ICIS Innovation Awards: Going for gold in 2012

16 April 2012 00:00  [Source: ICB]

The search for the most innovative products and processes, business practices, and environmental and sustainability initiatives begins here, as ICIS issues its annual Call for Entries to the ICIS Innovation Awards 2012. Once again, the Awards are sponsored overall by US-based silicon and silicones specialist Dow Corning, which has partnered with ICIS since the launch of the awards nine years ago.

This year we are maintaining our usual five categories in the Awards, and welcome back international management consultancy CRA and distributor U.S. Chemicals as category sponsors for Best Product Innovation and Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit, respectively. There is one change this year, and ICIS is delighted to welcome Bayer MaterialScience to the list of sponsors and the panel of judges. The German major, one of the world's largest polymer producers, focuses on the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life, and has elected to support the category for Best Innovation for Sustainability.

Dr. Neil Checker

Vice president and head of the Europe & Middle East region for chemicals at CRA, where he specializes in strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions. He has worked internationally in the chemicals industry for over 25 years.

Dr. Steve Fletcher

Director of delivery programmes at Chemistry Innovation, one of the UK's Knowledge Transfer Networks. He is a chemist with more than 25 years' experience in industry in management and research roles.

Peter Vanacker

Member of the executive committee of Bayer MaterialScience and head of its Global Industrial Marketing and Innovation function. He is also regional caretaker for the NAFTA and Latin American regions.

Dr. Gregg Zank

Senior vice president and chief technology officer at Dow Corning. He leads the company's innovation efforts, which include a unified approach to advancing and managing innovation for maximum future growth based on global megatrends.

Prof. James Clark

Professor of chemistry and director of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York in the UK. He is also director of the new BioRenewable Development Centre and president of the Green Chemistry Network.

As executive committee member Peter Vanacker says: "Sustainability at Bayer MaterialScience is at the heart of our strategic development - it's an intrinsic component covering every facet of our business. Through our sourcing, innovation, manufacturing and marketing activities, our aim is to achieve a positive impact for our entire business along the total lifecycle of our products."

As usual, ICIS has recruited a five-strong panel of innovation experts (see below) to judge the awards. They have the difficult task of selecting a winner in each category and an overall winner, to be presented with the annual award by Dow Corning.

Given the predominance in last year's competition, among both entries and winners, of bio-based products and technologies, we have made sure we have the necessary expertise amongst the judges.

Innovation continues to be a driving force in the chemical sector, to ensure growth, expansion and sustainability. Many companies are aligning their innovation efforts with customer and society needs and the mega-trends that are driving the chemical industry agenda, such as energy efficiency, transport, urbanization, global warming and security of supply of food and water. Companies, too, are increasingly building environmental and lifecycle aspects into the decision-making processes around innovation and which projects are viable and which not. It is this sophisticated innovation effort and its fruits that the ICIS Innovation Awards are designed to promote and reward.


 Last year's winners celebrate their success at the awards presentation


To recognize the breadth of innovation in the chemical sector, the ICIS Innovation Awards offer five categories. Companies may enter as many innovations as they wish, but can enter each innovation into one category only. The categories, and previous two years' winners are:


The Best Product Innovation category gives entrants a chance to show how innovative they are in the traditional but still vital areas of product and process innovation.

Previous winners:

  • 2011 Teijin Group - Mass-production technology for carbon-fiber-reinforced composites.
  • 2010 Tata Chemicals - Tata Swach nano-tech water purifier.


The Best Innovation by a SME category gives SMEs, those great sources and reservoirs of innovation, a chance to shine.

Previous winners:

  • 2011 LanzaTech - Highly efficient route to carbon capture and re-use.
  • 2010 NiTech Solutions - Use of innovative NiTech reactor by Genzyme to manufacture one of its leading products.


The Best Business Innovation category highlights wider innovation in the way in which chemical companies do business.

This may be with new service offerings to customers or partnerships with suppliers and downstream collaborators, new approaches to the route to take the product to the market or even novel supply chain or business-process operations.

Previous winners:

  • 2011 BioAmber - Innovation in succinic acid.
  • 2010 Huntsman Advanced Materials - New generation of rapid manufacturing equipment and resins.


The Best Innovation for Sustainability category is intended to recognize companies that have been innovative in their approach to embracing sustainability practices in product development and production, to ensure long-term business continuity and environmental quality.

Previous winners:

This category was introduced last year and has no previous winners.


The category for Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit is designed to highlight the way chemical innovation can reduce environmental impacts.

This might be by improving the manufacturing process of existing products, by developing environmental friendly alternatives to existing products, or by tackling issues of global warming, pollution and health.

Previous winners:

  • 2011 Novomer - carbon dioxide-based polyols for high-performance coatings, adhesives, foams and composites.
  • 2010 Teijin Fibers - ECO CIRCLE innovative closed-loop recycling system for polyester.

