Wednesday, 19 January 2011

ICIS Innovation Award winners celebrate

As this innovation blog is brand new, I thought I'd take the chance to bring everyone up to date with the results of the ICIS Innovation Awards for 2010.

These Awards are sponsored overall by silicone specialist Dow Corning and with category sponsorship by consultancy CRA International and distributor U.S. Chemicals. Full details are on the Awards website.

A strong emphasis on sustainability and the environment was evident in many of the better entries for this year's ICIS Innovation Awards

The overall winner was India's Tata Chemicals for its innovative Swach domestic water filter using silver nano-scale technology and recycled rice husk ash. In the seven years that the ICIS Innovation Awards have been running, no entry has generated as much admiration and acclaim among the judges as the Tata Chemicals' water purifier.

The four category winners were: Best Product Innovation - Tata Chemicals Tata Swach nanotech water purifier; Best Innovation by an SME - NiTech Solutions Use of innovative NiTech reactor by Genzyme; Best Business Innovation - Huntsman Advanced Materials New generation of rapid manufacturing equipment and resins; and Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit - Teijin Fibers
ECO CIRCLE innovative closed-loop recycling system for polyester.

Winners and sponsors enjoy the award
presentation and lunch in London
Tata Chemicals' winning innovation was judged to cover all bases. It includes a novel use for a readily available natural waste stream - rice husk ash; it exploits hi-tech nanotechnology in the active biocidal ingredient - silver; and it addresses a huge social problem at an economic cost - the provision of safe drinking water in developing areas of the globe.

Judge Alfred Oberholz, formerly of board member for innovation at Evonik Degussa, commented that the Tata Swach addresses global problems with great social impact. Dow Corning's CTO Gregg Zank added that clearly the Tata Swach shows how chemicals and
chemical innovation are helping people everywhere. The innovation , he said, "resonates" with the needs of today and "tells a compelling story."

The Tata Swach brings low-cost water purification within the range of millions of people, initially in India, where it is now being marketed. The Swach filter system, consisting of nanoparticle-sized silver particles bonded on to the fibrous rice husk ash support, is designed to destroy bacteria in drinking water with a high kill rate.

Tata has also developed a simple switch to shut down the purifier when efficacy falls below a satisfactory level and has packaged the filter bulb in an attractive container to create a stylish domestic appliance.

CRA's Neil Checker said this innovation by Tata challenges other companies to analyse how they are going to innovate and market their products. "Tata are thinking differently and getting ideas into the market.... [The Swach] really addresses a broad audience," he noted.

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