Monday, 30 November 2015

Sixth EuCheMS Congress in Seville

The countdown has started for the Sixth EuCheMS Congress that will take place in Seville, Spain from 11 - 15 September, 2016. The Congress is a valuable and unique opportunity for the community of world-leading chemistry professionals to meet, exchange ideas, explore progress in the state of the art and debate the key issues underlying chemical science and practice. It is also where the European chemical community congregates and EuCheMS Divisions and sections showcase their research developments and plan future activities.

The scientific programme for the EuCheMS congress will includes eight plenary lectures from world-leading scientists, including a handful of Nobel Laureates, plus around 120 keynote and invited lecturers, over 200 oral and poster sessions totalling over 2 000 peer to peer communications.

Plenary Speakers confirmed
Amongst the many outstanding speakers that have already confirmed their attendance are six Nobel Laureates. The participating speakers in Seville include Ada Yonah, Richard Schrock, Aaron Ciechanover, Harold Kroto and Jean-Marie Lehn.

Avelino Corma, Spain’s most awarded chemist and the recipient of the 2014 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, Spain’s most prestigious science prize, has also confirmed his attendance.

The Scientific programme is structured in horizontal major themes that include significant contributions to research at the forefront of chemical sciences in all areas related to chemistry; analytical, engineering, inorganic, physical, theoretical, biological, materials and technology.

The main themes of EuCheMS 2016 are outlined below.

Topic Conveners have been recently appointed for all themes. Every subject topic is assigned to a European convener who is specialised in the area. You can review their background and experience here.

Abstracts, registration open
The Call for abstracts process is already now open. Guidelines, information for authors, submissions and important dates as well as the online submission form are available on the congress website. The online abstract submission deadline is April 1st, 2016.

Registration is now open for Sixth EuCheMS Congress. Early bird discounts are available if you register now – and you can be connected to all the news and updates with the Congress newsletter, see all services available and view the various registration possibilities.

The venue
EuCheMS 2016 congress take place in FIBES 2 a new state-of-the-art building exhibition and conference facility. The Congress Palace has 7 200 m2 of open space, as well as a luminous, spacious central building (The Dome), which houses the Conference Centre and is the main access to the exhibition pavilions and other facilities.

The new complex includes more than 50 meeting rooms, auditoria (with capacities ranging from 3 200 to 340 people), indoor and outdoor exhibition areas, as well as catering areas, press, TV, and testing room , VIP rooms and dressing rooms, and other spaces.

For more information visit the EuCheMS congress website.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Innovation Summit to feature Advanced Materials, Innovation Pact and Youth

From 7 to 10 December the Seventh European Innovation Summit (7EIS) will set the stage for the future of innovation in Europe and SusChem will be there to highlight its contribution to sustainable innovation. 7EIS is organised by Knowledge4Innovation (K4I) and will take place in the European Parliament in Brussels. Cefic and SusChem are organising a special breakfast session on Advanced Materials for Energy on the morning of 8 December.

The four day 7EIS event will call for a ‘Pact for Innovation’ with the objective of developing an ambitious vision of what innovation can do for the EU economy and society. The future-oriented bottom-up approach of the Pact will unite a group of local, regional, national and EU innovation stakeholders.

The 7EIS programme focuses on key-challenges and opportunities in the field of innovation. The summit will host numerous sessions and events on Europe’s grand challenges in the innovation sector ranging from energy to industry, environment and agriculture, the bio-economy, health, transport, safety and security, quantum computing, and the role of regions and cities. It will provide a platform for leaders in various sectors to discuss the policies and instruments required to promote innovation throughout the economy.

Materials for the energy transition
The Cefic-SusChem session will address global trends including population growth, climate change, urbanisation and the rising demand for energy that present major challenges for society. Advanced materials have a strategic importance to support economic and sustainable growth, strengthen competitiveness and enable the transition to a low-carbon economy that meets these challenges.