With such a wide range of innovations to be recognized, all I can do is urge you to enter this year. It's the only way you can get your company name on the roll of honor, and garner the publicity and accolades that ICIS can generate.

As you can see, past winners have included the largest multinationals and the smallest of SMEs. But in all cases it has been the quality of the innovation that has counted in the end.


Dow Corning logoOverall Sponsor: DOW Corning
Inventing the future through innovation

At DOW Corning, "We help you invent the future." In fact, we have been doing so for nearly 70 years. And while I'm very proud of the work we've done to enhance the lives of people throughout the globe through our innovative products, I'm inspired by the formidable challenges ahead of us.

Gregg ZankAnd while these challenges are significant, there is excitement in this quest and growing optimism grounded in our industry's history of finding solutions through its unbridled focus on innovation.

Our journey toward the future will be guided by chemists, scientists and engineers charging forward with new approaches to innovation and the development of new products that enrich people's lives and benefit the environment, all while enabling our businesses and employees to thrive. As it has for decades, chemistry will continue to be a primary driver for growth and sustainable development.

Dow Corning sponsors the ICIS Innovation Awards because we understand chemistry's role in inventing the future. These awards offer a front-row seat to the future, and more than ever, the world needs the game-changing innovation that only the chemical industry can deliver.

Dr. Gregg Zank, senior vice president, chief technology officer, Dow Corning

Category Sponsor: Bayer MaterialScience
Science for a better life

Bayer materialScienceSustainability at Bayer MaterialScience is at the heart of our strategic development - it's an intrinsic component covering every facet of our business. Through our sourcing, innovation, manufacturing and marketing activities, our aim is to achieve a positive impact for our entire business along the total lifecycle of our products.

This includes significantly reducing our carbon footprint by up to 40% within our production sites by 2020. To achieve this, we need to minimize resources, emissions, pollution and waste produced not only on our sites, but those of our customers and suppliers too.

We want to be perceived as an industry leader which always responsibly respects the needs of the environment and the eco-system and is willing to share knowledge and best practice with other companies in our markets.

Sustainability at Bayer MaterialScience is also about improving safety and working conditions and creating solutions which ultimately improve life in developing countries.

We are happy to be the sponsor of the Best Innovation for Sustainability category and for me personally, the quality of entries will ensure healthy competition, a boost for the industry and hopefully, a brighter future for us all.

Peter Vanacker, Head of global industrial marketing and innovation

Category Sponsor: U.S Chemicals
Green movement comes to the fore

U.S Chemicals LLCThe ICIS Innovation Awards have become a springtime tradition, and U.S. Chemicals is again pleased to participate. As in the past, we are excited to sponsor the Innovation with the Best Environmental Benefit category and look forward to learning about the creative solutions our colleagues have developed to address green initiatives.

The green movement is a mega-shift in American manufacturing and ICIS can be proud to be on the forefront of this essential business philosophy and in giving due recognition to those chemical companies working to improve the environment. U.S. Chemicals is always proud to be included in this important program.

In the spirit of spring and green initiatives, U.S. Chemicals is partnering with Trees For a Change. Our goal is to plant 1,000 trees in 2012. Trees For a Change and U.S. Chemicals have found common ground and we hope you visit U.S. Chemicals for further details.

This initiative is one component in a general strategy we are dedicated to that will hopefully leave this planet a little healthier. In small habits and larger actions, we are always working towards improving the environment and partnering with ICIS is a very important piece of this strategy.

Carol Piccaro, president and CEO, U.S. Chemicals

Category Sponsor: CRA
Innovation supports adjacent growth

CRA AssociatesThe ICIS Innovation Awards recognize companies that have made significant advances in technical and business innovation and have also shown tangible results. The judging panel looks for innovative projects that solve problems and provide solutions for companies, their customers, and society at large, as well as the environment.

CRA maintains a keen interest in innovation in the field. Recently, our client-engagement experience has focused primarily on helping leading companies identify strategic growth opportunities in so-called "adjacent" markets to their core business as well as how best to leverage existing know-how and technology capabilities, including identifying technology gaps and potential partners or acquisitions to fill these gaps. Therefore, this year, CRA is pleased to acknowledge innovators who are making these significant advances in the chemical industry. The Best Product Innovation category focuses on innovators supporting adjacent growth to their core business as well as including a long-term focus on more sustainable products, particularly in bio, recycling, and new feedstocks, which are critical to chemical industry innovation.

Dr. Neil Checker, vice president, CRA

How to enter

If you have any questions, contact John Baker or +44 20 8652 3153. Confirmation of receipt of your entry will be sent to you by email

  • Closing date for entries: July 2
  • A shortlist will be published on August 13 and the winners revealed on October 22.


By: John Baker
+44 20 8652 3214

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