AHMEDABAD: In a breakthrough initiative, Gujarat Technological University (GTU) is set to host the world’s first pharma hackathon in Ahmedabad. While hackathon events are held globally across the design, engineering and information technology sectors, this is the first time it will be held for the pharma sector. According to university sources, the event will be held in the first term of the academic year 2019-20.
A GTU source said, “The pharma hackathon is a problem-solving competition, where students will be given with problems relating to the pharma sector, for which they need to come up with solutions. These issues may be specific to industry or national healthcare, for which pharmaceutical solutions may be offered.”
“Gujarat houses 40% of the pharmaceutical companies in the country, both big and small. Industrial units often come across issues which can be resolved through research and development (R&D). The idea behind the pharma hackathon is to encourage students to come up with innovative technological solutions to industry issues,” said Navin Sheth, vice-chancellor of GTU.
The university has taken an in-principle decision to hold the event and has formed a four-member committee of pharma experts to sort out the modalities. A top source confirmed that representatives of the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA) have also been roped-in.
“The problems put to students will mainly be industrial issues and an industry representative will help decide these. While larger companies have separate R&D units, smaller firms often are unable to invest in R&D. This competition will be a medium to come up with innovative solutions,” the source explained.
Sources confirmed that Dr Shrenik Shah, vice-president of IDMA along and Dr C N Patel, dean of the faculty of pharmacy at GTU, are among the committee members.
On the eligibility criteria, varsity officials said a final decision is yet to be taken and there will be more clarity once the committee meets. The general consensus is to keep the event open to senior graduate-level students (i.e. third and fourth year students), postgraduates and doctoral scholars.