Finale of the GxP-Fest 2023 International Student Festival held in Moscow
The results of the GxP-Fest 2023 International Student Festival, which became the biggest in its history, have been summed up, with more than 850 people, 106 teams representing 78 specialized universities of Russia and other countries, including the EAEU member states, taking part in the competition.
The event was organized by the Eurasian Academy of Good Practices with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, the Eurasian Economic Commission, and the State Institute of Drugs and Good Practices of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation. The pharmaceutical companies R-Pharm, Akrikhin, Nacimbio, Sotex, and Pharmasyntez became partners of the GxP-Fest 2023.
The festival was held from 1 March 2023 through 21 April 2023. The competition comprised two stages and, for the first time, included two categories, i.e. a team and an individual one, for both the Russian-speaking and English-speaking student audiences.
The qualifying round in the form of a so-called pharmaceutical battle, or a multidisciplinary professional multiple-choice quiz, was held on 15 March on the Academy’s educational virtual platform. 40 teams and 10 individual participants who showed the best results were invited to the finale.
On 21 April, the final stage of the GxP-Fest took place. About 300 students of pharmaceutical, biotechnological and chemical departments of specialized universities of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and other countries, as well as professors, top managers and human resources specialists of leading pharmaceutical companies, as well as experts and other representatives of the pharmaceutical community gathered for the in-person event in Moscow.
Representatives of government authorities, the Eurasian Economic Commission, leadership of the Academy, as well as partners of the festival delivered welcoming address to the participants at the opening ceremony.
Vladislav Shestakov, Director of the State Institute of Drugs and Good Practices of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, noted that GxP-Fest was gaining momentum every year, while the interest of the younger generation in the pharmaceutical industry was growing steadily. “Challenges of today require non-standard solutions. We see that well-coordinated work in a team side by side with like-minded people leads one to success. The recent pandemic has shown that, in a critical situation, we can unite and work as a single mechanism. The goals of the GxP-Fest are to popularize pharmaceutical production among the student community, to identify young talents who would form the human resources pool for our industry and work for Russian pharmaceutical enterprises in the future. Despite all the changes and challenges, the priority for us remains the same, i.e. to ensure the country’s drug safety. And a new generation of specialists will join us in solving this issue very soon.”
Dmitry Galkin, Director of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Medical Industry Development of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia, confirmed that the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most dynamically developing sectors. Over 10 years, the pharmaceutical market has increased fourfold. “The industry opens a big window of opportunities. Moreover, the GxP-Fest is getting more exciting every year. The presence of top managers of large pharmaceutical companies proves that the event is important not only for its competitive section, but also in terms of the development of future human resources. Today pharma is very multifaceted, it embraces issues of medicine, mathematics, information technology, law. At the present stage of the industry’s development, an interdisciplinary, integrated approach is needed. The interactive format of the festival allows having a good and useful time, and taking a closer look at the future profession, its salient features. For senior students, this is a unique opportunity to show their portfolio to pharmaceutical companies, and get an internship with subsequent employment.”
Chinara Mambetalieva, Deputy Director of the Department of Technical Regulation and Accreditation of the Eurasian Economic Commission, highlighted that the challenges of the present time created new opportunities for development throughout the EAEU zone, and one of the priorities was the production of innovative pharmaceuticals. “The issues of training specialists and human resources development with a focus on industrial pharmacy are even more relevant,” she believes. “The Eurasian Academy of Good Practices has assumed great responsibility for attracting students to industrial pharmacy and identifying talents. Participation in the GxP-Fest is a great start for successful development in the industry.”
According to Lilia Titova, Executive Director of the Union of Professional Pharmaceutical Organizations, the main achievement of the GxP-Fest is not only the expansion of geography, but also the change in the content of tasks. “At first, it was a test of the knowledge gained while studying at universities. Today, the tasks have become broader and allow participants to demonstrate their scientific skills, an ability to think out of the box, and a desire to know their future profession more profoundly. The event is truly unique,” she noted. “Companies need young employees. The pharmaceutical industry is an industry where it is impossible to get a set of knowledge once and use it throughout your life. It is developing rapidly and needs to be constantly updated. We go through tough times nowadays, but this has given an impetus to the development of science and technology. The GxP-Fest provides an opportunity to get to know various areas of the pharmaceutical industry and choose the trajectory of one’s future career.”
Tatiana Vyazmina, Quality Director of the R-Pharm Group of Companies, noted the great interest of business in interacting with students. “The festival is changing for the better, new formats are emerging that involve not only students, but also professors, experts and the entire pharmaceutical industry in the process. It was very difficult to get to the finale this year – and this is already a big achievement. At the GxP-Fest, you can take a closer look at the specifics of pharma, choose the most exciting direction for professional development.”
