The power of the award (Day 53)

skyscraper currencyIs it possible to attach a value to winning an award? Are they worth the effort to galvanise an internal team to pull together an outstanding entry? Do they result in more investment? And how do you manage the implications of not winning (and in many cases, not even being shortlisted)?

These are difficult questions to answer, but I did want to give a few examples of where winning an IChemE Award can be the beginning of commercial and reputational success.

In 2012, Renmatix was the winner of IChemE’s Bioprocessing Award for creating a faster and less expensive method of converting biomass into sugar.

Renmatix also went on to win other innovation and bioenergy awards including the 2014 Bloomberg New Energy Pioneers Award, 2012 Platts Global Energy Award, 2013 ICIS Innovation Award Winners and it was ranked sixth in Fast Company magazine’s most innovative companies in energy in 2013.

Since then, they have gone from strength to strength and made some significant steps towards commercialising their “lignocellulosics to sugar” platform.

They have signed ‘Joint Development Agreements’ with BASF and a Finnish pulp and paper company – UPM. The partnership with BASF also brought in investment of USD30 million.

Late last year, Renmatix announced a collaboration with Virent to meet Coca Cola’s demands to make their plant bottles completely from sustainable, non-food sources.

Overall, they have created lots of publicity in their technology using Awards as one of their strategies. The approach has undoubtedly helped to create interest from both upstream and downstream partners, and they are progressing plans to build their first commercial-scale plant.

Last year’s overall IChemE Award winners, Queen’s University Belfast, has gone on to win the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Awards for its ground-breaking work in removing harmful mercury from natural gas.

The technology developed by Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL), in partnership with PETRONAS, is being used to produce mercury-free natural gas at two PETRONAS plants in Malaysia.

QUILL and PETRONAS - IChemE Awards winners 2013

QUILL and PETRONAS – Winner – Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemical and Process Engineering – IChemE Awards 2013

Since then, PETRONAS has signed a five year licensing agreement with Swiss-based Clariant to market the technology globally. Overall, the technology has gone through a rapid commercialisation process.

Winning an IChemE Award can also open unexpected doors.

Last year’s Bioprocessing Award winners, PROjEN, attracted the attention of a UK Member of Parliament who wanted to visit a facility they designed and built, which converted pig waste into energy.

Long-term, support and interest from politicians like this can be invaluable to influence policy and legislation, and illustrate the importance of chemical engineering.

If you’d like to attend this year’s IChemE Awards in North America, Malaysia, Singapore and the Global Awards in the UK on 6 November, please visit our website.

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Have you enjoyed major commercial and PR success after winning an award? Please tell us your story.