Business digest

C&I Issue 3, 2017

Innovative ideas submitted by chemistry start-ups, researchers and students from around the world in response to AkzoNobel's Imagine Chemistry Challenge. The challenge is focused on plastics recycling, waste water-free chemical sites, cellulose-based alternatives to synthetics, bio-based and biodegradable surfactants and thickeners; and bio-based sources of ethylene. There was also a call for broader ideas in highly reactive chemistry and technology; and sustainable alternatives to current technologies.

Estimated outlay by BASF into its new Innovation Campus Asia Pacific in Mumbai, India; its largest R&D investment in South Asia. All global research operations at the campus will come under BASF Chemicals India. The campus will expand the company’s existing R&D activities in India to include global and regional research on a wide range of specialty chemicals.

Invested by Henkel’s newly established unit Henkel Ventures, in start-ups with specific digital or technological expertise across the company’s three business units – adhesive technologies, beauty care, and laundry & home care.

Awarded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to the BIO-FLARE study, a consortium of three UK universities, one German company, the NHS and Oxford Biodynamics. The project aims to identify the biological factors that trigger disease relapses, known as flares, in rheumatoid arthritis.

Years in business, celebrated by Johnson Matthey. The global science and technology company was founded in London by Percival Norton Johnson in 1817 as a gold assaying business.

European contract pharma development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO), 3P Biopharmaceuticals has signed a collaboration agreement with Australian biotech Ondek for the production of an immunotherapy based on the Helicobacter pylori organism.

Dutch paints and coatings maker, AkzoNobel is to review the strategic options for the separation of its specialty chemicals business, which had revenues of €4.8bn in 2016. The company has rejected two unsolicited takeover offers from US rival PPG Industries.

Swiss colour and speciality chemicals company, Archroma has opened a Global Centre of Excellence for Surface & Coating Technology in Bradford, UK, the location of the company's application laboratory team for deposit control. The existing laboratory facilities have been extended and state-of-the-art equipment for application development and measurement have been installed.

Speciality chemicals firm, Ashland has launched the North American Ashland Corrosion Science Center (ACSC) of Excellence to support corrosion applications based on fibre-reinforced polymers (FRP) in industries such as chemical processing, oil and gas, mineral processing, pulp and paper, and pollution control.

Netherlands-based leather and chemicals coatings company, Stahl has acquired BASF’s leather chemicals business, which is part of BASF performance chemicals division. Under the terms of the agreement, which is expected to take place in Q4 2017, BASF will receive a 16% minority stake in the Stahl Group, and will supply significant volumes of leather chemicals to company under mid to long-term supply agreements. Stahl will gain BASF’s leather chemicals production site in Spain.

Biopharma R&D concern, Bioversys has entered a collaboration with pharmaceutical services Aptuit to identify and validate novel targets and molecules for Gram-negative bacteria to address antibiotic resistance in the treatment of serious infections.

Materials manufacturer, Covestro has resolved to continue manufacturing the rigid foam precursor MDI in Tarragona, Spain. The plant closure that had originally been planned for the end of 2017 has been suspended because of the significant increase in demand for MDI and because the company has managed to get access to raw materials, such as chlorine, for the site beyond 2017.

Equity firm, Cinven has entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire CHRYSO, a global specialty chemicals group for construction materials. The group, headquartered in France, has 29 manufacturing facilities globally and four R&D centres.

Dutch health and nutrition company, DSM and German chemicals producer, Evonik, are setting up a JV to produce omega-3 fatty acid products from marine algae, rather than wild fish, for animal nutrition. The companies will each hold 50% share in the JV, called Veramaris, and co-own the production facility based at an existing site of Evonik, which is expected to come online in 2019. In addition, Evonik has acquired cosmetics Dr. Straetmans, which specialises in developing and marketing alternative preservatives for the cosmetic industry.

Speciality chemicals concern, Thomas Swan has launched a high-performance graphene intermediate product, Elicarb Graphene, for coatings formulators. Available in litre quantities for testing and evaluation, the dispersion is targeted at improving corrosion resistance, thermal conductivity, chemical barrier and mechanical resistance in industrial coatings.

Canadian forest products producer, Canfor Pulp is to develop the first commercial-scale biocrude oil plant. The plant is expected to produce upwards of 400,000 barrels of the petroleum substitute/year. Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) will invest $13m to support the project, which will cost approximately $39.2m overall.

Swedish biotech Medivir has come to agreement with pharmaceuticals Janssen to out license the commercial rights to the Nordics for Simeprevir and future Simeprevir-containing products. In exchange, the company will receive royalties on the sales, and performance-based milestones totalling up to approximately €6m. Additionally, Medivir has returned the commercial rights to Adasuve in the Nordic region to Ferrer, and with no revenues associated with direct sales of pharmaceutical products, will now focus on R&D.

Biorenewables producer, P2 Science has secured $9.55m venture capital funding to build and run its first commercial plant in New Haven, Connecticut, US. The plant will use proprietary flow chemistry technology to manufacture speciality products for the flavour and fragrance, cosmetics and related markets.

French biopharmaceutical firm, Pharnext has announced an R&D agreement with Galapagos, the Belgo-Dutch pharma research company, to generate a pipeline of novel synergistic drug combinations for immunoinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders. Each company will have previously allocated priority on indications, and jointly own the intellectual property of products generated by the collaboration.

