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2017 ICIS Innovation Awards – Meet the Winners

Posted on November 11th, 2017 by in Chemical R&D


Now in its 14th year, the International Chemical Information Service (ICIS) Innovation Awards seek to recognize companies and individuals that show high levels of innovation in products and processes, as well as those that are leading sustainability progress. The judges of the Innovation Awards have spoken, and the overall winners for 2017 awards have been announced.

Congratulations go to this year’s overall winner, AkzoNobel, which also won the Best Product Innovation award, for its Interline 9001 advanced coating system for ship cargo tanks. The novel formulation and curing innovation at the core of Interline 9001 enabled AkzoNobel to take a greater than half share of total global chemical tanker new-build volume last year. No stranger to the ICIS Innovation Awards, AkzoNobel was also the overall winner in 2015.

This year’s judges, including Elsevier’s Christina Valimaki, VP, Chemicals Segment Market, were impressed by the scope of the benefits and commercial impact offered by AkzoNobel’s innovation. Interline 9001 offers superior chemical resistance, easier and more efficient tank cleaning, performance longevity and lower environmental impact. Operational costs can be reduced by up to 70% as a result of the innovation.

Dow Chemical’s Fluidised Catalytic Dehydrogenation (FCDh) process won Best Process Innovation as well as overall special mention, as the judges were particularly impressed by the selectivity of the catalyst and the high conversion rates achieved. The process has the potential to decrease capital costs and energy usage in converting propane.

In the other two company product innovation categories, Canada’s Enerkem, which has developed and commercially implemented a large-scale municipal waste to chemicals technology, was awarded Innovation with Best Benefit for the Environment and Sustainability. California-based Genomatica was recognized as contributing the Best Innovation by a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise for its novel process to produce 1,3-butylene glycol by fermentation of common sugars.

Winning with Commercial Impact

There was a strong emphasis on the commercial impact of the innovations under consideration this year, with judges looking for indications among entrants of the innovation having been brought to market and with reasonable impact in the marketplace.

The judges also looked at the difficulty scale of the innovation and the magnitude of the change it creates in the market. In the Best Product Innovation category, for instance, AkzoNobel stood out as a clear winner given its rapid success in the market and the scale of benefits offered to users. And, in the Best Process Innovation category, the Dow FCDh entry was a clear winner, given the performance gains achieved by the process.

2nd Annual Alpha Innovator of the Year winners for individual contribution announced

For the second year, Elsevier’s R&D Solutions partnered with ICIS as the overall awards sponsor, and have again recognized individual innovators in chemicals with two Alpha Innovator of the Year Awards. Congratulations go to:

  • Alpha Innovator of the Year – New Product Development/Process Optimization:
    Muralidhar Ingale, Adroit PharmaChem – recognized for developing a patented process for converting waste ammonia and CO2 to phthalocyanine compounds
  • Alpha Innovator of the Year – Environment and Sustainability:
    Dr. Mei Li, Dow Agrosciences – awarded for commercialization of three novel agrochemical products

Since the announcement, Christina Valimaki had an opportunity to sit down with Dr. Mei Li of Dow Agrosciences to learn about the process that led to the development of the three novel agrochemical products for which she was recognized. Dr. Li spoke extensively about the importance of teamwork in innovation, and while the Alpha Innovator of the Year Award recognizes one individual, she was quick to point out that she couldn’t have done this work on her own, acknowledging the many engineers and process developers who played a part in developing these products, and the interplay between individual talents and strengths that enable the team to work together in order to innovate.

Industry recognition as Alpha Innovator of the Year leads to business benefits for inaugural winner

We at Elsevier were encouraged by the business impact on the companies honoured in last year’s inaugural Alpha Innovator of the Year Award. Hannah Murnen, VP of Business Development, at Compact Membrane Systems – winner in the Environment and Sustainability category – explained, “The award adds validity to us, so rather than an unknown, very small company from Delaware – an area that’s not necessarily known as a stronghold of petrochemical innovation – the ICIS Innovation Awards help us to ‘punch above our weight’ in showing people we’ve developed something very unique and valuable in a number of different industrial applications.”

Visit the Get to Alpha site to learn more about the Alpha Innovator of the Year Awards and what it means to ‘achieve Alpha’.  I encourage you to watch the videos highlighting Compact Membrane Systems, wherein Hannah Murnen and Sudip Mujumdar, CTO, discuss the benefits of receiving the award, how the company’s business model is completely reliant on innovation, and how CMS relies on scientific literature to understand industry problems.

Celebrating the 2017 ICIS Award Recipients

This year’s winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in London on Friday, December 8. And, new this year, they will also receive a free trial of Reaxys, Elsevier’s highly intuitive and robust database to help chemists retrieve chemistry literature and data in half the time of other solutions. Visit the 2017 ICIS Awards site for more information on each of the winners as well as the judging panel and judging process.

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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