ABOUT THE HOST: 

The European Paediatric Formulation Initiative (EuPFI) is a consortium founded in 2007 and is a catalyst in development, innovation and regulatory science in paediatric drugs. The primary goal of EuPFI is to promote and facilitate preparation of better and safer medicines for children. 

EuPFI is a globally recognized unique network. It brings together key expertise in paediatric drug development from large and small pharma companies, specialist CMO/SMEs, academic partners, consultants and clinicians.EuPFI logo

Their goal is to proactively identify and discuss critical paediatric formulation and development challenges and opportunities. EuPFI provides the knowledge to fill those gaps via a number of targeted work streams, publications and an annual conference. It is internationally viewed as a core expert opinion group in the paediatric formulation area. 

EuPFI Conference 2020 

EuPFI hosts their annual conference in different locations each year. The 12th Annual EuPFI Conference 2020 was initially scheduled to take place in Venice, Italy. Plans for a physical event had to be reviewed because of COVID-19. So, the team started considering an online conference. 

What EuPFI wanted to accomplish together was still important. This is why during the unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic, EuPFI decided to organize a live online EuPFI conference instead of an in-person event. 

EuPFI virtual conference was not to be just another series of webinars, without any poster discussions, exhibitions, or presentations. They wanted to ensure that EuPFI virtual conference 2020 reflected the in-person event. Engagement and interaction was a critical part of these conferences, and they wanted that essence to remain intact regardless of the platform.  

However, one thing not per EuPFI’s requirements was the long standing tradition of hosting a pre-conference on ‘hot topics’. This pre-conference was always an ice-breaker, helping attendees settle in and get comfortable. 

EuPFI came across vFairs while looking for a platform that would uphold their requirements. With vFairs they did not have to compromise on live exhibitions, poster discussions, presentations, and Q&A sessions, which were of utmost importance.

STRATEGY

vFairs put together a virtual platform for EuPFI where they did not have to deviate from their key objectives. These objectives were consistent even with a change from in-person to virtual platform. EuPFI focused on: 

  1. raising awareness about paediatric formulation.
  2. sharing new research and research findings in the field.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic hindering daily life activities, EuPFI virtual conference was launched on September 9th, 2020. This was their 12th annual conference. 

The event can be viewed here: https://eupfi.vfairs.com/

Let’s dive into some of the key features of the online conference to understand what made it an absolute success for EuPFI. 

LOBBY DESIGNED TO KEEP IT CLOSE TO REALITY 

The lobby was designed with a specific purpose in mind. EuPFI wanted to bring to life their actual intended destination for the conference, which was Venice. Hence it was imperative that the lobby mirrored a similar relaxed atmosphere. The agenda was also clearly visible to keep the audience informed of the schedule of events. Even the lounge maintained the desired environment virtually, and was not too formal. 

Virtual conference lobby

ENGAGING THE AUDIENCE WITH WEBINARS

A number of webinars were scheduled in the virtual auditorium, which was easily accessible through the menu bar at the top of the page. The virtual auditorium hosted speaker sessions on a range of topics. The webinars were a mix of pre-recorded and live sessions. Poster presentations, focus and plenary sessions were pre-recorded whereas the Q&A sessions during these webinars were live. The live Q&A sessions after each talk allowed for greater engagement between participants and speakers.  

virtual auditorium

A PLATFORM THAT MADE E-POSTERS A REALITY 

EuPFI was apprehensive about missing out on one of their key event features in this virtual conference, which is the poster presentations. These poster presentations are made by research students who are working in the paediatric formulation area. Hence, EuPFI was keen on keeping this in the online event. 

vFairs made this possible by creating a specific tab for e-Posters, which was clearly visible in the menu bar. Poster agendas, PDF posters, presentations, and even Q&As were made available for the attendees under e-Posters. These posters were also available after the sessions, and could be downloaded later as well. 

e-poster sessions

EASE OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN EXHIBITORS AND ATTENDEES 

The organizers wanted to facilitate easy communication between exhibitors and attendees. vFairs therefore ensured that their exhibit hall was easily navigable with five exhibitor booths on either side of the walking space. The hall had ten distinct booths and the design was kept close to reality. It had a relaxed vibe similar to the physical event.  

The pharmaceutical exhibitors and participants were able to interact with each other effortlessly. The exhibitors could: 

  • design and customize their booths according to their specific requirements
  • add documents/videos tailored to their individual objectives
  • add links to their social media profiles
  • engage with attendees in real-time via audio, video, and text chat options 
  • present career opportunities & allow participants to search for jobs.

exhibit hall

SIMPLIFIED NETWORKING BETWEEN EXHIBITORS AND ATTENDEES

vFairs created a separate tab for networking in order to facilitate maximum engagement between exhibitors and attendees. The attendees had the option to join the chatroom of whichever exhibitor they wanted to. The option to call and talk to the respective person in any chat room allowed for fluid and unhindered communication between both parties. 

An information desk was set up in the virtual event platform. Here, participants could meet delegates, see their profiles, and even drop in feedback for the event. This, again, presented the perfect opportunity to increase interaction among participants and exhibitors. 

virtual chat room

virtual Information Desk

CLEARLY ACCESSIBLE AND SHAREABLE CONTENT  

A specially created ‘video vault’ hosted all videos such as messages from founders, origins of pharmaceutical companies, their processes, and other technology-related videos. In addition to the video vault, various resources such as posters, product overviews, pamphlets, etc. were also available. These could be stored in the attendees’ virtual ‘swag bags’ and were easily downloadable after the event. 

virtual swag bag virtual swag bag

RESULTS

EuPFI virtual conference had a great turnout. The team was extremely pleased with their first online event. Even though this was a new experience for them, it didn’t hinder their efforts in achieving their primary objectives. Along other benefits the organizers was able to allow attendees to: 

  • network seamlessly through the chatrooms, and look up fellow industry professionals through the Information Desk
  • view and download e-Posters, presentations, and participate in Q&A sessions
  • view individual exhibitor booths and access showcased material
  • download resources and view videos, also for later use.

Since the event was online, and people were joining in from different parts of the world and different time zones, the conference could not be a full-day event like it usually was. However, there was a surge in attendance this year due to the virtual aspect of the event. In addition to which there were no visa issues, travel costs, or restrictions involved. 

Smita Salunke, EuPFI Chief Scientific Officer was delighted with the feedback she received from the exhibitors and participants alike. She was happy with how the virtual event allowed easy multitasking.  People could hop from one place to another and cover more ground than a live event. 

Smita is convinced this event has opened up new avenues for future virtual events. She stated, “it has given us confidence that virtual events can be successful.” 

She praised vFairs team for delivering a platform that was “intuitive and user-friendly, with an easy-to-navigate interface, and simple/self explanatory backend .” The EuPFI conference organizing team members appreciated the enthusiasm and prompt service of the vFairs team.  Be it before, during, or after the event, vFairs team was fast in providing solutions and answering queries. This made the first EuPFI virtual conference to be a roaring success! 

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