The head of the Department of Industrial Pharmacy of the Institute of Professional Training of the Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University Doctor of Pharmacy, Professor Natalia Pyatigorskaya noted that with the dynamic growth of technology, education becomes continuous, the need for knowledge is very important both for those who are still studying and for those who have already taken place in the profession. “The competition for acquiring the knowledge is huge. Whoever has the knowledge is the designer of tomorrow, of the world view, and of their own happiness,” she said. “At the same time, breakthroughs and discoveries cannot be made without emotions, so it is necessary to learn and work with emotions. Pharmacy is an association of people who are passionate about it, who are interested in the development of science, technology, and new treatment methods. And young people are the most active, vibrant and energetic community that strives to improve the quality of life and make it better and more beautiful.”
Ilya Sankov, General Director of Bionika Digital, head of the Medvestnik and Farmvestnik portals, added that all paths are open to students today. “Anyone who decides to link their future with the pharmaceutical industry will never be bored,” he trusts. “Now the problem of import substitution industrialization is being addressed. But an even more ambitious challenge is the development of export potential, access to foreign markets, and taking a decent share in the markets of Asia, Africa, South and Central America.”
The captain of the Phafm Power team, which won the GxP-Fest 2022 competition and represented the St. Petersburg State Chemical and Pharmaceutical University, was invited to the opening ceremony, too. Ulyana Nogayeva spoke about the professional successes of her team members over the past year and noted that the victory in the festival opened up new opportunities and became a bright launching platform.
Professor Irina Spichak, Doctor of Pharmacy, Executive Director of the Eurasian Academy of Good Practices, addressed the gathering on behalf of the organizers of the GxP-Fest 2023. She congratulated all the finalists of the competition, and especially noted the international presence at the festival, as in 2023 it was attended by students not only from the EAEU countries, but also from far abroad – India, Egypt, Morocco, Syria. Special words of appreciation for the participation and support of the GxP-Fest 2023 were addressed to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia, universities and the heads of pharmaceutical companies present at the event. “For many young people, a meeting with top managers of well-known pharmaceutical companies can be pivotal, as it will create even greater interest in the industry and outline a trajectory for further development in the chosen direction, set up for success. At the same time, we are happy to show the business what a cool student community we have, what creative, inventive and knowledgeable young people. If they join the industry with such a passion, they definitely have a great future ahead.”
After the official greetings, an open dialogue “The Future of Pharma is My Future” took place at the GxP-Fest 2023 site – the first industry meeting of the relevant students with representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia and CEOs of the largest pharmaceutical companies. Students had a unique opportunity to put questions to well–known experts – industry leaders – and get competent answers firsthand.
Dmitry Galkin, Director of the Department for the Pharmaceutical and Medical Industry Development of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia, was asked about the achievements of domestic pharma, which one can be proud of. As an example, he noted the successful fight against covid. Russia produces the necessary pharmaceuticals that are recommended for the treatment of coronavirus. Answering the question about sanctions, he noted that in a global sense, healthcare and pharma from the viewpoint of products, fortunately, were beyond restrictions, but there were some difficulties with production, because logistics had become much more exorbitant. It is necessary to replace separate raw materials and means of production. The independence, according to him, is expensive. “You can do everything yourself, but economic expediency is the question. Pharma is always about cooperation and a balance between its own developments and technologies and established production chains,” he stressed.
When asked about the challenges faced by enterprises in organizing new production, Vladislav Shestakov, Director of the FSI “SID & GP” of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, replied that the key to success is the competent pharmaceutical engineering, a professionally developed team, and a balanced product portfolio.
Vadim Yatsuk, CEO of the Sotex Pharmaceutical Company, raised the issue of retaining young employees at pharmaceutical enterprises, not always located in Moscow, but more often in the region and province. In his opinion, the regional authorities should pay more attention to creating a comfortable social infrastructure for young people so that they can stay working in small towns where modern pharmaceutical manufacturing sites are open.
Answering the question about who is in charge at the pharmaceutical enterprise, General Director of the National Immunobiological Company (JSC “Nacimbio”) Andrei Zagorsky said that a balance of interests was needed. “On the one hand, sales managers are very important, because it is them who bring money to the company. On the other hand, production is important, because if you do not release the product, then there will be nothing to sell. At the same time, quality services are important, because only a quality product can be sold. From this we can conclude that the main one is the consumer, for whom everything is being done,” he summed up.
