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Interview with Informa’s Event Manager, Sarah Griffin

Ahead of CPHI North America, we spoke with Sarah Griffin Event Manager at Informa to get her perspectives on what’s new at the event and the year ahead for pharma in the United States.

CPHI North America is the only event where the world’s largest healthcare economy meets with global pharma markets, ingredients suppliers and all parts of the supply chain. Held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from April 25th – 27th in 2023 the event creates a central hub for the US drug development and manufacturing industry and features a who’s who of international pharma leaders, innovators and developers. The 2023 edition brings together thousands of pharma professionals from 80+ countries, with 65% of attendees having purchasing power and 48% from the C-Suite.


Q: What should be the major takeaways for companies ahead of CPHI North America? 

SG: “Exhibitors should look to maximize the value of being onsite at the event, as we see across all industries in North America, companies are looking to widen their supply chain networks and build in contingencies. Being able to meet this many existing partners and network with potential new contacts in one place is invaluable to the growth and security within the industry. But there is also a large desire from our community to harness the power of meeting in person, so exhibitors should see a high ROI from being at the event.”


Q: What topics at the conference will have a major effect on US companies going into next year? 

SG: “The topics and sessions are and will continue to be a direct reflection of the biggest trends that our communities are seeing in the wider industry. For example, emphasizing its importance to the industry ‘supply chain issues and capacity challenges’ have an entire track this year. Similarly, with many pharma customers and CDMOs are looking to work with new partners – mapping CDMO strategies is another major trend. With CDMO demand so high this means our communities are planning development and manufacturing strategies much earlier. The other big trend we are seeing is how we can use technology like AI to improvement production processes and development, and the ongoing debate about moving toward next generation manufacturing with greener technologies, and improved chemistries. We see some big and exciting years ahead for the industry.”


Q: What is demand in the US market like for CPHI?

SG: “Well the first off, we are fully booked in terms of booth space and there is a real desire within the market to meet in person. We have about 60% US based exhibitors and 40% international. It’s not just an appetite within the US to connect and we expect most events to return to full strength this year. But in terms of US pharma market specifically, demand is incredible, with domestic manufacturing and the wider pharma sector projected to outperform the wider economy reaching $429B by the year end. We view 2023 as a transformational year for CPHI North America and see the event growing dramatically over the next 2-3 years.”


Q: What are the new networking features?

SG: “We are doing something different this year for the welcome reception, inviting all exhibitors and attendees to our “Art of Pharma, 5th year Anniversary Ball” and hosted at the Philadelphia Museum of Art – which was of course is the setting of the famous Rocky film steps. What we are providing is an opportunity for informal networking and experiential interaction in the evening – plus, we’ve included free shuttles to/from the event. We have our fantastic sponsor Biophore to thank for such a lavish and exciting evening!

We have also completely redesigned our Match and Meet area and it’s reservable in the show app as an additional option outside of meeting at booths.”


Q: How is this year’s event different from previous editions?  

SG: “One of the big things we have done this year is evolved the back-end services of the event to make it much easier to do business with us. We’re listening to our customers and improving our services levels. All customer service inquiries are to be responded to within 24 hours – which for events is pretty transformational. We also placed all services and show links within a log in space that exhibitors utilize to book their booth. So no more searching for where to find what!”


Q: What are your plans for 2024? 

SG:We have some really exciting things happening in 2023 and into 2024. We are pushing the envelope and embracing new technologies. For example, we have cameras placed throughout the facility that will assess – without recording – what the averaged sentiments are from people that interact with screens at the event. This is obviously very next generation for events, and we’re excited to be able to provide this additional ROI to our sponsors! To take it another step further – we’ll be able to see which sessions were best received without even asking the audience. Another platform we are beta testing (for just VIPs for now) is to have the display ads adapt for a person’s interest provided in registration! All of this is to bring about a truly personalized event journey – next year we hope this technology will be much more noticeable and widespread.”


Q: Can you tell us about the new Center Stage happening in 2024?

“Center Stage will be a new edition for the 2024 event where exhibitors can purchase 30-45 minute blocks on the stage for any type of content they choose from product launches to booth promotion to content from around the world, with a special high-profile keynote on the last day of the show.”


Q: Sustainability is now big part of the industry agenda – how does Informa contribute to this?

“It’s huge part of the show now, and every part of the event has or is being reviewed for how sustainability can be improved. So many of the components including carpets are reusable and all vendors are reviewed for ESG initiatives. Our content is also driven by these goals, including multiple ESG focused sessions. For the cherry on top, we would encourage everyone to take an event survey, as we will donate $5 for each completed survey to iPraxis, a local charity that encourages and supports underserved middle schoolers to get into a science career, we’re aiming for at least a $5000 donation.”


Q: What is especially attractive about Philadelphia as a host city?

“Ease of access from the biggest pharma markets in the world, Boston, New York and of course the local Philadelphia region is well known as a hub of advanced therapy manufacturing. We stay close to the action making it easy for local companies to exhibit and attend. The East Coast corridor is well known as ‘the big hub’ for the supply chain suppliers and we are committed to bringing more biotechs into the event as well. Not to mention the historical significance of the area establishing, with the nation’s first drug mill  established here in the 1810s”.

Learn more about the opportunities and trends in USA pharma market by registering to attend CPHI North America – which is runs for three-days and spans 50 sessions with 5 dedicated tracks. Exhibitors cover the entire end-to-end pharmaceutical supply chain from clinical trial supply to ingredients manufacturing, packaging, biologics and finished products.

Register today to attend CPHI North America and meet other leaders from the world’s largest and most innovative pharma market: