The conference was opened with ministerial addresses from our host nation with guest speakers Pavel Bělobrádek, Ph.D., MPA, Deputy Prime Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, Chairman of the Research, Development and Innovation Council of Government of the Czech Republic and Ing. Jan Mládek, CSc. | Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic providing both a welcome and an update on the impressive new developments in this leading European centre for industry.
We then heard a perspective from the demand side of the industry including Gary Miller from A Schulman, the 2nd largest plastics provider in the world and Jean-Marie Greindl from the world’s largest coatings provider. Both emphasised the ongoing importance of Ti02 and pigments to their business but their need for innovative strategic partners who will not just supply product but also develop creative responses to their customers’ requirements.
The morning plenary also including David Robb, CEO of Iluka to update on the outlook for the supply of TiO2 and Reg Adams provided a comprehensive summary of the economic drivers and the outlook for both industries.
The programme then broke into dedicated sessions focused on each market. The highlights of the Ti02 sessions included Peter O Sullivan outlining the key trends that the newly formed Chemours business are prioritising, Wu Zhonghui, President of KComber highlighting how to use big data to forecast the notoriously volatile Tio2 industry and several exciting innovations explaining how Ti02 can be used to make the planet cleaner from water treatment to emission and C02 reduction.
Meanwhile in the Pigments session attendees heard from major auto players like Ford and Porsche on the latest trends for both colour and performance and got updates from Clariant and Sun Chemical on the latest innovations in Colour Harmony. The session also featured a collaborative presentation between Bill Eibon, Director of PPG’s Global colour technology platform and Paul Czornij, Technical Manager of BASF’s colour excellence group
The conference also featured a boat trip down the Vltava River enabling delegates to network with the prestigious attendees from across the leadership of the industry against a backdrop of the scenic Prague skyline at night, kindly organised and provided by our host sponsors Advanced Materials JTJ
The closing session featured an innovative new approach to pigments in the cosmetics sector from the newly formed Boots Walgreen Alliance, a perspective on the inks market from Billions Europe and a closing session from Profialis on how Ti02 could be replaced in the PVC market, emphasising that while there are real threats to the future there are also many opportunities to innovate and provide value and the conference left the attendees with many new ideas and connections to enable them to do that.
"In a time of ongoing change for the industry, the event was very timely and very successful as a meeting place for the leadership of the industry to discuss ideas and learn about new opportunities for future growth. We are very grateful to our advisory board, our speakers and our hosts for their support and contributions to the success of this year's event" Ciaran Little, Business Manager and Conference Director at Smithers Rapra