Rustem Muratov, CEO of Binnopharm Group, shared his opinion on the feasibility of developing one’s own drugs and pharmaceutical substances. “The economy determines everything. The key issue is the scale. Russia’s share in the global pharmaceutical market is about 2%; together with the EAEU it makes 3-3.5%. The development of an innovative drug can take 10 years and cost about a billion dollars, so it is time-consuming and costly. Such costs can be recouped only with a large sales market. As for the development of pharmaceutical substances, this is a kind of business at the confluence of pharmacy and chemistry. This requires people with special competencies. It is very difficult to open such a production from scratch and it is not always economically profitable. At one time, India passed this way, now China is passing to some extent. And Russia can do it in the future, too”.
Vasily Ignatiev, CEO of the R-Pharm Group of Companies, outlined the main priorities of the Pharma 2030 strategy. First of all, it is the provision of healthcare and patients with high-quality medicines in the proper volume and range, readiness for import substitution, as well as the increase of the export potential of the Russian pharmaceutical industry. “We focus on innovative developments and in 5-7 years we will actively enter international markets. It is hardly possible to be absolutely independent from imports. If you set such a goal, it can be achieved in principle, but it hardly makes sense,” he believes. Vasily Ignatiev was also requested to describe the set of competencies of a successful specialist in the pharmaceutical industry. He identified four main components, i.e. good basic knowledge of relevant sciences, openness to everything new, flexibility and adaptability to changes, as well as self-discipline.
After the open dialogue session was over, the students did not let the experts go for a long time and continued asking questions. The speakers answered them with great pleasure and were in no hurry to leave, despite their busy schedule. Thus, the official part turned into informal personal interaction.
As part of the GxP-Fest 2023, other formats of interaction between students and pharmaceutical companies were also there. The area with exhibition booths of pharmaceutical enterprises was partucularly popular, enabling students to become acquainted with vacancies and internships, get full information on the requirements and employment opportunities.
In the second half of the final day of the GxP-Fest 2023, a series of workshops by the ISPE Association and pharmaceutical companies Akrikhin, R-Pharm, Sotex, GEN Pharma Rus, and Pharmasyntez took place. A unique workshop was delivered by the FSI “SID & GP”, at which the institution’s experts told the student audience about the pharmaceutical inspectorate in Russia and the process of training of pharmaceutical inspectors. The workshop aroused the lively interest of the audience and were held in crowded halls.
The organizers of the festival did not leave the professors aside, either. Especially for them, a workshop was held on the use of the innovative simulation training complex “Virtual Pharmaceutical Plant for Universities” – a new joint development by the FSI “SID & GP” of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia and the Eurasian Academy of Good Practices, for immersing students in the production environment and honing their professional skills.
As part of the final stage of the competition, a GxP quest was held for student teams and individual participants. The interactive game was aimed at finding professional solutions to the tasks on the special game field, providing for different levels of challenges and opportunities. The unique software for the quest was developed by the Academy’s specialists. The participants were able to show knowledge, ingenuity and coherence of action. The teams that went through the game field within the shortest time and with the minimum number of penalty points became the winners.
As a result, the 1st place was taken by the Devochki team of Yaroslavl State Medical University. The GGirlsP team of Vyatka State University took the 2nd place. The Rubicon team of the St. Petersburg State Chemical and Pharmaceutical University became the 3rd place winner.
The winners among the individual participants were Daria Devyatkina taking the 1st place, Sofia Smirnova with the 2nd place, and Dmitry Druzhininsky taking the 3rd place.
Participants from abroad were awarded separately. Tameloucht Achraf Sym (Morocco) became the 1st place winner, the 2nd place was taken Abdelkarim Elmantagui (Morocco), and the 3rd place went to Dabae Sandy Adel (Egypt).
After the award ceremony of the winners of the GxP-Fest 2023, a tour of Moscow was arranged for all the students.
Generally, the event was organized at the highest level and left lots of positive impressions both among the students and among the pharmaceutical industry experts. Everyone noted that the 2023 festival was held with great spirit and provided exclusive opportunities for networking, interaction, and experience exchange.
- Cooperation issues in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare system were discussed at the Russia-Africa Summit
- International cooperation discussed at the Drug Safety Forum
- Transformation of medical education and training of highly qualified personnel discussed at the Uzbek-Russian Medical Forum
- Memorandum of Cooperation signed between the Eurasian Academy of Good Practices, State Center for Expertise and Standardization of Medicines, Medical Devices and Medical Equipment (Uzbekistan), and Rusatom Healthcare JSC
- The prospects for the development of cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia in the pharmaceutical industry were discussed as part of the business mission Made in Russia + INNOPROM