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Pharma Logistics Masterclass for Pharma Industry and Academics held in Antwerp, Belgium Concluded with Great Success

Pharma Logistics Masterclass for Pharma Industry and

Academics held in Antwerp, Belgium Concluded with Great


Between 7 to 11 September 2021, 75 business executives and academics gathered in

the historic building of the University of Antwerp (physically and virtually) for a five-day

intensive Masterclass on pharma supply chain.

A joint initiative by Pharma.Aero, University of Antwerp and the Metrans

Transportation Consortium, the Pharma Logistics Masterclass consisted of a series of

presentations, debates, practical workshops and site visits, highlighting and addressing

current challenges of pharma logistics and supply chains.

Professor Dr. Roel Gevaers, Co-chair of the Masterclass commented: "The inaugural

Pharma Logistics Masterclass covered several current critical aspects of pharma logistics.

It created an excellent opportunity for seasoned business professionals to gain more indepth

knowledge and for academics to obtain advanced insights into how pharma supply

chains are organized in practice.”

Frank Van Gelder, Co-chair of the Masterclass and Secretary-General of Pharma.Aero

added: "The unique knowledge-sharing and networking between business professionals

and academics during the Masterclass had built a bridge between the two communities in

the pharma logistics area. From the industry’s perspectives, the participants learned what

and how scientific methods could be applied to optimise logistics processes for the pharma

and life sciences sector. The participants also had an insightful crash course on vaccinology

and the importance of just-in-time and reliable supply chains, from raw materials to the

final products delivery."

The Masterclass concluded with nine strategic takeaways:

1. The pharma logistics market will continue to grow horizontally and vertically at

an accelerated pace. Not only would the market expands alongside with population

and disposable income, but also broadens with the next generation pharma such

as the Advanced Therapy Medicial Product (ATMP).

2. "PIL1 becomes VAL2'! Pharma goods are increasingly becoming valuable, which

require special security handling protocols, in addition to full trace-and-track

capabilities. The supply chain requirements of COVID-19 vaccines and an increasing

number of high-value pharmaceuticals in the market could already attest to this.

3. The pharma supply chain needs to become more sustainable. The pharma industry is paying more attention to sustainability throughout the supply chain, giving

pressure to the logistics industry to make more efforts to cater for this demand.

4. Air vs ocean freight. While pharma traditionally has a larger share of air transport

in terms of value, it was observed that the maritime industry is also stepping up

their offerings for the pharma industry.

5. Effectiveness is often more important than efficiency. Supply chains often focus

on cost efficiency. However, reliability, transparency, sustainability and security are

also critical parameters for pharma logistics.

6. Changes in business models (B2B to B2B2C) create last-mile challenges. Pharma

distribution models are changing rapidly with e-commerce distribution platforms

disrupting the classic distribution model. Pharma logistics companies need to adapt

to this fast-evolving environment.

7. COVID-19 is not the last disruptive event. While COVID-19 presents pronounced

logistics challenges, the Masterclass revealed the importance of collaboration and

building resilience in the pharma supply chain. The lessons learned during this

period should be integrated into future supply chains for better preparedness for

other major events in the following decades.

8. Big Data and new technologies will make significant inroads into Supply Chain

Management. Artificial intelligence and advanced analytics would steer future

decision-making in a blink of an eye. Such applications will become integral in the


9. Lastly, there is a need for increased coordination and collaboration between all

players in the supply chain. Participants of the Masterclass unanimously concluded

that there is a need for enhanced collaboration and exchange of information to

upgrade current supply chain to the next level.

The above key insights generated from the Masterclass demonstrated the need for

enhanced and continued knowledge-sharing between academics and the industry.

Following the success of the first Pharma Logistics Masterclass, the organizing committee

has decided to hold a second edition from 5-9 September 2022. The key transversal themes

of the second edition will be based on the main issues raised at the first Masterclass:

Sustainability, Big Data, Crisis management and Disruptive Technologies.

For more information, contact:

- Frank Van Gelder,, +32 477 95 05 21

1 PIL is the IATA code for ‘Pharmaceutical cargo’

2 VAL is the IATA code for ‘Valuable cargo’

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Last Updated: 16-Sep-2021