7 July 2017
Where science meets business: from graphene to horticulture
This year, SCI was pleased to hold an evening Summer Reception as part of the 136th AGM on 5 July 2017, for members and invited guests. SCI Executive Director, Sharon Todd, opened the event with a warm welcome to an audience reflecting the diversity of SCI, with a variety of different disciplines of academia and industry represented.
SCI’s Honorary President, Neil Carson, gave a presidential address that touched on the current uncertainties of UK politics and the relevance to SCI. He spoke of how SCI’s core message to transform science into societal benefit has never been needed more, not to just create more jobs, but a wide range of jobs and especially those in manufacturing, which feed into local economy. In addition, he spoke of the need for high margin products with intellectual property to utilise the strong skill base of the UK population. Without industry, science on its own cannot add value to society and SCI certainly has a role to play here.
Following this address, the Carbon in Industry Medal was presented to Harry Swan by Geoff Fowler, SCI Honorary Treasurer and British Carbon Group committee member. The medal was established in 2010 to recognise the contribution by leading industrial scientists and engineers to carbon science and technology. Harry Swan is the 4th generation of the Swan family to work at Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd. and has been Managing Director since 2006. He has received this award in recognition of his work bringing graphene from the laboratory to the market.
Harry gave a fascinating talk entitled From Concord to Composites - Our Graphene Story in which he dedicated his achievement to his team at Thomas Swan and the collaboration with Trinity College, Dublin. He outlined a platform for innovation, including having the opportunity, academic collaboration, networking and funding to allow time to be patient. In addition, he added that ‘failure is a critical part of innovation’, referencing James Dyson and describing the effect failure has on creating new lines of thinking and modifications on current products. He described how the pathway to graphene began under the wings of a Concord, at Duxford Imperial War Museum and has now been scaled up in production capability, with over 200 customers. Harry outlined the large scope for development, with applications that include flexible displays, composites, sensors, printable electronics, resistive heating and development of other 2-D materials such boron nitride.
The evening drew to a close with the launch of the new SCIence Garden. Dr Alison Foster gave an introduction to the diverse array of plants, representing SCI's techincal and regional groups and showcasing the connections between all areas of chemistry related science, as well as highlighting the intrinsic role played by natural resources and the environment in industry. It was a beautiful summer evening to celebrate SCI and the new garden added a space in which people could network and reflect on the activities and achievements of the Society.