Chempetitive Group participated in InformEx 2016 in New Orleans, February 2-4. For more than 30 years, InformEx has brought together decision makers and thought leaders to interact and drive growth in the fine and specialty chemical marketplace.

The chemical industry has seen many changes over the past few years as new forms of energy and fuels continue to wreak havoc on the commodity chemicals market. This in turn has created more opportunities for specialization, which has helped to drive innovation across the fine and specialty chemicals market.

As the home of chemistry innovation, InformEx has taken full advantage of the changing times to deliver a conference that not only prepares companies to address the challenges they face today, but seek new opportunities to put them on the forefront of innovation.

Here’s a look at some of the conference sessions and themes that drove this year’s meeting:

Discovering Opportunities with Cuba: With U.S. and Cuba relations opening, the opportunities for business development and collaboration seem to be endless. The President of the Cuban Chemical Society and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Havana, Luis Alberto Montero-Cabrera, gave a riveting keynote on the notable scientific achievements known to Cuba and how companies can take advantage of the rich resources and talent.
Going Green: The chemical industry has come under fire with consumers lobbying for less toxic chemicals in their everyday products from household cleaners to microbeads in face wash. The opportunity for implementing green strategies extends beyond consumer goods and into pharmaceutical development, alternative energy sources and much more. As closing keynote speaker and President of the Warner Babcock Institute, John Warner aptly points out that change needs to stem from academia.

“If chemists are the only people who have the skillset to make a new molecule, and the universities are not training these people to think about chemistry’s environmental impact, that is a big problem,” Warner shared. “The simple reality is that chemists have never thought this was their job.”

Changing Chemical Engineering through Genes: Synthetic biology is a growing discipline with opportunities across the pharmaceutical, energy, consumer goods and chemical industry. From an industry perspective, implementing synthetic biology into commercialization strategies is still a fairly new concept. Gene synthesis pioneer Devin Leake, vice president of R&D and operations for Gen9, and Noah Helman, co-founder and CSO of synthetic biology-based Industrial Microbes, discussed how improvements to gene synthesis technology are enabling more efficient, sustainable chemical engineering. For example, did you know that synthetic biology can be used to convert natural gas to chemicals? Industrial Microbes demonstrated how they are able to produce environmentally-responsible chemicals and fuels using low-cost greenhouse gases as raw materials.

When not in sessions, we took full advantage of all New Orleans has to offer from brass bands to cafe’ au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde. We even had the chance to take in a few Mardi Gras parades, NOLA’s famous hurricanes, and yes, we did bring home some beads, but we won’t share how!

For more information on InformEx 2016, check out some of the feature presentations here. You can also see what all the buzz was about on Twitter using #INF16. Thanks InformEx for another great meeting!