2023 in review: from multi-partner collaboration to a bold Manifesto for innovation

6 February 2024 | Muriel Cozier and Sharon Todd

Sharon Todd, CEO of SCI

SCI was founded in 1881 by pioneering scientists and industrialists who shared the desire to solve the societal challenges of their day. That desire is just as evident today in SCI’s diverse and pioneering membership, who are the bedrock of the organisation I am proud to lead.

In 2023, we developed a strategy that sets out a path for the organisation to take us up to 2030 and beyond. This strategy incorporates bold visions based on the unique makeup, knowledge and diversity of our organisation and membership. Every part of SCI’s executive team, from publishing to events, to the business development, finance and premises teams will be stepping up to bring this strategy to life.

You will have already seen some of the strategy outcomes. We are showcasing our publications in a new way. We are bringing academia and industry together to set new standards in engagement. We are celebrating our outstanding academics and industrialists with new awards and our new flagship awards dinner.

Perhaps the biggest step for the organisation is the decision to speak on behalf of our members and call for the UK government to adopt an industrial strategy that will ensure that the UK remains an innovative powerhouse and a place that attracts and welcomes the world’s brightest minds.

Collaboration is key for SCI, and the multi-partner Flue2Chem project, which SCI is playing a key role in facilitating, is the perfect example of SCI’s reason for existing as the place where science meets business.

While it is important to celebrate the new, it is equally important to recognise the lasting power of our flagship publication, C&I, which celebrated its centenary in 2023, bringing to life the innovations that are impacting us now and are set to shape the future.

The team at SCI truly reflects our membership; diverse, innovative and prepared to step up to a challenge. From a manifesto to propel the UK’s industry, through to new awards, events and corporate partners, and a magazine that has stood the test of time, 2023 marked a year of transition for SCI as it makes good on its strategy for the next decade.

Sharon Todd, CEO of SCI

Starting 2023 with first: Flue2Chem


SCI began 2023 with a first, as we joined forces with leading businesses, academics and government to launch the Flue2Chem project. The two-year programme, now involving a total of 16 organisations, with funding from Innovate UK, is taking waste gas from foundation industries such as metals, glass, paper and chemicals, to generate an alternative source of carbon as a feedstock for producing consumer products.

Along with the goal of making these foundation industries more sustainable, the project will also play a role in helping the UK meet its net zero targets by 2050. The project has made great strides in its first year.

‘The project has made steady progress over the year,’ said David Bott SCI’s Director of Innovation. ‘All of the partners have completed great work. We anticipated that there may be a number of hurdles to overcome, and these have allowed the whole team to learn a lot. We are anticipating that the first capturing of carbon will take place at the plant of one of the partners in the early part of 2024.’

Accelerating innovation out of the laboratory

SCI Journal Highlights

Flue2Chem is rooted in the work carried out by researchers both in academia and industry. Sharing this work through academic journals is an important route for researchers to collaborate and develop nascent technologies and solutions.

SCI’s journals have been impacting innovation since 1882 when what is now known as the Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology was originally launched.

2023 saw us launch our Journal Highlights initiative and press activity around our journals, making selected studies from across the journal portfolio more widely accessible through the wider media. This has led to researchers being recognised for their work not only by other academics but also by industry and the wider public.

Lucy Wright, Publishing Executive at SCI, commented; ‘We are thrilled that not only are we providing wider recognition for the researchers who submit to SCI’s well-regarded journals, but also that their research is being communicated to a wider audience.’

Indeed, the journals are set to become an increasing source of inspiration for SCI and its community, as their role grows in helping SCI chart its new path.

John MacFarlane, SCI’s Director of Publishing explains: ‘SCI’s journals already have great impact, and we are in a phase of development to make sure that impact increases; providing a place for academics and industrial researchers alike to share their developments. We are creating a unique environment where journal editors can not only engage with industrial players, but also have a platform to share their insights. I believe that this development is going to have a huge bearing on how we see innovation move from the laboratory out into society.’

Where science meets business

Where science meets business

Taking the impact of the journals a step further, SCI held its first Where Science Meets Business event in November. Bringing together SCI’s journal editors and leading industrial players, delegates heard about the latest innovations published in SCI’s journals and discussed how these could impact industries from agriculture through to polymers.

With sustainability the heart of all the presentations and discussions, it was agreed that industry needs to find a unified, standardised approach to sustainability reporting and target setting. ‘There is a mood within that community to do something together, which I think is really positive,’ said SCI’s CEO Sharon Todd during the lively panel discussion.