The chemical industry, as a provider of innovative advanced materials, is in a unique position to supply the sustainable solutions that society needs to make this energy transition and to address the critical energy challenge we face. The chemical industry brings a vital contribution across the entire energy value chain including:

  • Materials –including lightweight materials - for improved energy efficiency in areas from transportation to construction and industry
  • Materials and key enabling technologies for advanced energy storage including new battery technologies
  • Materials that enable new low-carbon energy production such as solar cells, wind turbines and other renewable energy sources
  • Materials and technologies (Power to Gas, Power to Liquid) that can capture and use CO2 for alternative sustainable fuels and chemical energy storage, and
  • The ultimate goal of direct conversion of atmospheric CO2 to fuels and materials

Join the session on the morning of 8 December from 08:00 to discuss these exciting opportunities and challenges for innovation and find out about new developments from the chemical industry that can enable Europe to make the transition to a competitive, sustainable low-carbon economy.

The session will be hosted by Jerzy Buzek, MEP, Vice Chair of the K4I Forum Governing Board and speakers will include K4I President Gernot Klotz as the session moderator, Rudolph Strohmeier from DG Research and Innovation in the European Commission, Peter Nagler, Head of International Innovation at Evonik and SusChem board member, Christian Collette, VP Research & Development at Arkema, Martin Winter, Senior Manager Corporate New Business Development at Clariant, and Pierre Barthélemy, Cefic’s Executive Director R&I and also a SusChem board member. More details of the session can be found here.

Cefic and SusChem will also be present in the 7EIS exhibition area at the Parliament including an innovative interactive game offering the chance to win valuable prizes – more details soon!

Socio-economic impact of EU JUs
Another session of interest to SusChem stakeholders on 8 December involves the Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU). A debate stating at 17:00 will look at the new Joint Undertakings (JUs) that have been set up to drive innovation in key industrial sectors including aviation, health, fuel cells and hydrogen, and bio-based products and materials.

The session will investigate the broader socio-economic impacts of the JUs. Early analyses reveal that the JUs are starting to make a real difference in this area, for example by enabling growth and job creation, and by delivering results that are already having an impact on some of the biggest challenges facing European society.

High-level representatives of the European Commission and the JUs, including Philippe Mengal, Executive Director of the BBI JU and Bert de Colvenaer, Executive Director of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen JU, will present facts and figures on their socio-economic impact so far, and offer an insight into their expected impact in the years to come.

Youth focus
A special focus of the 7EIS summit will be on youth involvement. In order to spark a debate that provides constructive, sustainable and concrete contributions to future EU-policy making, young innovators from all over Europe will actively engage with policy-makers and innovation leaders. In addition, the summit will provide young innovators with a unique platform to enhance cross-border networking.

To register and be part of 7EIS complete your registration by 27 November. For more details visit the Knowledge for Innovation website or contact the K4I secretariat.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

2015 LRI Innovative Science Award Winner Announced

French researcher Dr. Alice Limonciel was awarded the €100,000 LRI Innovative Science award, one of Europe’s largest research grants for early career scientists, at an award ceremony at Cefic’s 17th Annual Long-Range Initiative (LRI) Workshop in Brussels on November 18, 2015.

Dr.  Limonciel’s winning research proposal is entitled "Establishment of thresholds of activation of stress
responses pathways and ligand-activated receptors for chemical classification” and will investigate cellular responses to the acceleration of chronic kidney disease progression due to chemical exposure. The project aims to identify the genes involved in cellular stress response pathways, quantify these responses in parallel with markers of cellular dysfunction and deliver a new generation of quantitative tools based on gene expression to evaluate the hazard linked to chemical exposure for use in risk assessment strategies.

Dr. Pierre Barthélemy, Cefic Executive Director of Research and Innovation commented: “It’s always a pleasure to see the enthusiasm of early career scientists and their desire to make our world safer. The LRI Innovative Science is a great opportunity for them to develop their breakthrough ideas with complete freedom, find new approaches to tackle risk assessment and help reduce uncertainty as it relates to chemicals safety”.

Dr. Limonciel (pictured above, right, receiving the award from Yves Verschueren Managing Director of Essenscia)  studied pharmacology and toxicology at the engineering school Polytech’ Nice-Sophia in France. She completed her doctoral studies in the department of Physiology and Medical Physics at the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria in 2013.  Dr. Limonciel is currently working at Innsbruck as a Postdoctoral researcher on molecular mechanisms of nephrotoxicity notably using the integration of multiple omic datasets such as transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and epigenomics.

