APIC ’14: Asia chemical sector must boost innovation - Dow

16 May 2014 08:41 Source:ICIS News

PATTAYA, Thailand (ICIS)--In the absence of a feedstock advantage, Asia’s chemical industry must tap into its highly educated population to refocus on innovation and providing solutions to regional and world problems, the head of Dow Chemical’s Asia Pacific business said on Friday.

“Asia’s investment model based on naphtha economics is unlikely to be competitive in this new world,” said Peter Sykes, president of Asia Pacific at Dow.

The world energy and feedstock map has been redrawn with the rise of US shale gas and tight oil, he noted.

“The global energy landscape has changed. There is no going back,” he said.

Sykes addressed delegates at the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC).

Developing domestic sources of energy and feedstock can take many years, so for now, innovation will be key to success, he noted.

“The best way to offset this cost disadvantage is to deliver solutions that customers want. And we must do this better than anyone in the world,” said Sykes.

“We in Asia must use our scientific and demographic foundation to grow. We need new strategic partnerships with companies, governments and academia to gain more understanding of local markets,” he added.

In Asia, one critical problem is the lack of water availability in some areas.

Sykes cited an example of a partnership between Dow and China-based appliance maker Haier to address one water issue. The companies developed a washing machine that reduces water usage by 50%.

“This created a new growth avenue,” he said.

Dow also has partnerships in Asia to enhance water filtration and develop better food packaging to ensure security and freshness to address food safety concerns, the president added.

“If Asia Pacific wants to do more, the key is innovation. The human talent in Asia with scientists and researchers can solve the region and world’s greatest challenges,” said Sykes.

“In the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, the US is seriously short of skilled students. The top performers tend to be from Asia. Asia can develop a formidable advantage if it can keep or bring its talent home,” he added.

APIC is being held in Pattaya, Thailand, on 15-16 May.

By Joseph Chang