THE 2ND BASEL WHY CAPEX SUMMIT: Innovations in CapEx Project Delivery in Pharma and Biotech

Blackfield Associates recently sent two members of the team, Callum Jones and Kyle Barrett, to the 2nd Annual CapEx Summit in Basel for a 2-day event discussing all things CapEx Project Delivery within the pharma and biotech space.

The latest pharma findings

The summit was a great experience with many learning opportunities, much networking, and the opportunity to enjoy the city of Basel. But what did we take away from this?

The overall consensus was that now, more than ever, CapEx scopes and project delivery within the pharma and biotech industry are becoming more and more complex with regard to the scale, product and timeline of projects being implemented.

With more and more projects requested to be ‘fast tracked’, the need for a solid project delivery programme and methodology has become more prominent.

Identifying the challenges

We saw several presentations from members of senior management teams at large global pharmaceutical organisations such as Bayer, Lonza, Novartis, Roche, CordenPharma and Fluor, (all of which are more on the delivery side), and the message was consistent throughout with regard to project delivery challenges.

The first common challenge is the need to have full transparency with all parties involved. The project delivery model is moving towards a full EPCM (engineering, procurement, construction, management) outsourced model, and several projects have suffered due to a lack of openness by all parties, with not all stakeholders willing to share the risk and reward of this project model. Several of the organisations explained how they would break up the tendering EP+CM to several engineering providers, but the problem around transparency remained the same. This leads to an interesting question: what is the best method to outsource a project? Will we see a single organisational approach in the future or more specialist engineering providers involved in a project than ever before?

The second challenge is the need to implement lean methodologies and agile ways of working, including the use of digitisation across organisations and digital optimisation/twinning using IPD (integrated project delivery) methods. This seemed to be a very hot topic, given that projects now have bigger scopes and budgets but shorter deadlines. It was clear that most organisations will be looking to implement these methods moving forward.

Finally, the lack of resources and correct personnel to implement these projects present a huge challenge. End-users and manufacturers have recently moved to the outsourcing model to try and tackle the resource challenges, and Blackfield is seeing a growing number of businesses facing this obstacle. Due to the specialist skillsets needed and GMP regulations, it can be very difficult to find local talent.

The continued importance of ‘right people, right time’

Overall, it seems that the CapEx investment within the pharma and biotech space will stay busy for the foreseeable future, but we cannot underestimate how important resources are along with lean/digitialisation methodologies to make sure projects are completed on time and within budget. This will definitely be an interesting area to keep an eye on and see how the market adapts and changes over the coming years.

“We were delighted the have the opportunity to attend the 2nd Basel CapEx Summit hosted by WHY Summit in Basel, Switzerland, to discuss innovations in CapEx delivery in pharma and biotech.

It was used as a critical platform to discuss the changes within the industry and utilisation of AI and SMART technology, with the need to upgrade infrastructure and technology to create and expand new facilities for R&D and manufacturing.

A key theme shared by all was that although the use of technology within the industry is on the rise with the adoption of digital twinning and digital supply chain discussed, the value of people, and the right people with the right skill sets has never been more pertinent. The struggle to find the right individuals is becoming more difficult.”

Kyle Barrett, Business Development Manager

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