Chemistry & Life Sciences

Trend Barometer of Specialty Chemicals Industry

Hot Topics at Chemspec Europe 2019: Custom Synthesis, Nanotechnology and Start-ups

16.07.2019 -

The 34th and, so far, biggest edition of Chemspec Europe attracted a total of 4,295 trade visitors from 53 countries to the exhibition grounds of Messe Basel, Switzerland. During the trade fair, a total of 379 exhibitors from 27 countries presented their innovative substances on a record net exhibition space of 6,369 m2. Compared to the previous event this represents an increase in net exhibition space of 4% and an increase in exhibitor numbers of nearly 6%.

With topics such as custom synthesis, nanotechnology and the booming start-up scene, the International Exhibition for Fine and Specialty Chemicals, once again, showcased the full potential of the fine and specialty chemicals industry.

The CHEManager team was right in the middle of it all, not just there: they were on the road in the exhibition hall on both days of the fair to see and hear the exhibitors' latest news. On the eve of Chemspec Europe, we hosted the meanwhile traditional CHEManager Dinner at the EastWest Hotel on the Rhine promenade - and more than 30 guests accepted the invitation to eat and network, and despite the hot temperatures they spent a relaxed evening with stimulating conversations and cool drinks.

Participant Profiles

Liljana Goszdziewski, Exhibition Director of Chemspec Europe sums up the event on behalf of the organizer Mack Brooks Exhibitions: “For international trade visitors, Chemspec Europe has become a key event to stay up-to-date with current trends and the latest findings in R&D, form strategic partnerships, and meet with top decision-makers as well as innovative start-ups.”

The provisional results of the exhibition survey show that most visitors came from the following industries: fine chemical industry, agriculture, plastics, pharma, cosmetics, toiletries and personal care, petrochemicals, water treatment, paints & coatings, polymers, food & feed ingredients as well as adhesives & sealants.

The majority of visitors were manufacturers, distributors, raw material suppliers or equipment suppliers and work in research and development or for consulting firms. Visitors were particularly interested in the following products and services: custom synthesis, chemical intermediates, catalysts, pharmaceuticals, general chemicals, agrochemicals, household chemicals and industrial chemicals.

Extensive Conference Program

A highlight of this year’s show was the “Innovative Startups” conference, organized in cooperation with BCNP Consultants. In line with the extensive conference program, more than 15 start-ups presented their innovative ideas, substances and approaches in the fine and specialty chemicals industry. These conference sessions were well received, and visitors gained valuable input.

Visitors of this year’s show had the opportunity to attend a total of 74 conferences and workshops covering several topics. In cooperation with renowned partner organizations, the conferences did not only offer insights into trends and prospects, but also encouraged exchange and networking with international industry colleagues. The conference program included the “Agrochemical Outlook Conference”, as well as the mentioned “Innovative Startups” conference.

Pharma Lecture Theatre

In the Pharma Lecture Theatre, several speakers gave lectures on trends, challenges and outlook of the pharmaceutical industry, including a presentation given by pharma industry veteran Magid Abou-Gharbia, Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research, and the “Pharma Outsourcing Best Practices Panel”.

The lecture given by Magid Abou-Gharbia was about the challenges of the pharmaceutical industry, about patents being the “life blood” of the companies, as it is the most secure way to ensure a return on the investments made. The conference focused also on the differences between generic and brand names medications. In the US, as of 2017, 9 out of 10 drugs are generic (89% generic and 11% brand name), even though they only account for the 26% of the drug income.

Furthermore, the conference program included the two-day “RSC Symposium” of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the “Regulatory Services Conference”, organized by REACHReady, as well as the “Crop Protection & Fine Chemicals Forum” held by EFCG (European Fine Chemicals Group).

RSC Symposium

Florian Bächle, Leading Scientist & Product Manager Ligands at Solvias, talked about chemocatalysis as a “major tool towards sustainable (green) chemistry.” The principles of the latter are quite straightforward: selectivity, quantitative yields, atom economy and low E-factor, and a very convenient way to implement these concepts is to consider catalytic transformations in the synthetic route. This has already been successfully applied to asymmetric hydrogenation of ligands.

Rafael Kuwertz, Project Manager Process Development at Ehrfeld Mikrotechnik, held a talk on “Micro Reaction Technology with Macro Process Effiencies.” During the past 20 years, micro reaction technology raised from a pure academic field of research to a technology which can be used in the industrial area of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Important benefits like the higher heat exchange and the better mixing, leading to higher yields, are based on a higher surface-to-volume ratio in comparison to traditional batch technology.

Best Practices in Pharma Outsourcing

During the “Pharma Outsourcing Best Practices Panel”, approaches to developing global outsourcing strategies, identifying outsourcing partners, and addressing challenges associated with outsourcing and how to effectively manage partnerships were discussed. The panel was organized by Magid Abou-Gharbia (Associate Dean for Research Director at Temple University, Philadelphia) and Ben Jones (President at Century Global) and co-moderated by Rudolf Hanko (Board Member and former CEO of Siegfried). The panelists were Susan Billings (Vice President and Global Head of Business Development at AMRI), Harry Rathore (President and CEO at Callery), Marianne Spaene (Executive VP Global Business Development at Siegfried), Tom Sturgeon (Assistant Director Business Development at Johnson Matthey), Aldo Cartagena (Senior Procurement Specialist at Merck) and Robert Waltermire (Vice President, Head Chemical and Synthetic Development, Global Product Development and Supply at Bristol Myers Squibb).

The panel was revised to include the audience even more. They had the opportunity to cast their vote on the topics discussed. One of them was whether the Pharmaceutical Industry will offer fewer growth opportunities than the Agrochemical Sector in the next years. Most experts on the panel and in the audience disagreed. When asked if combining agro and pharma businesses would give a company a competitive edge, again most of the participants present did not agree with this statement.

NanoTECH Pavilion

For the first time, Chemspec Europe featured a new NanoTECH Pavilion, which exclusively highlighted companies and organizations from the nanotechnology industry. The dedicated on-site area offered visitors of Chemspec Europe 2019 an attractive opportunity to explore the latest nanotechnological innovations and discuss bespoke solutions with industry experts.

Doing Business in China

A more general but nevertheless very interesting lecture was given by Tina Li, Intercultural Lecturer & Trainer, about doing business in China. She first talked about the differences between the East, which is a collective society, and the West, a very individualistic society by giving some examples. In China, being “in” or “out” of a group makes a really big difference, and trust is needed to build any kind of relationship, even a business one. The conference also focused on the fundamental importance of “Guanxi”, a Chinese system of beliefs used in social networks and when doing business, and the need to develop non-conventional skills for carrying out business oversea.

Industry News

During the trade fair, Jennifer Abril, president of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA), gave CHEManager an update on the US chemical industry and unveiled the new SOCMA brand, which has the intention of focusing on its members and provide solutions for a dynamic specialty industry.