ICIS Innovation Awards: The race is on

24 July 2013 17:07  [Source: ICB]

The ICIS Innovation Awards celebrates its 10th anniversary this year - and once again we are looking for the very best. Will you be a winner in 2013?


 Copyright: RexFeatures

Launched in 2004 by European Chemical News as part of an editorial campaign on innovation run throughout that year, the Awards have gone from strength to strength and now attract strong support from both sponsors and entrants.

This has paralleled the growing focus on innovation in the chemical sector, with companies not only taking an increasingly sophisticated approach to how they develop new processes and products, but also to where they spend their research and development (R&D) budgets. Direction today is often informed by the mega-trends affecting society, notably global population growth, transportation, urbanisation, energy efficiency, and food and water security. The chemical industry has a huge part to play in addressing the issues these trends create, and it will do so largely through targeted innovation.

Recent winners of the Awards (see www.icis.com/awards) have developed ground-breaking solutions. Last year's overall winner, Clariant, devised a new process and associated dyes for denim production that reduced water consumption dramatically. With denim produced on a huge scale globally, the impact is potentially enormous, and the judges were generous in their praise.

This year we are delighted that Roland Berger Strategy Consultants has stepped up to take on the overall sponsorship of the Awards. Not only will the international management consultancy continue to sponsor the Best Product Innovation category, but it will present the 2013 overall winner Award.

Neil Checker, a partner at Roland Berger and a member of the judging panel, comments that: "We are honoured and delighted to have the opportunity to take on the role of overall sponsor of this prestigious award programme, following on from our support in previous years as Best Product Innovation sponsor. Together with our fellow sponsors we look forward with excitement to reviewing the submissions this year and honouring the winners."

For the other categories, we are pleased to welcome again chemical distributor U.S. Chemicals as sponsor for the Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit, and are delighted to welcome two new sponsors: Italy's Versalis, supporting the Best Innovation for Sustainability category, and US distributor Nexeo Solutions, for its backing of the Best Business Innovation category.

The fifth category open for entries is for Best Innovation by a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME), which offers smaller but highly creative companies the chance to compete effectively. Looking over recent years, this sector has consistently surprised and delighted the Awards' judges with the scope and degree of innovation on offer. Bio-based feedstocks and polymers, carbon capture technology, and novel catalysis have all featured strongly in recent years.

As usual ICIS has recruited a six-strong panel of experts to sift through the entries and chose a winner in each of the five categories, and the overall winner. This is not an easy job, given the diversity of innovation in the chemical sector, but they bring with them a wide range of expertise, from polymer and chemical innovation to bio-based materials and business innovation in general. Further details are on the Awards website, which also includes more information on all this year's sponsor companies.

To recognise the breadth of innovation in the chemical sector, and the importance of the environment and the shift to sustainability, 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 winners are outlined below.



The Best Product Innovation category gives entrants a chance to show how innovative they are in the more traditional but still vital areas of product and process development. It is this, after all, that brings in new business and/or makes existing products more attractive and competitive.

The judges will be looking for quality of science involved, the scale of challenges overcome, potential market impacts and degree of wider applicability, among other things.

Previous winners

Dow Chemical (2012): INFUSE block copolymers

Teijin Group (2011): Mass production technology for carbon-fibre-reinforced composites


This category allows SMEs - that great source and reservoir of innovation - a chance to shine with a product or process innovation. SMEs are defined as having less than 250 employees and a turnover below $75m.

Previous winners

Novomer (2012): Innovative catalyst platform for producing acrylic acid, butanediol and polypropiolactone

LanzaTech (2011): Highly efficient route to carbon capture and re-use



The Best Business Innovation category is intended to highlight wider-based innovation in how chemical companies do business, beyond traditional product and process development.

New business solutions can be as important as technological or product development. Business innovation can add value and drive the right solutions to customers, and the chemical industry.

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

Previous winners

BioAmber (2011): Innovation in bio-succinic acid

Huntsman Advanced Materials (2010): New generation of rapid manufacturing equipment and resins



This category is designed to recognise and honour companies that have incorporated the ideas of sustainability into their innovation programmes and product and process developments as well as the way they do business.

Entrants should show how sustainability criteria are built into the innovation being submitted for the Awards, and how it impacts their environmental, economic and social performance.

Previous winners

Rhodia (2012): New rare earths "urban mine"



ICIS re-introduced this category in 2010 to emphasise that the chemical industry and its innovative expertise can play an important role in addressing many of today's environmental concerns, including global warming, pollution, recycling, water supply security and nutrition.

Entries might include improved manufacturing processes or products with reduce environmental impact, or new products that tackle environmental issues.

Previous winners

Clariant International (2012): Advanced Denim technology

Novomer (2011): Carbon dioxide-based polyols for high-performance coatings, adhesives, foams and composites

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.With such a wide range of innovations to be recognised, all I can do is urge you to enter (see box on how to do this).

