CHEMTECH Specialty Chemicals 2019 Conference Throwback: Ideas, Moments, and Glimpses

With a noble mission to build up an industry platform through Trade Shows, Chemtech Foundation has been bringing together eminent industry stalwarts to exchange the pertinent business ideas-thoughts-and-updates, and also to set the context for way forward, since over last four decades. This year Chemtech has organized their Specialty Chemical 2019 Conference at Bombay Exhibition Grounds, Goregaon, Mumbai on 21-Feb-2019. The theme was: "Ease of Doing Business: Leveraging Sustainability, Digitalization, and Innovation".

LtoR: Mr Maulik Jasubhai, Mr Gurpreet Kohli, Mr Sanjeev Chopra, Mr Omer Dormen, Dr Sanjay Mishra, and Mr Ashish Dwivedi

Program Concept: On the face of various present challenges in Specialty Chemical Industry viz. product commoditization, communicating differentiated value, fluctuating raw material cost, appropriate response strategy to aggressive customers, etc., - "Ease of doing business in India" has become a very contentious subject. The most fundamental question could be: 'how competitive India is, or, would be as a country or a territory for doing business with an aim to grow across the nation as well as the globe, especially when a lot of change-influx is prevalent in terms of Innovation, Digitalizati on, Technological Changes, and many more.

The tone was rightly set by Dr Raman Ramachandran - Chairman CAB, Specialty Chemical World Expo 2019 and the Head of South Asia & CMD, BASF India Limited. Dr Raman said, "India's ability to manufacture complex agro -chemicals and pharmaceuticals, cost effectively, has already established it as a serious contender in specialty chemicals space. To become the next major manufacturing hub for specialty chemicals, India needs to leverage the power of Industry 4.0 via digitalization and embrace sustainable manufacturing practices. The industry also needs to focus on Research and Innovation as a differentiator. A marriage of world class Indian academic talent with abundant entrepreneurial spirit can prove to be a p otent combination."

This was followed by Vice Chairman's address by Mr. Gurpreet Kohli - Global Program Director R & D - Hindustan Unilever Limited, who presented the end user's perspective; followed by Keynote Addresses by Dr. Sanjay Mishra - Head of Innovation, Specialty Chemicals, SABIC and Mr. Omer Dormen, Vice President - India & South Asia, Castrol India Ltd. Mr. Sanjeev Chopra (IAS) Principal Secretary, Industries Dept., Govt. of Odisha & Chairman, IPICOL was the Guest of Honour during the inauguration of conference and appraised the industry about the vision of State of Odisha to drive the growth of Chemicals & Petrochemicals and downstream industry in the Paradip PCPIR region. Mr. Ashish Dwivedi (President, Specialty Chemicals & Business Strategy, Aditya Birla Group - Chemicals Business) presented the Concluding remarks & Vote of Thanks.

The entire day was spanned for various panel discussion based sessions on business-critical topics viz. 'Sustainability & Circular Economy', 'Building Innovation Ecosystem through Successful Industry & Academia Partnerships', 'Leveraging IIoT & Digitalization for Sustainable Growth'; and finally this eventful day had been con cluded with the themed subject - 'Ease of Doing Business'.

Highlights of the Addresses by the Industry Stalwarts:

Mr. Maulik Jasubhai - Chairman & Chief Executive, Jasubhai Group & Chemtech Foundation, on Chemtech's Contribution:
"We have worked towards building up Industry Platform for innovation, idea, technology, and bringing the world leaders to the entire value chain of Upstream, Midstream, Downstream, and Technological Equipment through our pioneering trade shows since last four decades with the abled guidance of eminent industry leaders, who are the part of our Central Advisory Board.

We initiated various workshops and seminars on 'Women in Manufacturing', 'BioPharma for students with handson formulation and projects', and 'Case Study based presentation on Digital Technology & IoT'.

We have also collaborated with BIRAC for our 'Student Outreach Program'. More than 2000 students are getting benefitted through this program. They will present more than 82 papers and close to 50 projects. Not only that, our students will be placed through BIRAC across new start-ups and technological platforms.

Even we are also associated with Somaiya Vidyavihar, which has received a cabinet approval for being a university; and we are conducting several programs through their Technology Incubator - RiiDL".

Dr. Raman Ramachandran - Head of South Asia & CMD, BASF India Ltd - Chairman CAB, Specialty Chemicals World Expo 2019, on Contribution of Chemical Industry:
"We are one of the fastest growing economies of about USD 2.5 trillion; and foreseeing to double it to USD 5 trillion in next 5 - 10 years, thus will become one of the biggest economies in the World. And most important part of this is: we intend 20 percent to 25 percent of this to come from manufacturing, to reach this very ambitious objective. Chemical industry is the enabler of most of the other manufacturing industries. A prominent example of this is: Automobile industry. There is tremendous amount of chemistry that goes to this industry - whether it is the Paint on the surface, or engineering the 'Plastics' that reduce the weight of the automobiles & make it more fuel efficient, or even with additives which make fuel efficiency even better. So, we are a very vital industry in terms of opportunities exist for all of us. But the question is: Is this going to be catered by the local manufacturers? Or, would it be imported through other countries? We advocate to the Government for creating an enabling environment to do business better in terms of infrastructure, energy cost, stifling regulating rules, and various other factors".