A video from the LRI Award ceremony 2015 is embedded below. 

The award ceremony and dinner were the highlights of the first day of the 2015 Annual CEFIC-LRI Workshop. The second day of the workshop will focus on non–animal-based safety assessment and will showcase the outcome and impact of several LRI projects completed in 2014-2015 from the fields of environmental risk assessment, bioconcentration, chemo-informatics, exposure modelling, skin sensitization and acceptance of innovation.

About the Award
The LRI Innovative Science Award worth €100 000 was first introduced in 2004 as a funding opportunity for young scientists based in Europe. Its aim is to stimulate innovative research, to foster ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and to introduce new approaches that will advance the environmental assessment of hazardous substances. More than a decade later, it is still the biggest award of its kind in Europe and has helped numerous scientists realise their ambitions and become part of the LRI scientific network.

The Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) is part of Cefic's voluntary initiatives to improve the Regulatory Framework of the chemical industry in Europe. Its mission is to identify and fill gaps in our understanding of the hazards posed by chemicals and to improve the methods available for assessing the associated risks.

For more information on the LRI activities and the award, please contact Programme Manager Bruno Hubesch.

Chemistry for the Future – Solvay Prize 2015

Solvay has announced the winner of its 2015 Chemistry of the Future prize: Professor Ben L Feringa from the University of Groningen. Professor Feringa received the award from Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium during a ceremony on 18 November, 2015 at Le Palais des Académies in central Brussels. Professor Feringa was awarded this prestigious prize principally for his work on supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnology. Read the Solvay press release here.

Ben Feringa (left) has been professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen since 1988. He is widely recognised as one of the world’s most creative and productive chemists. He has achieved breakthroughs in various fields of chemistry, including organic synthesis, catalysis, supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnology.

In particular his discovery in 1999 of the ‘molecular motor’, a light-driven rotating molecule, is widely recognized as a world-class breakthrough. The potential applications of this concept are as numerous as they are spectacular. The idea that molecular motors can transport themselves through the bloodstream in order to deliver drugs to previously unreachable locations in the human body with a high degree of accuracy is particularly inspiring.

Great honour
“I am greatly honoured by the prestigious Solvay Prize which is also a superb recognition for my team of talented students whom I have had the privilege to guide beyond the frontiers of the chemical sciences. Inspired and intrigued by the machinery of life we went on a quest to control motion at the nanoscale. Our ability to govern dynamic functions, as we demonstrated with our molecular motor, is essential for the development of responsive molecular systems that will form the basis for a whole range of smart products in the future,“ said Professor Feringa, who is also Vice-Chairman of the Royal Academy of Sciences of the Netherlands.” I am convinced that the creative power of synthetic chemistry will bring unimaginable solutions to the sustainable society of the future and to the well-being of mankind.”

“The Solvay Prize rewards decisive breakthroughs in scientific research achieved today and destined to shape the chemistry of the future. The research by Professor Ben Feringa allows us to anticipate a variety of scientific developments, chiefly in healthcare, and underlines chemistry’s essential role, as a science and as an industry, in delivering solutions for society and help human progress,” commented Solvay CEO Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, who chaired the Solvay Prize ceremony.

In the video below Professor Feringa describes some aspects of his work on chemical nanorobots. (Video in Dutch with English subtitles).

Awards galore!
Professor Feringa has been awarded numerous prizes, including the 2004 Spinoza Prize, the highest Dutch prize in science, awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). In 2008 the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) appointed Feringa as Academy Professor, giving him the opportunity to focus exclusively on his chosen fields of innovative teaching and research for five years. In 2011 he received the Van’t Hoff medal that is awarded every ten years by the University of Amsterdam for work in the field of chemistry. In May 2013 he was awarded a TOP grant of EUR 780 000 by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to continue his research on molecular motors.

