Preparing for CPhI: Drug Sponsor Overview

Road to Barcelona


While CPhI is known to be one of the “big ones”, attendee numbers are still making their way back to pre-pandemic standards. Still, 40,000 people is, well… a lot. Zymewire will be there!

With only 3 days to do the rounds, you’re essentially left with two options to make the most out of the conference:

  1. Intense cardio training: Will allow you to run from meeting to meeting so no time is wasted (Bonus... look great in your conference attire)
  2.  Methodically prioritize your target companies: Give yourself the highest chance of stacking up meaningful conversations while avoiding dead ends. 

While we encourage everyone to stay active year-round, option #1 sounds sweaty, and we aren’t in the treadmill business, but we’ll gladly help out with the alternative. In this article, we’ll provide you with a high-level overview of the drug sponsors expected in Barcelona for CPhI. More specifically, we’ll break down the crowd in the following ways:




CPhI will bring together a mix of pharma and biotech companies, running from large to small, and many others lying somewhere in between. Consequently, the funding statistics for this conference exhibit disparities. When considering all attendees, they collectively represent a funding total of $11.11 billion since the beginning of 2022, with Bayer and Teva alone contributing a substantial $6.7 billion to this overall figure. 

TIP: Many large pharma companies will have several business arms. In the portal, Bayer and Teva have affiliate business units represented, but this doesn’t paint the full picture. As is usually the case when prospecting into these massive organizations, it often requires added effort. If you were to look at the representatives attending CPhI, you’ll find that some of the individuals work on the drug development side.

Things get interesting when you look at it from a different angle: How many companies received any funding at all?

In both 2022, and 2023 (so far), more than 90% of drug companies attending CPhI have not received cash injections. Funding is typically at the top of the list when it comes to prioritizing prospects. So, the good news is that it’s a short list to go through, the bad news is that you’ll have to go a few layers deeper as you prepare for the conference. We’ll continue into those extra layers below.


What's Filling Pipelines?


What kinds of drugs are filling the pipelines? Small molecule therapeutics have long propagated our industry, and still have a lot to give. However, the biologics space is brimming with potential, and drug companies are taking action accordingly.


Pipeline Contents: Molecule Type

Small Molecule vs. Biologics (CPhI)

The rise in popularity of biologics in drug development has been prominent and well-documented. We expect the trend to be accentuated in the next decade, especially with legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act favoring innovators working on this new(er) class of drugs. The “Neither” category denotes companies that can’t yet be associated with a molecule type. Note that there’s a 3% increase YoY at CPhI (compared to CPhI Worldwide 2022) when it comes to companies solely focused on biologics.

Now let’s take it a step further and dive into dosage forms.


Pipeline Contents: Dosage Form

Dosage Form (CPhI)

This is an important metric for service providers to pay attention to, especially for CDMOs. Note that many companies have multiple types of drugs being worked on, and would be represented in multiple columns.


Therapeutic Focuses


Which therapeutic areas are attendees most focused on? The numbers rarely surprise anyone, but it still serves as a great starting point to size your addressable market.

#1 Therapeutic Areas of Focus

Therapeutic Focus (CPhI)

Oncology is the most prominent area of study in the industry, so it’s no surprise that we see a strong showing of companies focusing on cancer research at CPhI. Otherwise, there is a relatively even spread across other therapeutic areas.


Active Clinical Trials


Next, let’s take a look at the level of activity present among the attendees. Below is a breakdown of all the active clinical trials, divided by phase, amongst drug sponsors.

Active Clinical Trials: By Phase

Active Clinical Trials (CPhI)

Thousands of trials are represented in this graph. As a service provider looking to stand out, you’ll not only want to know what active trials your prospects have, but how far along they are. 

For example, if you’re looking at Phase 1, you might want to separate trials that have just been initiated from those approaching completion, specifically those that will be progressing to Phase 2.


Company Maturity


We often discuss the topic of stealth & emerging biotechs, we throw around the words “small” and “large” pharma. Ask two people and two different companies what these terms mean to them, and you’ll rarely hear the exact same answer.

While the general meaning of the words is agreed upon, there are no concrete milestones one can really point to to place an organization within a certain bucket. The truth is, it’s a multi-dimensional topic and there will always be some level of subjectivity sprinkled in. Many of the charts we’ve shared infer some sort of information relating to a company’s development stage. You can also investigate whether or not a company has commercial assets, the number of employees, when the company was founded, and the list goes on. 

Another angle one might take is to look at the highest phase of development a company has mentioned, as it pertains to its own drug development activity.


Highest Phase Mentioned

Highest Phase Mentioned (CPhI)

Come Prepared


We’re firm believers that the hard work with conferences should come before you step on the venue floor. For those exhibiting, this includes all the details that go into preparing booths, the contents of goodie bags, what outfit you’ll wear on day one, and the one you’ll wear to that event after day one. 

Outcomes from conferences are judged based on the conversations had, and what comes of them in the weeks & months after they come to an end. While your company-branded Skittles might be enough to start a conversation, it certainly won’t make it memorable. 

Meaningful conversations stem from trust, and what better way to build trust with a prospect than to demonstrate that you’ve taken the time to understand their business, its successes as well as its shortcomings? Preparation can help you earn that trust.

We’ve touched on a few angles already, but we’ll close out by leaving you with some of our favorite aspects to dig into when we prepare for conferences:

  • Funding: Have they recently received funding? If so, where are the funds being allocated? If not, are they actively fundraising?
  • Pipeline: What’s being worked on? What do future R&D plans look like? Where might we fit in?
  • Existing Partnerships: Do they have ongoing relationships with other service providers or other biopharma companies?
  • Financial Reports: How is the company performing? What are the forthcoming strategies & initiatives?
  • Hiring: Any new significant hires? Why were they brought on board?
  • Conference Participation: Have they been to other conferences recently? Did they present any new results?


There’s no such thing as being overprepared for a conference. But, if you arrive in Barcelona feeling underprepared, the Zymewire team will be there and we’re happy to help out on that front. 

Looking forward to seeing you all in Spain!



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