Entering is the only way you can get your company name on the roll of honour, and garner the publicity and accolades that ICIS can generate.

Good luck!


  • Go to http://www.icis.com/awards
  • Select your category
  • Complete the online application form
  • Upload any supporting documents
  • Click submit

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: 3 July 2013

A shortlist will be published on 12 August and the winners revealed on 21 October


Dr Neil Checker
Neil is a partner in Roland Berger's Operations Strategy and Pharma & Chemicals Competence Center. He has over 28 years of industry and consulting experience, working with financial clients and leading energy and chemical sector companies.

Dr Just Jansz
Just is founder and managing director of Expertise Beyond Borders, an independent technology management consultancy. He has more than 30 years of industry experience and is a former president of the technology business at Basell and LyondellBasell.

Dr Klaas Kruithof
Klaas is director of research, development and innovation in AkzoNobel's Performance Coatings business area. He serves as a member of the Performance Coatings management team as well as the company's research, development and innovation leadership team.

Eric Witt
Eric is senior vice president of global strategy & business development at Nexeo Solutions. He joined Nexeo in 2012 but has worked with Nexeo since early 2011 as a member of the field operations team at owner TPG. He was previously with Bain & Company.

Dr Jacques Komornicki
Jacques is innovation manager at Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council, and represents the SusChem European Technology Platform for the chemical industry. He has a PhD in chemistry and has worked in R&D for 30 years at Arkema and its predecessors.

Gianni Girotti
Gianni manages all R&D activities and business development in the new green chemistry division of Versalis. He also manages its Novara-based green chemistry R&D centre. Gianni also has experience in catalyst technology licensing at EniChem, which was the forerunner of Versalis.

Overall sponsor:
Roland Berger Strategy Consultants

European roots make the difference
Founded in Munich, Germany, in 1967, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants is one of the world's leading strategy consultancies. Its European background makes the difference, giving it a deep understanding of diverse cultures and markets. It combines European roots with pragmatism and entrepreneurial spirit and its results turn visions into reality. This is how it creates real value for its clients.

It believes that "outstanding management consultants are more than just brilliant analysts and strategists. Above all, they are strong and creative personalities from a variety of backgrounds."

Everyone at Roland Berger is committed to three core values: excellence, entrepreneurship and partnership. "These values shape everything we think and do. As a result, we create lasting, measurable value."

For more information: www.rolandberger.com

Category sponsor:

Green strategies direct industry leader
Versalis, part of Eni, inter-faces with markets through globally oriented strategies and a market-driven product portfolio. It leads the industry in manufacturing intermediates, polyethylene (PE), styrenics and elastomers, a business that positions the company as a worldwide leader and reinforces its optimisation process.

Versalis boasts a wide range of proprietary technologies, a wide-reaching distribution network and after-sales assistance. The company is strongly focused on the growing green chemicals sector through Matrica, a joint venture with Novamont, to build a bio-run complex in Sardinia. Versalis has also partnered with Genomatica to produce bio-butadiene, with Yulex for guayule-based natural rubber and with Pirelli for a joint research project on the use of guayule-based natural rubber in tyre production.

For additional information: http://www.eni.com/brand_eni/en/marchio/versalis/case_history.shtml

Category sponsor:
U.S. Chemicals

Expertise takes decades to acquire
Serving the needs of the chemical industry for over 50 years, U.S. Chemicals LLC combines quality, innovation and service like none other. U.S. Chemicals has built a team of industry experts that thoroughly understands the complexities of the chemical industry and includes experts at material sourcing and acquisition.

U.S. Chemicals serves as a single source for the chemical acquisition needs of many industry sectors, including paint, ink and coatings; chemicals and textiles; cosmetic and personal care products; flame retardants; food and pharmaceutical; plastic; and rubber. It offers prompt delivery from multiple warehouse locations throughout the US.

Its world-wide network of resources assures customers of highly competitive pricing, optimum quality and consistency, and rapid worry-free sourcing and delivery.

For additional information: www.uschemicals.com

Category sponsor:
Nexeo Solutions

Global know-how will open key markets
Nexeo Solutions employs more than 2,300 people and has operations across North America, Europe and Asia.

Today, producers and customers for chemicals, plastics, composites and environmental services need a distribution partner with the expertise to add value and the global infrastructure to help connect them to opportunities worldwide.

Nexeo Solutions' goal is to meet that need. It aspires to establish itself as the exclusive and preferred partner of choice for customers and suppliers in its key markets. It measures success by its ability to fulfil customers' orders with the highest degree of reliability and efficiency. And it does so with a relentless focus on safety and compliance.

By setting these ambitious goals, Nexeo is working to be a company that creates value for its business partners and provides a rewarding place of employment for its team members.

For additional information: www.nexeosolutions.com

By: John Baker
+44 20 8652 3214

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