DPI Annual Meeting 2014: The Road to the Future

16 December 2014

This year's DPI Annual Meeting was held on 11-12 November and the venue was once again the Papendal Hotel conference centre in Arnhem (Netherlands). The programme included the Annual Meeting, the Technology Area review meetings, the half-yearly meeting of the Council of Participants and DPI Value Centre's annual Polymer Innovation Day.

Annual Meeting
The main day of the Annual Meeting, 11 November, was attended by some 230 people from both industry and academia. The plenary session of the meeting, chaired by Prof. Sybrand van der Zwaag, Scientific Director of DPI, featured a presentation by DPI Managing Director Dr. Jacques Joosten, who gave an update on developments at DPI; the DPI University Lecture and the DPI Industry Lecture by two leading guest speakers; and the presentation of the DPI Golden Thesis Award and the DPI Poster Awards. In a parallel programme, the DPI Value Centre held its annual Polymer Innovation Day.

Click here to view the pictures taken during the Annual Meeting and Polymer Innovation Day.


DPI Today and Tomorrow
In his presentation, "DPI Today and Tomorrow", Dr. Jacques Joosten gave an overview of activities completed or taking place in 2014, including an update on EU programmes, activities in the Netherlands and regional activities. The main topic of his presentation was the future of DPI. A proposal for DPI 2.0, involving changes to DPI's funding structure and portfolio, has become necessary following changes in the Dutch government's funding policy, as a result of which direct government funding of DPI has been stopped. The goal of DPI 2.0 is to secure the continuity of the DPI pre-competitive international research programmes in polymer science and technology on the basis of commitment and funding by industrial partners with a focused portfolio. Upward potential will be generated from additional funds from EU, NWO, STW, FOM, Chemelot and Dutch National Funding in order to create additional number of research positions. Dr. Joosten explained that the proposal had been discussed in the half-yearly meeting of the DPI Council of Participants held earlier that day. The proposal will be formally submitted to DPI's industrial partners before the end of this year. A final decision by the partners on their participation in DPI 2.0 is expected by the end of Q1 2015.

Guest lectures
The DPI University Lecture was given by Professor Vincenzo Busico of the Federico II University of Naples (Italy), whose topic was 'Polyolefin catalysis: there is life between supra and nano'. The DPI Industry Lecture was given by Frans Janssen, Subject Matter Expert Polymers and Composites at the Shell Technology Centre in Amsterdam, who spoke on the subject of "Flexible Composite Pipes for Oil & Gas Service: Improving Suitability Assessments Using the Solubility".

DPI Golden Thesis Award
The Annual Meeting also featured the presentation of the DPI Golden Thesis Award 2014. The three finalists competing for this year's award were: Mark van Eldijk (Radboud University, Nijmegen), with a thesis entitled "Elastin-like Polypeptides in Protein Nanotechnology"; Gert-Jan Wetzelaer (University of Groningen), with a thesis on "Change Transport and Recombination in Organic-Semiconductor Diodes"; and Diego Wever (University of Groningen), with a thesis on "Synthesis and Evaluation of Novel Linear and Branched Polyacrylamides for Enhanced Oil Recovery". Each of the nominees gave a short presentation elucidating his PhD research. At the close of the Annual Meeting, the winner of the Golden Thesis Award was announced: Mark van Eldijk.

Click here to read more about the Golden Thesis Award.

DPI Poster Award 
In keeping with tradition, the Annual Meeting gave scientists working on DPI projects an opportunity to present their research by means of posters. The posters were judged by the following criteria: scientific excellence, industrial relevance, presentation of the introduction and conclusions and amount of information). At the end of the plenary session, Prof. Sybrand van der Zwaag announced the names of the winners of the Poster Award. The First Prize went to Selen Solak of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, for the winning poster "Bulk heterojunction solar cells with trap free electron transport". The second and third prizes were granted to scientists working at the Chemical Technology Department of Eindhoven University of Technology: Dirk-Jan Mulder (second prize, poster title: The design and preparation of a nanoporous liquid crystal polymer with an adjustable pore interior) and Hitesh Khandelwal (third prize, poster title: Responsive Infrared Reflector based on Cholesteric Liquid Crystals).