In July 2013 Professor Feringa was awarded the Lilly European Distinguished Science Award, followed in September by the Marie Curie Medal, the highest honour awarded annually by the Polish Chemical Society for a chemical scientist working outside Poland. In November 2013 he was awarded two important Japanese prizes and this was followed in September 2014 by the prestigious Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society.

Solvay prize
The Solvay Chemistry of the Future prize is intended to endorse basic research and underline the essential role of chemistry, both as a science and an industry, in helping solve some of the most pressing issues the world is facing today. The Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize rewards a major scientific discovery that could shape tomorrow’s chemistry and help human progress and celebrates the strong support for scientific research given by the founder of the Solvay Group, Ernest Solvay.

The €300,000 prize is awarded every two years. In 2013, the inaugural Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize was presented to Professor Peter G. Schultz from the Scripps Research Institute in California, and director of the California Institute for Biomedical Research. He received the award for his multiple scientific contributions at the interface between chemistry and biology. In particular the exploitation of molecular diversity and the rational expansion of the genetic code of living organisms. His ground-breaking work has made an impact in many scientific fields, including biotechnology and medicine. It also has important implications for regenerative medicine, and the treatment of infectious disease, autoimmune disease and cancer.

Selection process
The selection process for the 2015 prize was two-stage process. First, independent nominators propose candidates whose achievements in the field of chemistry, including biochemistry, material sciences, soft matter, biophysics and chemical engineering, will shape the chemistry of the future. Then an international jury selects the winner from this list of candidates.

The jury for 2015 was led by Håkan Wennerström, Professor of theoretical and physical chemistry at the University of Lund, Sweden. He is a former chairman of the jury for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was joined by the first winner Professor Peter Schultz, Paul Chaikin of New York University, Professor Christopher Dobson from the University of Cambridge, Professor Gerhard Ertl from the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-PlanckGesellschaft in Berlin, Professor Jean-Marie Lehn of l’Université de Strasbourg, Patrick Maestro, member of the Académie des Technologies in France and Scientific Director of Solvay, and Paul Baekelmans, Science Adviser to the Solvay Group and Professor emeritus at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Find out more about the prize and its winners on the Solvay website.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Sustainable Chemistry for a Sustainable World

From 30 November to 11 December 2015, world leaders will meet in Paris at the Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Their objective will be to seek agreement on a global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilise global political will to address the global climate challenge. This is a challenge that requires the contribution of a sustainable chemistry sector.

In early November leaders of Cefic, the European chemical industry association, published a signed letter in the Financial Times expressing firm support for government’s efforts to secure a strong, globally binding climate change agreement at COP21 in Paris. The full text of the letter to The Financial Times is reproduced below.

The letter clearly stated that the chemical industry does and will continue to support efforts by European governments and institutions to achieve a competitive, low carbon economy. However the leaders stressed the importance of the word “competitive” in that sentence: only a competitive, sustainable European chemical industry can contribute to the achievement of a low carbon economy through its essential innovations.

SusChem and a sustainable chemical industry
“The chemical industry is key in addressing the climate change challenge.  It is a critical supplier of novel materials and advanced technologies to many value chains and therefore a crucial partner in achieving a competitive, low-carbon economy,” comments Pierre Barthélemy Cefic’s Executive Director, Research and Innovation.

Sustainability is an overriding priority for the chemical industry and the industry can do much to change societal production and consumption patterns. In particular the sector can promote resource efficient products and is a key enabler for the advanced innovative products and services that can deliver sustainable solutions throughout the economy. Together with supply chain partners, the chemical industry takes a holistic approach to sustainability. With a skilled workforce, a sustainable chemical sector can develop and produce innovative products, services and solutions for a growing global population, while striving to conserve our planet’s resources and respecting the environment.

And SusChem-inspired initiatives and actions are a key part of this.

“Addressing the climate change challenge depends strongly on technological innovation to reduce the energy and feedstock footprint of our society," says Pierre Barthélemy. "SusChem proposes numerous solutions based on enabling technologies that can foster a more sustainable economy and ensure a positive impact on our society and the environment, including the transition to a more circular economy.”

Cefic statement
Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO Solvay and Cefic President elaborates more on the importance of sustainability and the chemical industry in the video below.

