Lang, Novartis’s President of Operations. The second keynote was, “Our Journey in Next Generation Manufacturing: What We Can Achieve Together” given by Jim Cafone, Pfizer’s SVP Global Supply Chain. After that presentation the agenda split into three streams of concurrent content. Room 1 continued to be chaired by Charlie Cooney, with Room 2 being chaired by Teresa Gorecki of Compliance Architects, and Room 3 being chaired by Tori Arens of Resilience. Broadly speaking, the content of Room 1 during breakout sessions was geared towards strategic manufacturing, while Room 2 was about quality topics, and Room 3 focused on supply chain issues. Delegates were encouraged to check the agenda on the event app and choose the sessions that interested them the most.

The first round of case studies in breakout rooms included, “Managing Innovation and Variability in a Growth Environment” presented by, Andy Wirths, the SVP Supply Americas of AstraZeneca, “The Uncommon, Common Sense of Organizational Change Management” given by Laquisha E. Crawford, Gilead Sciences’ Executive Director, Development and Commercial Biologics Quality, and, “Evolving Our Supply Chain: Enabling Competitive Advantage through Strategic E2E Integration” by Luis Roman, Johnson & Johnson’s VP Global Platform Leader- Small Molecules.

Following these sessions, summit attendees enjoyed a networking break that included pre-scheduled one-to-one meetings with other speakers, delegates, and sponsors. After the break, delegates had their choice of workshops: “Why Your Digital Strategy May Be Incomplete: How Legacy Models Prevent End-To-End Digital Manufacturing” presented by Marty Smyth MasterControl’s SVP, Go-To-Market Strategy, “AI in Action: Leveraging AI to Maximize Quality and Efficiency in Drug Manufacturing” given by Andy Alasso, Aizon’s Chief Product and Customer Success Officer, and, “The Iterative Approach to a Digital Cell and Gene Therapy Process – an Overview & Best Practice” by Judith Koliwer, the Principal Consultant, Cell & Gene Therapy for Körber Pharma Software. (Look forward to interviews with Andy Alasso and Judith Koliwer on The bluEPrint Podcast soon!)

This block of three workshops was immediately followed by three more case studies for delegates to choose  from. In Room 1 there was a “Fireside Chat: The Emerging Role of the CDMO in Commercialization of Advanced Therapeutics” where Charlie Cooney put questions to Spencer Fisk, the Chief Technology Officer of Resilience Inc. In Room 2 a speaker was unexpectedly and unfortunately not able to attend on short notice, but two attendees — Vicky Véronneau, the Global Head of Quality of Novartis, and Anders Vinther, the SVP Pharmaceutical Development & Manufacturing of Kronos Bio— very generously volunteered to do a spontaneous panel presentation on, “The Strategic Role of Quality in the Boardroom and on Executive Teams.” Meanwhile, in Room 3 Tim Elliott, Merck’s Executive Director, North America Supply Chain Operations, and Rich Kilmer, the CEO of CargoSense, did a joint presentation entitled, “Digitization and Visibility: The Future of Supply Chain Operations – a Small Parcel Distribution Case Study.”

The lunch break that followed included both an executive lunch seating sponsored by Germfree where delegates could sit with whoever they liked and talk about whatever they wanted, as well as more structured themed lunchn discussions hosted by executives who chose a topic that delegates could opt into ahead of time. These lunches are often among the most popular features of Executive Platforms events because of their intimate and unstructured but focused networking and group discussion on a topic of common interest. PMWS23 had eight such lunches on Day One.

Returning from lunch, attendees had their choice of three sessions. In Room 1, Morrey Atkinson, Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ SVP & Head, Commercial Manufacturing and Supply Chain, shared, “The Vertex Story: Serial Innovation in Manufacturing.” In Room 2, Babita Parekh, Eli Lilly’s VP Analytical Sciences and Global Bioassay Steward, talked about, “BEAST – Bioassay Standardization and Harmonization,” and in Room 3, Rick Panicucci, the SVP CMC of BridgeBio, gave a presentation entitled, “Bespoke Dosing and Manufacturing for Pediatric Patients.”

Theses sessions were then followed by another block of three workshops running concurrently. Azzur Group’s Ravi Samavedam and Chris Mansur talked about, “Build vs Buy vs Blend: Comparing Challenges and Opportunities for Early-Phase Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Options” in Room 1. Joe Goodman of Sparta Systems, A Honeywell Company, presented, “Your “Future-Proofed” Platform Is Holding You Back: Look to the Future with Connected Life Sciences” in Room 2, and Adam Pfeiffer and Charper Harper of Project Farma hosted a panel discussion with Kara Price of Pfizer and David Edge of Seres Therapeutic in Room 3 entitled, “Technical Operations Strategies for Transformative Medicines.”

The afternoon’s networking break was shorter than the morning’s, but no less productive and enjoyable. Afterwards, the delegates all moved to Room 1 to enjoy a virtual keynote, “Quality and Compliance from the Regulators’ Perspective” from Peter Marks, the FDA’s Director – Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER). This was then followed by a panel discussion, “ ‘Next’ Generation Manufacturing: What Did We Learn and Where Are We Going?” with Chris Horan, Artiva Biotherapeutics’ Chief Technical Operations Officer, Tim Moore, Allogene’s EVP, Chief Technical Officer, Craig Kennedy, Moderna’s SVP Global Supply Chain, and Pat Yang, the Vice Chairman & Co-Founder of Resilience, Inc.