In his closing remarks, Prof. Sybrand van der Zwaag thanked the people who had left DPI during the past year: Prof. Claus Eisenbach, Scientific Chairman Coatings Technology; Prof. Uli Schubert: Scientific Chairman High-Throughput Experimentation; Dr. Mercedes Crego Calama: Programme Area Coordinator.

Appreciation for DPI's role
As in previous years, a dinner was held at the close of the first day of the Annual Meeting. Attended by some 200 people, the dinner provided participants an ideal opportunity to get to know one another better in a relaxed, amiable setting. We asked a number of participants how they had experienced the Annual Meeting.

Fábio Kunrath, of Braskem Brazil, and his colleague Craig Meverden, of Braskem USA, were both enthusiastic about the event and the opportunity that the DPI platform offers for collaboration between companies and universities. Fábio Kunrath, a Programme Committee member and Braskem's contact person for DPI: "We have been with DPI since 2007 and we find the DPI concept very beneficial. Because of the networking, the knowledge exchange and the chain of knowledge among companies and universities in the field of polyolefins. Together, companies - even when they are competitors - can do more than they would be able to do individually. " Craig Meverden, who is responsible for polypropylene catalysis development and technology at Braskem America in Pittsburgh, PA, agrees: "Some of us on the DPI platform may be competitors, but each of us can benefit in our own way from the knowledge generated, without there being a competitive situation as such. In the US we are trying to develop such relationships between industry and universities, for example through our outreach programmes, but we don't have a platform focusing on polymers. Part of the reason to interact with an organization like DPI is that you can help students to develop, which can be of great benefit to them and their institutions, and also bring in good talent in our organization."

For Jinliang Qiao, Chief Expert at the SINOPEC Group in China and Vice President of SINOPEC Beijing Research Institute of Chemical Industry, the special value of DPI lies in the fact that it is a global platform: "From our point of view, cooperation at the national level is not always a problem, but when it comes to international collaboration, you need a platform like DPI. This is what makes DPI so unique. This is the 5th year of our participation and at this event we were once again able to have useful exchanges with people from both industry and academia. That is why we always send our representatives to attend all the three DPI meetings held each year."

Polymer Innovation Day 2014
DPI Value Centre's Polymer Innovation Day 2014 was held in combination with the DPI Annual Meeting at the Papendal Conference Centre in Arnhem (Netherlands) on Tuesday 11 November. Attracting around 350 participants (including the DPI attendees), the event centred on the theme "Collaboration in the Value Chain: Best Practices". As usual, the meeting targeted start-ups, SMEs and multinationals and aimed to promote collaboration among these players on innovation in the field of polymers.

A typical example of collaboration in the Value Chain projects was presented by Wim Klock of Van Wijhe Verf, a Dutch family business. With its Wijzonol brand, Van Wijhe has been active in the paints and coatings sector for nearly a hundred years now. Together with its partners in the value chain - DSM, resin supplier; IMS, paint applying company; and Span Finishing, metal and plastic powder coating company - Van Wijhe Verf is working on the innovative development of ‘low bake powder' for use on MDF, solid wood and plastics, addressing challenges such as curing and storage, outdoor durability and application on different types of wooden substrates.

The business market formed an ideal setting for the lunch break and flash presentations by eleven innovative new businesses. A typical example was the pitch Supreme Dutch, developers of "indestructible tyres". The innovative new tyres are of the "airless" type, which means no pumping and no flats. Made from a combination of materials with a micro-closed cell structure, the tyres offer a comfortable ride, are thrice as durable as conventional tyres, can be mounted on existing as well as new rims and are recyclable. Market introduction is planned for spring 2015 with the help of international crowd funding.

As in previous years, the Polymer Innovation Day proved to be an excellent meeting point and exchange platform for ideas and knowledge for entrepreneurs, R&D scientists and managers, as well as policymakers at both national and regional level.

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