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Seeking nominations for ICIS Alpha Innovator of the Year Award for the chemical industry

Inaugural winner has received increased industry recognition for developing a crucial process in refining and petrochemical operations

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Dr. Sudip Majumdar, Chief Technology Officer of Compact Membrane Systems, won the inaugural Alpha Innovator of the Year award in the Environment and Sustainability category.

Editor’s note: This month, we are exploring “how science can build a sustainable future.” We open with a competition that recognizes individuals and companies for innovation in the chemical industry. Here, we feature last year’s winner of the Environment and Sustainability category. Elsevier’s Christina Valimaki, who is on the judging panel again this year, writes about their accomplishments and encourages others to apply.


Elsevier’s R&D Solutions and the International Chemical Information Service (ICIS) are accepting nominations for the Alpha Innovator of the Year Award. Co-launched last year, the award will honor two individuals who have shown excellence in leadership, collaboration, creativity and the use of scientific or technical expertise in chemistry, chemical engineering and other related disciplinary fields — one for achievements in product development or process optimization, and another for success in progressing environmental performance and sustainability goals in the chemical industry.

Colleagues from Compact Membrane Systems (CMS) – last year’s winner of two ICIS Innovation Awards and the inaugural Alpha Innovator of the Year Award – acknowledged that this recognition has elevated awareness of their start-up company and open doors to new business.

Highlighting the individual achievements of the brightest minds in the Chemical industry

The ICIS Innovation Awards have traditionally recognized companies for innovations; with the introduction of the Alpha Innovator of the Year Award last year, ICIS and Elsevier’s R&D Solutions extended the spotlight to recognize individual scientists and researchers at the heart of some of the industry’s greatest advances.

Dr. Sudip Majumdar, Chief Technology Officer of Delaware-based CMS, won the first-ever Alpha Innovator of the Year award in the Environment and Sustainability category.

In addition, CMS was recognized as the overall company winner and also won the category for Best Innovation by a Small or Medium-Sized Enterprise for the development of a customized amorphous fluoropolymer membrane that separates olefins and paraffins. This crucial process in refining and petrochemical operations ultimately affects numerous industries. It is also one of the most-costly and energy-intensive processes in chemicals.

Dr. Majumdar initiated a project to develop new technology for this challenging separation problem and was recognized for his guidance in creating his company’s winning new process.

Honors result in increased recognition and validity for Compact Membrane Systems

As Hannah Murnen, VP of Business Development for Compact Membrane Systems, explained:

We’ve been able to use the three ICIS Innovation Awards as a big conversation starter when we’re having discussions with customers or potential partners. It adds a lot of credibility to us to be able to say that our technology has been validated and understood by outside experts who recognized it as one of the biggest innovations of the year. We’re a very small company, and to be able to say that we went up against some of the biggest players in petrochemicals provides a great credibility boost for us when we’re talking to some of our customers. The fact that we can point to the ICIS Awards is really helpful in opening those conversations and also making us more credible than I think we might come across otherwise.

Dr. Majumdar said it addressed a key problem experienced by start-ups:

Being a small company, it is hard for us to actually convince larger companies to use our technology. We can now say to customers, ‘Look, a third-party, comprised of experts evaluated our technology, and they say this technology has a lot of merit, and so other big companies are inclined to take a look at what we’re doing.

Video: CMS colleagues talk about the impact of their win

“The ICIS Innovation Awards allowed us to punch above our weight in showing people we’ve developed something that’s very unique and very valuable in a number of different industrial applications.”  — Hannah Murnen, VP of Business Development, Compact Membrane Systems

Colleagues at ICIS Chemical Business and Elsevier’s R&D Solutions are encouraged by the real business impact achieved by Compact Membrane Systems, and we believe that continued recognition of the advances and innovations of innovative companies and individuals, through the ICIS Innovation and Alpha Innovator of the Year Awards, will lead to a more sustainable, affordable and safe future for everyone.

At Elsevier, we’re encouraged by the real-world impact of the Alpha Innovator of the Year Award on last year’s winners, and we encourage companies and individuals who’ve shaped performance of a new product, solved a critical problem in a market, or leveraged green chemistry and engineering principles to apply, so we can share successes that could eventually lead to breakthrough innovations.  

We also encourage potential applicants to learn from the stories of scientists, engineers and other innovators, who exemplify the relentless spirit of continuous innovation and optimization in the chemical industry.

How to submit your nomination

Nominations are being accepted online through June 30, 2017. They will be assessed by the ICIS Innovation Awards judging panel, with results announced online in October 2017. Winners will enjoy benefits including an invitation to the awards ceremony in December in London. They will also receive a free trial of Elsevier’s Reaxys database, which helps chemists retrieve chemistry literature and data in half the time. Submit your entry here.

How science can build a sustainable future

This month, we are exploring “how science can build a sustainable future.” At Elsevier, we support sustainability science throughout our business, bringing innovative research to a wider audience, and providing information and analytics that shed light on sustainability research.

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