Regional innovation steps highlighted at GPCA Forum

DUBAI — The sheer number of delegates from around the globe and the platform it has become for varied and forward-thinking discussion and debate has made the GPCA Annual Forum the most significant global industry event, according to David Weidman, President & CEO, Celanese.

Speaking on Day 2 of the Forum, his presentation focused on the key strategies that need to be implemented in order to compete effectively in the new chemical order and reflected the overarching message of the Forum, driving value and growth through innovation.

According to Weidman, future change in the chemical industry will be driven by new players and emerging geographic growth. He added that enterprise value can be increased by strategies that drive geographic growth, innovation and productivity.

Quoting American Chemistry Council findings, Weidman said for every dollar invested in chemical R&D the returns are 17%.

He added that companies with greater than 50 per cent of revenues from products created in the last 5 years increased revenue 10 per cent, while companies with less than 10 per cent of revenue from new products created in the last 5 years demonstrated no growth.

More than 1300 delegates attended the final day of the fifth edition of this annual event, which has seen leaders of major global and Middle Eastern companies including SABIC, Sipchem, Borouge, TASNEE, BASF, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical and Shell discuss the future of the industry, growth areas, and what companies can do to take advantage of these opportunities and grow their business.

Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General of GPCA, who opened the first session, highlighted the numerous innovation initiatives that have been implemented by some of the region’s biggest petrochemical companies.

From SABIC’s 1800 patents in 2010 to Borouge’s Abu Dhabi Innovation Centre and the ChemWEyaat project, Dr Sadoun lauded regional players who have already realised the importance of innovation but urged all to shift focus from increasing capacity to increasing investment in innovation, be it to improve the supply chain or human capital.

“Capabilities building and more specifically, HR development are becoming a top priority but more focus is needed. In addition to this, process innovation and organisational innovation are also imperative to improve productivity and cost advantage,” he said.

Asia remains a major market for manufacturers and traders from the Middle East and vice-versa so the continent was also well-represented on Day 2 by industry stalwart Ki- Joon Hong, President and CEO, Hanwha Chemical Corp.

His presentation highlighted the importance a Middle East-Asian alliance to create maximum value and foster growth, making particular mention of the advantages available within both markets, notably the abundant natural resources and capital in the Middle East and the operational excellence, qualified human resources and experience of Asia. He also spoke about the high demand for solar energy projected to continue in the future and how this could be an attractive option for the region.

The role of finance in driving and supporting growth in the chemical industry was highlighted by Victor L.L. Chu, Chairman, First Eastern Investment Group.

Using Russia as an example, Dmitry Konov, President, Sibur LLC, looked forward and shared strategies for emerging players to compete effectively. He charted out the country’s ambitious plans for industry development, including the building of 6 clusters of world-class ethylene capacities and how it’s taking advantage of its feedstock potential.

The last speaker of the day, Rainer Diercks, President, Petrochemical Division, BASF SE, focused on how chemistry shapes our future. “Business models need to be adapted and a mindset change from selling commodities to selling solutions is a must,” he said.

“The high calibre of this year’s speakers, the variety of discussion and debate and the initial feedback from delegates on the last day only proves the point that the GPCA Annual Forum has become the definitive meeting of industry leaders and decision makers.

We thank everyone for joining us and are already getting geared up for 2011,” said Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA.

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