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Formulation Forum: Meet the experts

Formulation Forum Launch Event 2018 Wednesday 17 - Thursday 18 January 2018

20 Dec 2017

Formulation science is vast, covering areas of many disciplines, and is best described as the science of formulation. It is all science that relates to the design, performance, stability, testing and manufacture of formulations, from biology to mathematics, physics to biochemistry, chemistry to engineering to name but a few.

Formulation itself is the combination of a recipe and a process to produce a ‘product’ in a particular state. For example - a mixture of oil, water and emulsifiers can form an oil in water emulsion, a water in oil emulsion or even a nano-emulsion depending on the process, with each state having very different properties. For scientists with particular expertise, multiple emulsions and liposomes may even be achievable.

An important result of this is that the formulated product ideally has enhanced properties, sometimes dramatically enhanced, compared with the starting functional components, and this is one of the key objectives of designing formulations. If you can design a formulation that allows a functional component or active ingredient to perform at a new level of performance that is a remarkable achievement.

Many formulations are either ‘metastable’ systems or they undergo ‘dynamic’ processes during their application. Therefore, science areas related to ‘non-equilibrium’ systems and ‘dynamics of change’ are especially important. Understanding how to design functional intermediate ‘metastable arrested’ states along with understanding how these ‘metastable arrested’ states will change with time, temperature, stress or other external triggers is a key understanding. Important examples include soft matter, colloids and interfaces amongst many others.

As you may already know, the SCI Formulation Forum will officially be launched in January 2018 - so what better way to find out about formulation and the Formulation Forum than straight from its founding committee?

Click the names below to find out what each of these experts in industry and/or academia brings to this exciting new group, where businesses can openly discuss their needs with academia and formulation experts in a receptive, non-competitive environment – a place where opportunities and solutions to the needs of business can arise.

Malcolm Faers, Bayer AG
Chair of SCI Formulation Forum

Malcolm FaersMalcolm studied colloid science at Imperial College and is a Formulation Scientist with 30 years’ industrial formulation experience in coatings and crop protection. Areas of interest include the stability of colloidal suspensions, ageing of particle networks, rheology and enhancement of biodelivery of actives through formulation design. He has previously served on the SCI/RSC Colloids Group committee, co-organised several scientific conferences and is a Bayer Science Fellow.

What three things do you need to be successful in your job?
A creative mind, a good knowledge of the relevant science and motivation to design successful formulations.

What are you most passionate about within formulation science?
Discovering new innovations, understanding how they work scientifically and then applying them into new formulation designs to enhance their performance and properties.

What do you find most challenging about working in formulation?
Achieving something new and better – it is relatively easy to reproduce an existing formulation, for example with a new active ingredient, but to achieve something innovative and new is highly challenging since formulations are complex systems and improving one element can adversely affect other elements. To simultaneously improve many elements requires the ability to see through the complexity to understand how the dependencies of all the different elements are linked and how they can be utilised in the design of the formulation. The risk of failure is higher but the rewards of success are equally high.

What are your long-term aspirations for the SCI Formulation Forum?
I hope the Formulation Forum will enable many people in the formulation community to enhance their formulation expertise, make new connections, find new opportunities and contribute to the evolution and growth of ‘formulation science’ both in the UK and wider. I would also hope the Formulation Forum inspires students to gain awareness of ‘formulation’ as a rewarding career and a place where they can apply their scientific knowledge creatively. To be part of the FF is a unique opportunity to have in one’s career to contribute to the evolution and growth of ‘formulation science’.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in formulation?
Take every opportunity to learn about the science behind formulation (knowledge is very important), question what you see (e.g. why does my formulation do this?), always try new ideas and do not be afraid to make some mistakes, since this is how you will discover new things. It is also important not to forget the science behind your discoveries, since this is essential for understanding and then applying your discoveries.