Sustainability and Innovation Awards

SCI Award winners

Recognising not only the mood for collaboration but what has already been achieved by corporate partners, academics and wider industry, SCI hosted its first annual Sustainability and Innovation Awards Dinner in May 2023. Held at the Palace of Westminster, the venue provided the perfect backdrop to celebrate the many winners of SCI’s awards as well as mark the launch of two new awards: the Sustainability Award and the Innovation Enabled by Partnership Award.

As well as award winners from academia and industry, this inaugural event brought together policymakers from across UK’s political spectrum, with the Rt Hon Greg Clark, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee; Stephen Metcalfe, Chair of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee; and Chi Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation in attendance. SCI was also honoured to welcome Oleksiy Golubov, President of the Ukrainian Chemists Union, to the event.

Paul Drechsler and Chi Onwurah
SCI President Paul Drechsler CBE and Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, at the inaugural SCI Sustainability and Innovation Awards Dinner.

SCI is delighted to announce that the flagship awards event will take place for the second time in May 2024 at the Palace of Westminster – and the short window to apply for the two new awards launched at last year’s event is now open.

Providing a voice for UK Industry

SCI's Manifesto for An Industrial Science and Innovation Strategy
Download SCI's Manifesto for an Industrial Science & Innovation Strategy here.

SCI’s presence in Westminster provided a timely prelude to one of the boldest moves in the charity’s history, galvanising industry and policy makers as it set out its Manifesto calling for an industrial science and innovation strategy.

The Manifesto is based on research commissioned by SCI and carried out by LEK Consulting, which found that implementing a comprehensive industrial strategy, with a focus on life sciences and clean energy, could result in a £230 million economic boost by 2030.

While the Manifesto issued a stark warning that the UK is falling behind in the race to attract investment for economic growth and innovation, SCI’s CEO Sharon Todd said there was reason for optimism. ‘If we act now, we might just have enough time to catch up, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and boosting the economy by hundreds of billions of pounds.’

Welcoming the Manifesto Liam Condon CEO of SCI Corporate Partner Johnson Matthey said: ‘Addressing Climate Change by accelerating the net-zero transition requires both innovation and a supportive policy. SCI has developed a road map that can lead the way if we move with a strong sense of urgency.’

The Manifesto propelled SCI into the media spotlight as it gained traction with government officials, policy makers and industry. Sharon Todd was featured across a range of media outlets and the Manifesto received endorsement from former UK Business Secretaries: Lord Mandelson, Sir Vince Cable, and the Rt Hon Greg Clark.

Building on strong foundations

SCI corporate partners

What SCI delivered in 2023 was the result of hard work by people too numerous to mention in this overview of what was a pivotal year. But these achievements have been built on the strong foundations established over many years. Not least is our growing Corporate Partner network, which has championed SCI in its new era of growth. During 2023 this network expanded and is seeing incredible support.

Karen Hobbs, SCI’s Head of Stakeholder Engagement explains: ‘Since the SCI Corporate Partnership scheme was introduced in 2017, this network has grown and continues to attract a wide range of organisations.

‘In 2023 we welcomed Pfizer and Sterling Pharma, P&G and Cargill. This network is now collaborating on three key areas of activity related to Sustainability, Skills and EDI, and Promoting Innovation and Industry. Support from this group led to the launch of the new Awards Dinner in May, as well as an online industry recruitment showcase in November.

‘If that wasn’t enough, we convened our first meeting of Heads of Sustainability from across the Corporate Partner Network to highlight and explore areas where the group can work together to make a real difference. We are excited to continue this work with the group in 2024 and look forward to bringing more companies into the network.’

100 years of C&I


There are numerous benefits to SCI membership, including access to a wealth of information that the organisation shares through its events, online platforms, journals and its member magazine Chemistry & Industry (C&I), which marked its centenary in 2023.

C&I is one of the most authoritative sources for up-to-date information on a whole range of chemistry related subjects and for many of our members is their place to keep abreast of accelerating pace of change in science from climate change through to antimicrobial resistance.

C&I’s Editor Neil Eisberg said: ‘There is very little that C&I has not covered in the ever-complex world of scientific advances. We are well placed to talk to the leading scientists and entrepreneurs in well established companies as well as the ever-increasing number of startups. There is certainly never a dull moment – and blowing the dust off some of the early issues of C&I, I would say that there was never a dull moment 100 years ago, either.’

The future is never certain. But SCI has set itself on a path that is sure to have an increasing impact on how science and business coexist to improve lives. There are plenty of challenges ahead, but the innovative and pioneering spirit that brought SCI into existence, will provide the impetus to provide solutions to the challenges facing society worldwide.

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