In context of Sustainability, he mentioned: "For us, sustainability does not end with just our goals, products, or solutions. It is about partnering with our customers, distributors, suppliers, and the society, to make sure that their sustainability goals are met as well as the prescribed regulatory standards are adhered to. It is also about elevating the benchmarks for sustainability practices in the country. The true effect of sustainability will be seen only if the entire value chain adopts it".

Mr. Gurpreet Kohli- Global Program Director (R & D), Hindustan Unilever Ltd., onEnd-User's Perspective:
"From an end-user's perspective, innovation is the precursor to the survival of any organization. It is all about to understand the emerging needs of the customers or consumers, and to design the right product for them. Here, the Specialty Chemical Industry plays a very pertinent role; because - this industry identifies the chemistry, creates the chemistry, and supplies it at scale". In continuation to this, he also mentioned - "Sustainability is and should be a license to operate. Because, the world around us is changing very rapidly due to climate change, effects of pollution, and consumption of materials like water, energy, etc., which is stressing the environment".

Dr. Sanjay Mishra - Head of Innovation, Specialty Chemicals , SABIC, on Changing Definition of Innovation:
"The definition of innovation in our view is changing. It's no longer limited to only introducing a new chemistry, a new product, or a new process. Innovation often comes in the form of service, business model, digitalization; and more importantly it's not 'either - or', it's 'AND'. It's a little bit of all of these that are going to get us to the next level , as we think about the timeframe of next 5 to 15 years. Successful innovations will depend upon creating coinnovations. Co-innovation is the mantra or the theme that will get us into the future. Digitalization is in full swing. We got to run with it with all arms surrounded; but it does need us to move from 'Functional Optimization' to 'System Transformation' for it to really show the effects."

Mr. Omer Dormen - Vice President, India and South Asia, Castrol India Limited, on Meeting Climate Goal and Sustainability :
"The World is going to need energy by 30 percent more in next 20 years. At the same time, we need to significantly reduce the emissions in order to meet the climate goal. On the face of challenges, we can evolve by three levels - Product Innovation, Process Innovation, and Catering to Customers. While we are looking at Product Innovation, we also need to be sustainable in terms of how we produce our product. Safety is of paramount importance. Sustainability of life is also important to work on. The industrial growth interprets that the energy of India will also grow to 11 per cent of the global energy demand. And with that, India will also increase its carbon footprint in the global scale. It’s going to 14 percent, because 42 percent of the energy demand would be met by coal. So, this is the real challenge across the globe; and a challenge for India as well in terms of sustainability. So here, how are we going to evolve? We can do that at three levels - Product Innovation, Process Sustainability, and Service to Customers."

LtoR: Mr Allwyn Crasto, Mr Satish Cheeti, Mr Ajay Durrani, Mr Karol Kerrane, Mr D Radhakrishnan, and Mr Ravi Kapoor @ session on Sustainability and Circular Economy

Sessions of the Day:
(I) Sustainability & Circular Economy

The subject was presented to the audience through a panel-based discussion chaired by Mr Ajay Durrani - Managing Director, Indian SubContinent, Covetsro India Pvt.Ltd. Other panel members were: Mr Satish Cheeti - CEO Recycling, Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd.; Mr Allwyn Crasto - Head, Transportation and Distribution Safety, Emergency Response and Fire Prevention, South Asia, BASF India Ltd.; Mr Ravi Kapoor - Chairman & Managing Director, Heubach India; Mr D Radhakrishnan – Principle Technologist-I, Chemical Technology Group, SRF Ltd; and Mr Karol Kerrane - Business Development Director, EPC Engineering & Technologies GmbH.

Signatory Tune of the Discussion:
Sustainability is primarily meeting today's needs without compromising the needs of the future. Because, in future, the products and services have to qualify certain aspects related to sustainability, circular economy, business model change, digitization, etc., which are bombarding the industry one after another. Now the million dollar question is: how in India, we can drive 'Sustainability and Circular Economy'? Will it make any economic sense? Circular Economy emphasizes the shift from 'Take-Make-Dispose' approach to 'Reduce-Reuse-and-Recycle' approach. And this topic has global importance. However from the Indian perspective of Circular Economy, a big question is: how do we make an economic sense out of this whole concept. India being an entrepreneur based economy, it is important to check that the business is really creating value not only for us, but for the whole ecosystem.

