Celebrating excellence: SCI Innovation & Sustainability Awards 2024

20 May 2024 | Muriel Cozier | Photography © Andrew Lunn/SCI®

The SCI Innovation & Sustainability Awards 2024, back for its second year, brought together some of the world’s leading science-based companies, innovators, entrepreneurs and policymakers to celebrate and recognise advances in sustainability.

Held at the Palace of Westminster on 15 May, SCI’s CEO Sharon Todd opened the event by highlighting the global challenges and the headwinds that science businesses face, particularly in the UK. ‘Our industries are having to develop solutions at a faster pace. But we also need to be supported by clear policy and certainty,’ she told the gathering.

Chi Onwurah

Chi Onwurah MP, shadow minister for science research and innovation, noted the importance of science in solving a range of societal challenges, but also for growth. ‘We know that harnessing the innovative ideas of today and supporting the businesses of tomorrow will provide the basis for the economic growth that we all want to see in the UK,’ she said. ‘We want the UK to lead in clean energy, battery technology; innovation is the key to this.’

Onwurah also commended SCI for its focus on diversity in science. ‘The Leadership in Diversity Award is a recognition that the businesses will thrive with a diverse workforce, bringing in unique perspectives.’

Innovation Award Enabled by Partnership

Kicking off the presentations, the first award of the evening was the SCI Innovation Award Enabled by Partnership, which recognises the importance of collaboration in accelerating new ideas out of the lab and into society. The six finalists demonstrated collaboration in areas ranging from drug development to surfactants for low-temperature cleaning.

Presenting the award, Liz Rowsell, chief technology officer at Johnson Matthey, reflected on the challenges that the world and businesses are facing. ‘Johnson Matthey wants to achieve net-zero. But we can only do this if we can learn from others and share ideas,’ she noted.

SCI Innovation Enabled by Partnership 2nd runner-up

In third place, AstraZeneca, the University of Manchester and Prozomix, who jointly established the Centre for Biocatalytic Manufacture of New Modalities, which enables the manufacture of enzymes to be used as sustainable catalysts in the development of new medicines.

SCI Innovation Enabled by Partnership runner-up

Second place went to ETH Zürich , Synple Chem AG and the University of Edinburgh. Their project centres around a ‘vending machine for molecules – an automated synthesis console accelerating drug discovery’.

SCI Innovation Enabled by Partnership winner

Taking the top spot was GSK and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), for their work on identification of new antimalarials for the treatment of patients with uncomplicated malaria.

The other finalists were Dow and LanzaTech; Syngenta and Imperial College; and a UCB cross-departmental collaboration.

The Sustainability Award

All businesses are striving for sustainability, and science-based industries are the critical enablers at the heart of this push. The SCI Sustainability Award recognises the work being done in this area – and presenting the awards Harry Swan, CEO of Thomas Swan noted that sustainability had to be embraced in the science industries. ‘Sustainability is viewed in many ways, but for our industries it is a challenge that we must address,’ he said.

The top three spots for the SCI Sustainability Award were contested by five finalists.

SCI Sustainability award 2nd runner-up

Taking third place was Low Carbon Materials. The company, which in an earlier incarnation won SCI’s 2019 Bright SCIdea competition, has created a carbon-negative aggregate that can be incorporated into a variety of concrete applications to lower its carbon emissions.

SCI Sustainability award runner-up

In second place was Johnson Matthey, recycling the platinum group metals and valuable ionomers from fuel cells and water-electrolysers using its HyRefineTM technology.

SCI Sustainability award winner

In first place was Cargill for the development of a biodegradable alternative to petroleum jelly used in skincare and personal care products.

The other finalists were Kraton Polymers and the Tyre Collective.

Leadership in Diversity in Science-Led Industry Award

Diversity Equality and Inclusivity is a growing focus of businesses. The SCI Leadership in Diversity in Science-Led Industry Award, a new award, recognises an initiative led by an individual or team which has resulted in significant impact to encourage a more equal, diverse and inclusive workforce in science-led industry.

Presenting the award, Nicole Hamblin, Discovery and Early Development Officer, biotech in stealth mode, said, ‘Fostering an inclusive and collaborative culture is inspiring. This should be a hallmark of good leadership and practice.’

Leadership in Diversity 2nd runner-up

Sharing Third place were Johnson Matthey and UCB. Johnson Matthey was recognised for key initiatives such as the establishment of the Pride in JM LGBT+ Network Group, a focus on gender diversity in the JM Clean Air India Technology team, and the work of Simone Coultress who is driving inclusion at all levels. UCB was celebrated for the UpSkill Me and Work In Science Week initiatives, which provide opportunities for students from less advantaged backgrounds to explore careers in STEM.

Leadership in Diversity runner-up

Second place went to Synthomer, recognising the work and active role-modelling of Ana Peroni and Christophe Bartels, who have overseen the creation of several DE&I employee resource groups. It also recognised the establishment of the DE&I Ambassador Network in Asia and the Synthomer Inclusive Leadership Programme.

Leadership in Diversity winner

First place was awarded to Syngenta, recognising the work of Karine LeCoq and Catherine Waller, who have established a highly supportive and successful Neurodiversity Network at Syngenta’s site in Jealott’s Hill, providing practical adjustments for a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

The other finalists were UCB, Exscientia, and GSK.

The winners of the year


Also recognised on the night were AGregen, winner of BrightSCIdea 2024; Dr Emma Blackham of Sygnature Discovery, 2003 winner of SCI’s annual Young Chemist in Industry Award; and Dr Katharine Ingram from Syngenta, winner of the 2023 Chemist in Industry Award.

Young Chemist in Industry

Congratulating the winners, SCI president Paul Drechsler CBE spoke of the importance of collaboration and the achievements that can be realised by bringing together businesses and people with a wide set of skills and ideas.

‘We need collaboration between business, government, trade unions and civil society. If we can build this then we have fantastic potential to tackle the many challenges that we face as well as grow our economy,’ Drechsler said.

Chemist in Industry winner

SCI would like to thank Viscount Stansgate, Stephen Benn, the Organising Committee of the SCI Corporate Partner Network, led by chair Dr Harry Kelly and SCI’s Corporate Partners, who have supported and championed the event.

Special thanks also go to the SCI staff team led by Karen Hobbs, Head of Stakeholder Engagement and Bella Seymour, Conference Producer.

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