You can find out much more about the European Chemical Industry’s approach and view on COP-21, including more video interviews with chemical industry leaders, here.

An open letter to the European Council, European Commission and European Parliament
The European chemical industry backs strong global climate change agreement at COP21
"We, leaders of the European chemical industry, applaud the diplomatic efforts to achieve an ambitious and globally-binding agreement in the Paris climate negotiations next month. Climate action is needed worldwide, to truly protect future generations from this global problem.
Today, the chemical industry is a pillar of the European economy: a €551 billion industry in 2014 with a significant trade surplus of €43.5 billion, providing over 1 million direct jobs and nearly 2.5 million indirect jobs in Europe.
We believe the chemical industry is also a pillar of tomorrow’s low carbon economy.
We represent a creative industry, whose greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 54% on 1990 levels while production grew by 70%. So, we want to set the record straight that Cefic does, and will continue to, support efforts by European governments and institutions to achieve a competitive, low-carbon economy.
Chemistry is often all but invisible yet essential to consumers’ everyday lives: from health and hygiene to transport, construction and computing. Chemical innovation enables current and future climate change solutions, including renewable energy, energy storage and thousands of products to improve energy efficiency, such as in vehicles and buildings. In future years, chemical companies around the world will develop many more of these innovative and important solutions.
For now, Europe’s chemical industry is facing the reality of ever fiercer global competition. It must remain competitive in order to continue being innovative.
Climate change policy leadership in Europe should not come at the expense of ‘investment leakage’ – the effect of regional imbalances in climate regulations and associated cost differences that lead to the relocation of carbon emissions but not to an overall global reduction. For this reason we would warmly welcome a successful outcome in next month’s climate negotiations. Meanwhile Europe’s policymakers also need to make certain that measures are in place ensuring energy-intensive industries are not exposed to investment leakage in any scenario. European deindustrialisation is not and should never be seen as a viable option on the journey to decarbonisation.
We wish success to all involved in the negotiations in Paris next month."

Monday, 9 November 2015

Sustainable chemistry solving the innovation puzzle

Innovation – a simple concept and an essential one for the chemical industry is the message of a recent special report in ICIS Chemical Business that featured SusChem and the SPIRE PPP.  Both Cefic’s Executive Director, Research and Innovation Pierre Barthélemy and Loredana Ghinea, executive director of SPIRE are interviewed in the article by ICIS editor John Baker.

In his interview Pierre Barthélemy (right) emphasises the commitment of the chemical industry to innovation to increase industry’s contribution to GDP and address global societal challenges like climate change and an ageing population. “Addressing these issues is something we can do only if we innovate,” he says.

Pierre also talked about the chemical industry’s role in improving resource efficiency through developing better materials and processes and stimulating collaboration along value chains.

Pierre points out that the industry’s recognition of the need to invest more in innovation collectively was a major driver behind the SusChem initiative. In particular the platform has helped to identify and develop major public-private-partnerships (PPPs) – specifically the SPIRE PPP (see below) and the BioBased Industries Joint Undertaking.

He also highlights SusChem’s work in progressing initiatives for the use and valorisation of carbon dioxide. These innovations have the potential to provide opportunities for new chemical feedstocks and for chemical energy storage, he explains.

The two key goals for the PPP ‘Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency’ (SPIRE) are spelled out in its title and also require innovation. As well as delivering environmental benefits energy and resource intensity are two prime costs in the process industries. “There is a drive to innovate with new technologies that deal with these costs,” says Loredana Ghinea.

SPIRE aims to address three fundamental challenges in Europe:

  • The urgency to create growth and increase competitiveness in a global market
  • The need to rejuvenate the European process industry
  • The imperative to reduce resource and energy inefficiency and the environmental impact of industrial activity

SPIRE has its own strategy for research and innovation. “We are already attracting high interest and the first very promising projects have begun this year, with 18 now agreed and up and running,” says Loredana (left).

The SPIRE PPP is clearly of importance to the chemical sector with 27 chemical companies already involved. “We are bringing companies together to discuss and identify strategic innovation priorities and actions,” she states.

You can read the full article here.