Tiffany Wood, University of Edinburgh
Secretary of SCI Formulation Forum

Tiffany WoodTiffany runs the Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership (ECFP), which offers collaborative research and consultancy to industry, particularly in the area of formulation science. ECFP is embedded within the Soft Matter Physics group, with around 40 researchers covering experimental colloid science, rheology, characterisation, interface technology, protein behaviour, computer modelling of soft matter systems and the physics of microorganisms such as bacteria.  Additionally, Tiffany holds a Royal Society Industry Fellow and has an SCI-funded PhD studentship to examine colloid behaviour in liquid crystalline media.



Jim Bullock, iFormulate
Treasurer of SCI Formulation Forum

Jim BullockJim is a co-founder and director of iFormulate Ltd. Previously, Jim was CEO of Intelligent Formulation Ltd, which promoted formulation technology in the UK. After a DPhil from Oxford, Jim led R&D projects in imaging at Ilford Ltd and activities on crystal engineering and dye formulation and chemistry at ICI/Zeneca. At BASF, in the UK and Germany, Jim headed formulation development for colours and held marketing, strategy, R&D and regulatory affairs functions for BASF’s global biocides business. Jim was also a board director of Agion Technologies, USA.

How did you first become involved in formulation?
By chance, like many people. I had a background in materials science, physics and physical chemistry and I was working in industrial R&D jobs that had formulation as an important part of them. Gradually, I learned more about formulation until it became my full-time occupation.

What three things do you need to be successful in your job?
Understanding of industry needs and drivers, a good scientific understanding of formulated products and process technology, and a really extensive scientific and business network.

What has surprised you most about working in formulation?
There are always opportunities to take ideas and technologies from one industry and apply them to another – there is a lot to learn across industries such as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, cosmetics, detergents, inks, coatings, and food.

What do you wish people knew about working in formulation?
It is scientific, not witchcraft, and the complexity can be managed. It is a great career to get involved in because you can see the results of your work – almost every formulator can point to a number of commercial products that they have helped to develop.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in formulation?
Observe, listen and learn. At the same time, get ‘hands-on’ as often as possible. And make sure you get out of the lab, to conferences and events where you can build a network and learn from others.

Jade Owen, Intertek Melbourn
Communications Officer of SCI Formulation Forum

Jade OwenJade successfully runs her own LinkedIn community for ICP-OES and ICP-MS analyses, which now has over 9,000 members. From this she has contributed to the social media strategy for SCI’s Agrisciences committee and she plans to do the same with the Formulation Forum. Jade works as a method development and validation scientist at Intertek Melbourn. The company works on a wide variety of pharmaceutical products and specialises in inhalation medicines and has a formulation laboratory.

What three things do you need to be successful in your job?
Technical knowledge, willingness to learn, and persistence.

What are you most proud of so far in your career?
Working with the team to help test athletes in the London 2012 Olympics and being able to attend parliament via SCI to ask MPs about the future of science.

What has surprised you most about working in formulation?
How many aspects of science it draws on in order to figure out an issue, and how a ‘simple’ issue can actually be rather complex.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in formulation?
Learn as much as you can and get as much hands-on experience as you can.

Richard Greenwood, University of Birmingham
Committee member of SCI Formulation Forum

Richard is EngD Programme Manager at the Centre for Formulation Engineering, School of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham since 2001 and Member of SCI’s Colloid and Surface Chemistry Committee.

What three things do you need to be successful in your job?
Excellent organisational skills, very good knowledge of colloid science and a good network of contacts.

What are you most proud of so far in your career?
Meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace when we won the Queens Prize for the University.

What has surprised you most about working in formulation?
The breath of the subject – one day I am talking detergents with Procter & Gamble, and the next turbine blades with Rolls-Royce or catalysts with Johnson Matthey.

What do you find most challenging about working in formulation?
Initially it was raising awareness of the subject area, but now it is the contract process!