Day One wrapped up with a networking drinks reception in the Exhibition Hall that included a violinist. Many delegates were also invited to an executive dinner sponsored by Accenture at Eddie V’s Restaurant.

Day Two

Tuesday, May 16th was another bright sunny day. Attendees enjoyed a good breakfast sponsored by Vibraclean in both our Exhibition Hall and at our breakfast workshop: “SmartFactory Rx® 2.0: Lessons Learned to Digitize our Pharma Future” presented by Amy Doucette and Rick Johnston of APG Pharma.

This was followed by Day Two’s opening keynote, “Leading Through Transformations and Integrations – The Evolution of Global Product Development and Supply” by Karin Shanahan, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s EVP, Global Product Development and Supply, and then a fireside chat with Carlo de Notaristefani, the Former Lead, Manufacturing & Supply Chain Advisor of Operation Warp Speed, entitlted, “The New Normal and Beyond: How to Design the Fit for Purpose Technical Operations Organization of the Future.”

At this point Day Two’s agenda broke into three concurrent streams of content again. The three case studies that began the streams of content were, “A Look into the Future: How Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Is Transforming to Bring Hope to Patients” by Jennifer Baxter, Merck’s VP, Small Molecule Science and Technology, “Integrating OE and QMS- An (In Process) Journey to Quality as a Competitive Advantage” by Kaoru Nishino, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Executive Director, Global Quality Management Systems, and “Supply Chain Constraints of High Value Raw Materials in mRNA Product Manufacturing” by Murali Muralidhara, the Chief Technical & Manufacturing Officer of RVAC Medicines.

The Day Two morning networking break gave everyone a chance to both digest the content they had enjoyed so far, and also connect on any prescheduled one-on-one meetings they may have missed the day before. Delegates could also enjoy an industry focus group taking place in the Exhibition Hall: ” The Evolution of Manufacturing: Exploring the Digital Vision for the Future of our Industry” hosted by Richard D. Braatz, MIT’s Edwin R. Gilliland Professor of Chemical Engineering.

The break was followed by another keynote, “Transforming a Global Development & Product Supply Network for Delivering a Multi-Modal Portfolio – It’s More than Flexible Facilities” by Jens Vogel, Bayer Pharmaceuticals’ SVP & Global Head of Biotech. This was ten followed by another block of three workshops: Room 1’s, “Can AI Deliver a ‘Real’ Advantage for Life Sciences Manufacturing?” delivered by Kim Forte, Iknam Gill, and Aishwarya Mantha of Deloitte Consulting LLP; Room 2’s “Global Talent Trends in Pharma and Biotech Technical Operations: A Perfect Storm,” which was a joint presentation by industry leader Michael Kamarck and Pascal Bécotte of Russell Reynolds Associates —stay tuned for an upcoming interview with the pair of them on an exciting new project!— and in Room 3 Brad Wynja of  INCOG BioPharma Services moderated a panel on, “Beyond Capabilities & Capacity: What Traits Should Biopharma Companies Look for When Partnering with CDMOs” with Amy Lovasco, Pfizer’s New Products Integration Lead, External Supply, and Omar Kassim, Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ Director of CDMO Relationship Management, PharmSci R&D.

Lunch on Day Two included both the Executive Lunch Seating sponsored by Germfree, as well as three interactive think tank lunches breaking down delegates into groups discussing “Digital Transformation Tactics and Strategies,” “Talent Attraction, Training, and Retention,” and “CMO/CDMO Challenges.”

Delegates had a choice between two presentations after lunch: In Room 1, Richard D. Braatz, MIT’s Edwin R. Gilliland Professor of Chemical Engineering, spoke about, “Designing the Next-Generation Advanced Therapeutics Manufacturing Process,” and in Room 2, Anders Vinther Kronos Bio’s SVP Pharmaceutical Development & Manufacturing, talked about, “Quality Leadership Before Quality Metrics and Quality Management Maturity.”

The final presentation of PMWS23 was a panel discussion, “How will the Way People, Processes, and Technologies Interact Change in the Next Ten Years?” with Joanne Beck, Chief Technology Officer of Aerium Therapeutics, Tim Moore, Allogene’s EVP, Chief Technical Officer, and Craig Beasley, the Chief Technology Officer of BlueRock Therapeutics all contributing.

In addition to the sessions mentioned here, Executive Platforms also recorded six 15- to 30-minute interviews on site for future episodes of its bluEprint Podcast Series, so be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!

Executive Platforms would like to thank everyone who contributed so much of their time, energy, and expertise to make this event such a success. Stay tuned for news and updates on PMWS24, which will be returning to the Boston Marriott Copley Place for May 14-15 of 2024!

Geoff Micks
Head of Content & Research
Executive Platforms

Geoff joined the industry events business as a conference producer in 2010 after four years working in print media. He has researched, planned, organized, run, and contributed to more than a hundred events across North America and Europe for senior leaders, with special emphasis on the energy, mining, manufacturing, maintenance, supply chain, human resources, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, finance, and sustainability sectors. As part of his role as Head of Content & Research, Geoff hosts Executive Platforms’ bluEPrint Podcast series as well as a weekly blog focusing on issues relevant to Executive Platforms’ network of business leaders.

Geoff is the author of five works of historical fiction: Inca, Zulu, Beginning, Middle, and End. The New York Times and National Public Radio have interviewed him about his writing, and he wrote and narrated an animated short for Vice Media that appeared on HBO. He has a BA Honours with High Distinction from the University of Toronto specializing in Journalism with a Double Minor in History and Classical Studies, as well as Diploma in Journalism from Centennial College.