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In Conversation With Pharma.Aero Leaders Trevor Caswell And Frank Van Gelder

Pharma.Aero is a global cross-industry collaboration platform for LifeScience and MedTech companies, certified cargo communities, airport operators, and other air cargo market players. The association encourages collaboration through projects that address air transportation issues, the challenges faced by the Life Science and MedTech sectors, and the challenges faced by LifeScience and MedTech sectors.

Recently, Abu Dhabi Airports partnered with Pharma.Aero. The collaboration builds on Abu Dhabi’s growth as a global healthcare and life sciences hub, as well as the success of the HOPE Consortium, an Abu Dhabi-led public-private partnership, determined to work together to overcome vaccine distribution and logistics challenges.

Here, Vibha Mehta, Editor of Logistics News ME interviews Trevor Caswell, Chairman of Pharma.Aero and Frank Van Gelder, Secretary General of Pharma.Aero about their recent collaboration and plans for the Middle East…

Collaboration With Abu Dhabi Airports

The region of the Middle East is geographically an essential region for airfreight and having a strategic international airport hub such as Abu Dhabi International Airport is vital. Etihad Airways has been a Pharma.Aero member for the past four years – collaborating intensively, seeing their focus on pharma logistics growth.

In 2022, Pharma.Aero, Etihad and Abu Dhabi Airports had the opportunity of working together closely on a significant and ambitious project, the Pharma Logistics Masterclass that Abu Dhabi hosted this past September.

“We collaborated with HOPE Consortium and Khalifa University to organize this unique 5-day event that attracted over 120 industry experts and international academics to Abu Dhabi,” says Trevor Caswell, CEO of Pharma.Aero. “With the full support and active contribution of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the collaboration brought together industry professionals, policymakers, international experts, and academics representing 50 pharma supply and manufacturing companies, five world-renowned universities and government authorities from the United Arab Emirates and Belgium.”

Abu Dhabi Airports and Etihad (another of Pharma.Aero member) made important contributions to the success of this massive event. It was an experience that opened the door to a more active, robust cooperation. The addition of Abu Dhabi International Airport as a Pharma.Aero’s Strategic Airport Member was a logical result of their excellent partnership this year.

Future Pathway For This Partnership

For Pharma.Aero, the top priority is to secure the satisfaction of the strategic airport partner in the first place. This will induce support in their regional pharma fora, involve them in the different projects and initiatives our organization is standing for and finally support their development as a reference hub in the region and globally.

“If you look at our projects, and I encourage you to check our website, they cover a wide variety of topics, from digitization to next-generation therapies or innovative logistics solutions, with an important focus on sustainability,” says Frank Van Gelder, Secretary General of Pharma.Aero. “Every member and partner brings a valuable perspective, thus having an important contribution in identifying challenges and opportunities to be explored.”

Moreover, Etihad recently announced the launch of its state-of-the-art cold-chain facility to double the pharma handling capacity at Abu Dhabi International Airport. It is the perfect location to connect the Middle East to the world.

“It is an investment that reflects the vision to play an active role in the global ecosystem, and this is an important ingredient for a strong, active, collaborative partnership that will, beyond any doubt, result in new innovative projects to further contribute to achieving excellence in reliable end-to-end transportation of life science and med tech products.”

Challenges In Developing The Strategic Partnership

When there is an onboarding of an international airport hub as a strategic partner, they give the candidate a set of obligations and responsibilities. “The end goal is reciprocal growth and participation in providing content and walking the walk for the life science air freight business,” says Frank.

“Moreover, Pharma.Aero carefully assesses the prospective airport’s passion and motivation to represent Pharma.Aero in the region and potential interests we can support and grow with the airport.”

They will also be included in the organization’s general assembly, putting them in charge alongside other important airport partners and pharmaceutical makers – they become ingrained in the organization’s DNA.

Pharma.Aero’s Growth Plans In The Middle East

For Pharma.Aero, a leading cross-industry collaboration platform, it is critical for them to have strategic airport hubs in different regions of the world – enabling them to further create a good foundation for international collaboration.

Trevor adds, “There is no other neutral organization like ours that brings shippers and end-to-end supply chain partners together to collaborate, share ideas, challenges and opportunities, and ultimately strengthen our global pharma supply chains.”

By becoming Pharma.Aero’s Strategic Airport Member for the Middle East, Abu Dhabi International Airport, will represent Pharma.Aero and its work in the region, thus raising awareness of what they do and attracting new partners for new projects that target genuine issues faced by the industry.

“Jointly with our members, we ideate and develop projects that focus on end-to-end supply chain visibility and address air transportation issues and challenges faced by the Life Science and MedTech industry,” says Trevor.

On the other side, it provides opportunities for Pharma.Aero to connect healthcare and pharmaceutical manufacturing development in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi is home to renowned healthcare providers. It has been working closely with key players in the biopharmaceutical industry to boost local and global capabilities in life science research and innovation, digital health, and supply chain – cementing its position as a leading destination in healthcare and life sciences.

Furthermore, as a life science hub, Abu Dhabi has exhibited an exceptional reaction and accomplished impressive achievements since the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UAE’s capital established an outstanding model for offering the most incredible quality of care to patients in the Emirate and topped worldwide rankings, reinforcing its position as a leading destination for advanced healthcare and an incubator for healthcare innovation, both locally and globally.

Shaping The Pharma Logistics

Pharma.Aero is still a young organization that matured over the past few years. Founded in 2016, it expanded into a global network of 49 members and associate partners on six continents.

“Our platform brings pharma manufacturers, airport communities, airlines, ground handlers, digital platforms, and other stakeholders along the pharma supply chain. It is great that we are increasingly referred to as a global leader in the pharma logistics space. This is mainly driven by the unique combination of having the pharmaceutical manufacturers and the different industry stakeholders at the same table. Through our projects, we deep dive into pharma logistics and air cargo aspects and assure a more global and neutral approach,” says Frank.

Furthermore, they represent the pharma logistics industry at important international events, where their members participate and share valuable insights into industry cases. They also have strong partnerships with complementary international associations, fulfilling the aspects of pharma logistics in the different programs.

Trevor states, “We actively contribute to the definition of the future roadmap for pharma logistics through our unique collaboration with the academic world, as we bring an international masterclass on pharma logistics, where academics and industry experts focus on current and future scientific and industry developments.”

“And we will not stop here. We are working on developing more new initiatives in which we embrace international collaboration between pharmaceutical manufacturers and the air cargo industry,” adds Frank.

Regional Strategic Initiatives Concentrating On 2023

To kick off 2023, Pharma.Aero will participate at the World Cargo Summit in Abu Dhabi. Their strategic partner, Abu Dhabi International Airport, will host the conference, and Pharma.Aero will be involved in the program, bringing in the valuable expertise of our global network of members representing the end-to-end pharma supply chain.

Lastly, Trevor comments, “Furthermore, we will present and have a Pharma.Aero booth at the LogiPharma conference in Lyon, and we will, together with our strategic airport partners, investigate supporting regional initiatives. And, of course, for the third consecutive year, in September, we will organize our International Pharma Logistics Masterclass that will bring together industry executives, experts, policymakers and international academics for a unique knowledge exchange.”

From Logistics News ME December 2022 Issue