(II) Building Innovation Ecosystem through Successful Industry Academia Partnerships
The session was chaired by Mr Samir Somaiya, Chairman & Managing Director, Godavari Biorefineries Ltd. The session was anchored with 'Successful Business Model for Industry Academia Collaboration', presented by Dr Diels Ludo, Research Manager Sustainable Chemistry, VITO - Flemish Institute for Technology. Other panelists were: Dr Dietmar Hueglin - Director, Innovation Campus Mumbai (RA /OM), Vice President Advanced Materials & Systems Research , BASF Chemicals India Pvt Ltd; and Dr. Amita Joshi, Sr. Manager Technical, Biotechnology Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).

LtoR: Dr Amita Joshi, Dr Dietmar Hueglin, Mr Samir Somaiya, and Dr Diels Ludo @ session on Building Innovation Ecosystem through Successful Industry Academia Partnerships

Signatory Tune of the Discussion:
] Nations, which are not enriched with natural resources - e.g. minerals, Oil & Gas, etc - to offer to the World to make huge money, have to manufacture superior quality products or services through innovation; and to offer to the rest of the World for the Nation's survival and growth. With the backdrop of Specialty Chemical Industry, that;s the primary reason for which schools & the entire academia have to make their students excited at the very early age for choosing science in terms of chemistry, physics, biology etc.

And an ecosystem has to be built up where everybody will be of equal importance. For building an innovation ecosystem, research and development must be considered as an investment. India has to make more investment here. But it's not only about money. It's also about inculcation of right system and mindset. We need to create bridge amongst Industry, Academia, and the Market, so that we can create really innovative products which India and the rest of the World can be proud of.

(III) Leveraging IIoT & Digitalization for Sustainable Growth

LtoR: Mr Punit Krishna, Mr Ketan Karkhanis, Dr Raman Ramachandran, Mr Sharad Joshi, Mr. Sandeep Sreekumar, and Mr Subramanyam Kasibhat @ session on Leveraging IIoT & Digitalization for Sustainable Growth

The session was chaired and moderated by Dr Raman Ramachandran, Head - South Asia & CMD, BASF India Ltd. Other contributory panelists were: Mr Sandeep Sreekumar, Global Head, Adhesive Digital Operations (AOT), Henkel Supply Chain Singapore; Mr Punit Krishna, Co-founder and CEO, Chemarc; Mr Sharad Joshi, 4.0 Roll out leader South Asia, South East Asia, East Asia, and Australia & NZ, BASF; Mr Ketan Karkhanis, Head - IT, Clariant Chemicals, India; and Mr Subramanyam Kasibhat, Founder CEO, Vegam Solutions.

Signatory Tune of the Discussion:
Digital disruption is all across us and is unavoidable. This is the pulse of current generation. They want things fast and visible. And this attitude of them drives today's entrepreneurship, and in turn drives the entire Digital Transformation across the Globe, as well as in India. It’s beyond mentioning that Digitalization has manifold benefits, which include but not limit to: increasing efficiency, productivity, agility, flexibility, innovation, customer experience, safety, and reduction of cost. And, it is the end application of almost everything viz. Digital Marketing, Improvement of Go- To Marketing, Giving an Omni-Channel Experience to the Customers, Speeding up R & D, Formulating Visibility in Supply Chain, as well as fostering Maintenance-Health-and-Safety. It is worth mentioning that these digital technologies are exponential technologies, thus causing exponential growth.

(IV) CEO Round Table Ease of Doing Business

LtoR: Mr Rajendra Gogri, Mr Adnan Ahmad, Mr Meghav Mehta, and Mr Suyog Kotecha @ CEO Round Table - Ease of Doing Business

Chemtech's Specialty Chemical 2019 Conference was themed on this subject. The session was chaired by Mr Adnan Ahmad, Vice Chairman & Managing Director , Clariant Chemicals (India) Ltd; other panelists were - Mr Rajendra Gogri, Chairman & Managing Director, Aarti Induatries Limited; Mr Suyog Kotecha, Partner, McKinsey & Company; and Mr Meghav Mehta, General Manager Strategy, Deepak Phenolics Limited.

Signatory Tune of the Discussion: On the face of various present challenges in specialty chemical industry viz. product commoditization, communicating differentiated value, fluctuating raw material cost, appropriate response strategy to aggressive customers etc, - "Ease of doing business in India" has become a very contentious subject. The most fundamental question could be: 'how competitive India is or would be as a country, or a territory, for doing business with an aim to grow across the nation as well as the globe, especially when a lot of change-influx is prevalent in terms of innovation, digitalization, technological changes, and many more. The discussion revolved around the opportunities, challenges, regulations, and recommendations by the industry around how the government can further provide a strong impetus to the growth of the Indian specialty chemicals industry.