Andrew Howe, Aqdot Ltd
Committee member of SCI Formulation Forum

Andrew HoweAndrew brings science-based formulation expertise from major multinational, through university to SME. He has designed material compositions (polymer, surfactant, colloid) to achieve optimal properties in product and process. Andrew’s experience includes 20 years at Kodak (photographic, inkjet materials), five years at Schlumberger (drilling fluids, enhanced oil recovery), visiting researcher at Cambridge University (since 2009, giving lectures on rheology of suspensions and on surfactants), and most recently at Aqdot, an SME spun out from the University of Cambridge, that uses host-guest complexation for purposes of encapsulation and release of materials.

What do you need to be successful in your job?
A scientific approach, but pragmatic and to understand the real issue(s).

What has surprised you most about working in formulation?
How what one thinks should be simple so often turns out to be very complex. It all looks so easy on paper!

What are the most critical problems faced by people in your field?
Downgrading of science in industry. And a failure of industry to contribute to the scientific community.

What are your long-term aspirations for the SCI Formulation Forum?
We can help the scientific community to succeed, enjoy, and take pride in their work through interactions with their academic and industrial peers and the funding agencies.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in formulation?
Try to maintain your scientific interest and expertise - talk with academics and your counterparts in other industry sectors.

Craig Duckham, CD R&D Consulting
Committee member of SCI Formulation Forum

Craig DuckhamAfter nine years working in microencapsulation contract development and technology transfer, Craig formed his own consultancy services company in 2012. CD R&D Consultancy Services operates across multiple sectors and provides long- and short-term technical support and know-how to both mature and developing businesses. Craig has a background in plant and crop sciences and analytical chemistry, and has worked on projects including the controlled release of food flavours and crop protection active ingredients. Craig is a Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) and a Member of the Royal Society of Biology, with a PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of Nottingham. He is also Chair of SCI’s Food Committee.

What are you most proud of so far in your career?
Seeing the fruits of my research activities emerging into the marketplace as successful products.

What are you most excited about within formulation science?
At the moment, it is the developments in analytical tools that are emerging to measure the performance of micro- and nanoencapsulated materials.

What do you wish people knew about working in formulation?
How transferable formulation skills and experience are.

The interest in formulation science seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
The regulatory and health environment has shifted towards solvent/additive-free systems, be it in paint or coatings, inks, food and beverages – there is a move to free-from and ‘natural’ products. These changes provide significant formulation challenges.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in formulation?
Learn the fundamentals at the earliest opportunity.

Neil Campbell, Sagentia Ltd
Committee Member of SCI Formulation Forum

Neil CampbellNeil has over 20 years of experience in the development of formulation and process science products across a wide variety of industries including pharmaceutical, catalysis, personal care and beauty, pest control, home care and hygiene, surfactants, polymers, electronics materials, inks and dyes, and food and beverages. He has designed and helped to build a number of multimillion-pound advanced R&D centres including the Centre for Materials Discovery in Liverpool. He has also developed and implemented a number of techniques and pieces of equipment with major suppliers for high-throughput research in the area of formulation and process development from laboratory to scale up to reduce product time to market.

Neil is currently Global VP for FMCG/CPG Business Development at Sagentia Ltd in Cambridge, Neil also helps CPG companies around the world with their corporate R&D strategy and innovating with and around their formulation products.

What three things do you need to be successful in your job?
Listen and learn from others, clients, colleagues, consumers, and industrial experts about what the market wants. A free mind to innovate – don’t get bogged down by process. Ability to build trusted long-term relationships with clients built on mutual trust, and a proven track record of delivering what you say you will.

What has surprised you most about working in formulation?
The lack of fundamental understanding of how products work and the major lack of innovation and investment in the laboratory equipment, practices and training of staff in industry and academia.

What do you find most challenging about working in formulation?
Getting companies to invest in this area, as formulation has always been and afterthought for most companies.

What are your long-term aspirations for the SCI Formulation Forum?
To form a central network between academia and industries to share best practice and strengthen the UK’s formulation science capabilities to become a global leader in this area.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in formulation?
Get a broad knowledge of the fundamentals of process science, colloid chemistry, automation and surface science.

