PCBF turns out a major success

The COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) introduced the Pak China Business Forum (PCBF) in 2012, which was the 1st Pak- China Business Forum and takes place every year since then. The first four were held at the Pak-China Friendship Centre, Islamabad. This year the 5th Pak- China Business Forum 2016 took place at the Expo Centre, Lahore, from 19-22 March.

These forums attended and visited by hundreds of Chinese and Pakistani companies have been hailed an astounding success. This is a unique opportunity for Pakistani and Chinese enterprises to showcase their products and hold business meetings. This 5th PCBF proved to be the most successful of all of them as 700 Chinese delegates, 400 Chinese and 150 Pakistani companies actively participated.

An outstanding feature of these Forums is the several satellite thematic workshops that take place in conjunction. For example, the CIIT gives a very special attention to the development of biomedical materials from local indigenous resources and, therefore, this topic has received permanent attention. Biomedical materials is an interdisciplinary area. The Pak China Business Forum provides an excellent opportunity for an open meeting of scientists, engineers, clinicians, industrialists, policy makers, general public and regulatory affairs specialist, all under one roof for open discussions on key trends, research findings, clinical ideas and knowledge exchange.

During the 5th PCBF, thematic workshop on Biomedical Materials (BMM) was held on 22nd March. The key focus of the workshop was to understand the possibilities of establishing and strengthening linkages between the trip of university, industry and the clinic. In addition, regulatory affairs were also discussed. The session lasted for almost 4 hours, with 5 presentations by the eminent scholars, followed by a panel discussion.

Professor Saadat Anwar Siddiqi, Advisor CIIT, welcomed the delegates and highlighted the concept of PCBF paying a rich tribute to the vision of Prof. Dr. Syed Junaid Zaidi, H.I., S.I., in establishing the concept of PCBF for strengthening the economies of brotherly countries. He thanked the speakers and panellists. Dr Aqif Anwar (Head Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Biomedical Materials (IRCBM) CIIT, Lahore, gave a comprehensive introduction to biomaterials and the philosophy behind the establishment of IRCBM at CIIT. He thoroughly introduced various research groups carrying out research in different areas of biomaterials. The audience showed tremendous interest in the ongoing projects, including applause for IRCBMs Testing Service and the Training Cell.

The talk by Shaukat Ali, CEO, Business Management Consultant International, focused on mentioning the salient features of regulatory affairs related to commercialization of drugs and biomaterials in Pakistan and developed world. He provided extremely useful information on fulfilling the international standards, getting C-certification, necessary for commercialization and marketing of biomaterial products. He explained with practical examples the challenges and prospects of commercialization of locally produced research-based prototypes.

Dr Faraz Ahmad Saeed, CEO, Ahmad Saeed and Company, represented Pakistans small and medium enterprise sector. The main theme of his presentation was to highlight the hurdles between establishing academia-industry collaborative relationships. He suggested some novel methods for bridging the two components. He shared his personal experience of being successful in establishing meaningful collaborative relationship with IRCBM.

Prof. Dr Fridoon Jawad Ahmad, a renowned cell biologist working at King Edward Medical College University (KEMCU), Lahore, gave an excellent presentation on the fundamental concepts of fabricating scaffolds and tissue engineering for making various kinds of human biomaterial implants. The beauty of his presentation was that he explained the difficult scientific concepts and terminologies in a simple manner that was well received even by the non-specialists. He also highlighted the unfriendly atmosphere generally existing in the universities which becomes a hurdle for research. For example, the timely procurement of chemicals and equipment remains a big challenge in research.

The last talk was by Prof. Dr Syed Muhammad Awais (S.I.), former Pro Vice Chancellor, KEMCU. Lahore, who shared his vast experience of orthopaedic surgery in Pakistan utilizing bone implants of various kinds. He demonstrated that with well focussed efforts cheap, and reliable biomaterials can be developed from the indigenous resources. Based upon his vast experience, he identified the problems prevailing in orthopaedic research in Pakistan and suggested useful scientific and non-conventional solutions to deal with the problems related to bone repair.

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion that lasted for one hour. Apart from the speakers, Dr. Mustehsan Bashir, Head of the Plastic Surgery Department at Mayo Hospital, Lahore, and Dr. Nadeem Pasha, Assistant Professor, Lahore Medical and Dental College, were among the panellists. The discussion revolved around the quality of the implants being manufactured in Pakistan. Dr. Mustehsan mentioned that there is an urgent need of producing silicone based implants especially for plastic surgery as the imported ones are very expensive. An open discussion on the locally produced implants in the presence of all the stake holders, brought alive many important issues the clinicians face during their surgical operations. Also the cost of the imported products was a burning issue and in this case the latest research being conducted at IRCBM and effort for their commercialization of already developed prototypes, like bone fillers, skin and dental implants were greatly appreciated.

The Head IRCBM was thankful to the experts for their valuable input and guidance in producing biomaterials from our own national resources.

The author is an Advisor at COMSATS IIT, Lahore, President Khwarizmi Science Society and Vice-President of the Physical Society. He can be reached at saadat.anwar@gmail.com

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