England’s North East – still a powerhouse of industry and innovation (Day 323)

For a long time now, my mantra has been “Chemical engineering matters.” If you’ve read anything by me, or listened to me speak, the message will have been loud and clear. And that’s why this principle is now embedded at the core of IChemE.

Playing table football at the North East annual dinner with Teesside Member Group Chair, Adrian Northey
Playing table football at the North East annual dinner with Teesside Member Group Chair, Adrian Northey

But sometimes even I am overwhelmed by just how strongly other people feel the same way. And my recent visit to Teesside, in England’s North East, was one of those times.

I had the privilege of addressing the North East IChemE annual dinner, as well as visiting several sites in the area where chemical engineers are creating sustainable solutions for a wide range of challenges. Time and again, I was impressed by the dedication and achievements of the people I met.

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Shining a light on chemical engineering (Day 164)

IChemE Awards 2014Few professions have the power globally to shape and improve the future.

Chemical engineers have this privilege and this year’s IChemE Global Awards once again illustrated how our profession is setting new standards in healthcare, energy, water, safety and a more sustainable planet, including supporting some of the poorest people in the world.

The Awards finished just over an hour ago and it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. IChemE was joined by nearly 500 people, who were treated to some excellent entertainment, food and the chance to mingle with colleagues and friends from around the world.

But, as always, the highlight of the evening was the awards and the chance to showcase some of the best chemical engineering talent, innovation and success from around the world.

And in 2014, the night belonged to Australasia, which collected a clutch of awards and highly commended entries, including the overall prize.

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Preventing blindness with a sleep mask (Day 140)

The number of people who are diagnosed with diabetes around the world is approaching 400 million.

In the UK, there are 3.2 million people diagnosed with the condition and an estimated 630,000 people have it, but don’t know it. The cost of diabetes to the NHS is estimated to be about £10 billion a year overall, with £7.7 billion related to health complications and £2.1 billion spent on treatments.

Sleep Mask
PolyPhotonics’ Noctura 400 mask is shortlisted for an IChemE Global Award in 2014.

This is a huge amount of money, and with the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicting a 55 per cent increase by 2035 in people living with diabetes worldwide, the cost is only going to increase and put a strain on the already limited resources.

PolyPhotonix, a bio-photonic and OLED (organic light-emitting diode) research company headed up by  Richard Kirk, has developed an innovative product that can save the NHS up to £1 billion a year by preventing and treating diabetes retinopathy and age related macular degeneration.

Continue reading Preventing blindness with a sleep mask (Day 140)

Innovation, innovation, innovation (Day 30)

Cake CandlesWith some exceptions, many countries, including the UK, have just been through the worst recession ever. Even now, nations have still to return to 2008 economic output levels.

If you managed to survive the last six years, you’re likely to be leaner and more efficient, but still cautious. As economists say – confidence is the magical word to drive investment, jobs and expansion.

Continue reading Innovation, innovation, innovation (Day 30)