Canadian-based Precision NanoSystems has launched the NanoAssemblr scale-up system to support the clinical development of nanomedicines. This system is designed for the manufacture of clinical trial material in GMP environments, and will support the production of novel medicines, including siRNA, mRNA and CRISPR/Cas9 therapeutics.

The University of Dundee, UK, has been awarded a near £1m grant from Innovate UK to find new antibacterial drugs. The grant will be spent on converting existing space into a medicinal chemistry laboratory that, together with existing infrastructure, will create the Antibacterial Drug Discovery Accelerator.

Biopharmaceuticals concern, PureTech Health has entered into a licensing and equity agreement with Novartis to advance two clinical-stage programmes targeting the rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway. PureTech Health will develop these drug candidates in an operating subsidiary, resTORbio, with an initial focus on diseases related to immunesenescence, an age-related decline in immune function.

Spin-out from the University of Leuven, reMYND NV has received two grants: from VLAIO, the Flemish agency for innovation and entrepreneurship to advance the treatment of epilepsy; and H2020, the EU research and innovation programme, to develop treatments for early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Japanese technology company, Teijen has developed a new hard-coating technology that can be applied evenly on large or complex-shaped automotive resin windows with the same level of abrasion resistance as glass windows and double the weather resistance of conventional plastics glazing. The company will initially produce small-lot samples of actual windows for selected car models at a pilot plant in Matsuyama, Japan.

US laboratory equipment company, Thermo Fisher Scientific has announced a collaboration with the UK’s Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult to help address the challenges in supply chain management and commercialisation of cell and gene therapy around the world. The company will co-locate its CryoHub storage and distribution solution with Catapult’s new cell and gene therapy manufacturing centre in Stevenage UK, due for completion in summer 2017.

UK pharma concern, Vernalis, and French pharmaceuticals, Servier are reinforcing their seven-year partnership with a new two-year oncology drug discovery collaboration on an undisclosed target. The UK company will receive a €2m upfront payment and a share in the downstream success of any resulting products.

Munich-based chemical group, Wacker Chemie is expanding the capacity of its silicon-metal site at Holla in Norway. The capacity increase and local infra¬structure expansion is expected to cost around €85m with completion expected during the first half of 2019.

The University of Glasgow has opened its new £32m Imaging Centre of Excellence (ICE). The medical research facility was built in collaboration with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, with £16m funding from the Medical Research Council and Glasgow City Region City Deal.

Antibody discovery and technology company, IONTAS has entered into a licence agreement with the University of Turku in Finland for the use of its patented mutagenesis technology. The method can be applied to antibody library construction and to the generation and optimisation of antibodies and other binding molecules.

Biopharmaceuticals specialist, Aprea Therapeutics has announced a collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, US, to study the effects of reactivation of tumour suppressor protein p53 by APR-246. The aim of the collaboration is to evaluate and characterise its preclinical efficacy in combination with multiple other anti-cancer agents and across multiple tumour types. The project is funded by Nordic life science investor, Karolinska Development.

Eli Lilly and the William Sansum Diabetes Center, Calfornia, US, have established a research collaboration to improve the lives of Latino people affected by diabetes through enhanced research, education and care.

ExxonMobil has completed new $35m manufacturing facility for the production of finished Isopar products, used in inks, air fresheners, paints and water treatment, at its Fawley refining and petrochemical complex, described as the largest in the UK. Previously, Isopar production was begun at Fawley and the then exported to the company’s Antwerp refinery for completion. The new Fawley facility has a capacity of up to 50,000t/year also offers the concurrent production of different grades rather than in batches. The production unit was assembled on site using a series of modules.

Covestro presented a new concept in electric car design at the 2017 VDI Plastics in Automotive Engineering Congress at the end of March in Manheim, Germany. It is said to be the first car with wraparound glazing made from transparent polycarbonate, featuring transparent A-pillars , to offer panoramic views for passengers. Illuminated surfaces with integrated LED spotlights, developed in collaboration with Hella are said to use light as ‘an adaptive design element’. Holography is expected to to become a key technology in future automotive lighting and the two companies have developed the integration of lighting functions into various components using Covestro’s holographic Bayfol HX films. Other scratch-resistant, glare-free films have been used for lighting and other integrated functions in the instrument panel. In addition to Hella, Covestro has also partnered with the Umea Institute of Design in Sweden on the design of the car.

Also at the VDI Congress, Sabic featured an injection moulded, foamed instrument carrier, which uses the company’s STAMAX and PP resins, which are injected into the mould with a foaming agent to produce a foamed core. The finished component is said to be both light and stiff, while using less material and shorter cycle times.

Meanwhile, at JEC World, in Paris, France, a door panel was displayed, constructed using Composites Evolution’s Biotex Flax. The panel, which uses a carbon/flax hybrid micro sandwich, was developed by NetComposites, KS Composites and RiverSimple, for the latter’s Rasa hydrogen fuel cell car that is manufactured in Wales, UK. The micro sandwich combines the mechanical benefits of carbon with reduced weight, cost and environmental impact, as well as reduced noise, vibration and harshness issues.

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