Robin Harrison, Synthomer
Committee member of SCI Formulation Forum

Robin HarrisonRobin is the Global Innovation Director at Synthomer, with overall responsibility for group R&D strategy and product and polymer technology development activities at the company’s research centres in Europe, Asia and the USA. He has close to 20 years’ experience of polymer chemistry with a focus on application areas such as coatings, adhesives, textiles and paper, where formulation technology is central to developing industrially relevant systems. Robin obtained his PhD from the University of Sussex in Organic & Polymer Chemistry and carried out postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado, USA, and the IRC in Polymer Science & Technology in Durham, UK. He has extensive international experience and has spent over 10 years living in the USA and The Netherlands.



Carl Formstone, Syngenta
Committee member of SCI Formulation Forum

Carl FormstoneCarl's background is as a chemistry graduate, working as a formulation chemist in the UK near Bracknell and now leading a colloid science team at the Jealott’s Hill Research Station for Syngenta. He has had 25 years of experience in the crop protection industry across a range of diverse projects and his main focus has been herbicidal agents at different stages of development, from discovery to scale-up and manufacture.

What are you most proud of so far in your career?
Glyphosate herbicide formulations used all round the world.

What do you find most challenging about working in formulation?
The risk of things going wrong – after all, our formulations are often meta-stable in their inherent behaviour.

What are the most critical problems faced by people in your field?
Meeting challenging timelines for new products and ensuring good product quality to avoid expensive mistakes.

The interest in formulation science seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
It is a well-established way to add value to existing active ingredients.

James Humphrey, Croda
Committee member of SCI Formulation Forum

James obtained an MChem at the University of Hull in 2007 and started work at Croda (Snaith, East Yorkshire, UK) in the same year. James’ work at Croda has focused on formulating, with Croda’s current range of surfactants, oils and other specialty chemicals used in formulated products from paints to pharmaceuticals to engine lubricants. James leads the new surfactant and formulation development teams for Personal Care, focusing on formulation science to develop new green and sustainable surfactants. More recently, James has switched focus to the understanding and development of excipients for the pharmaceutical sector, with particular interest on the role of the excipient type and quality on the stability and delivery of drugs in injectable, topical and oral dosage forms.

What three things do you need to be successful in your job?
Understanding the fundamental science of colloid and surfactant science in real life; being able to imagine what your molecules are doing; and tenacity – formulation always means lots of experiments.

What are you most passionate about within formulation science?
On the face of it, formulation is very simple – we mix some ingredients via a recipe to make what we want. However, the slightest variations in processing, ingredient quality, fractions of a percent of an impurity can change everything. Understanding all of that is a constant learning experience, but with a good scientific understanding you can learn what is going on – although there is always another challenge around the corner.

What are the most critical problems faced by people in your field?
Finding the useful middle ground to do good practical science that isn’t over idealised academic conditions and overly variable industrial conditions – good science, offering functional solutions.

What are your long-term aspirations for the SCI Formulation Forum?
To increase the talk around formulation between academia and industry and increase the understanding of what formulation is in the under-grade post-grade level in the academic world – and to produce more formulators that think scientifically.

The interest in formulation science seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
I think formulation has often been considered a ‘black art’, because it’s difficult to understand cause and effect(s). The science and analytical techniques are catching up so real industrial formulations can be characterised. More and more, formulation becomes a science and less an art.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in formulation?
The same as any science – do, observe, think, understand, and solve.

Neil Simpson, OMG Brochers GmbH
Committee Member of SCI Formulation Forum

Neil SimpsonNeil joined OMG Borchers as R&D Manager in 2014 and is now responsible for managing teams and coordinating collaborations globally for the development of additives for the CASE markets. Prior to joining OMG, he was part of the team that launched a company called Hydra Polymers from Unilever; working in a venture capital environment as Head of Technical Development, developing and leading collaborative projects for a variety of markets including inks, coatings, water treatment and oilfield. His technical background is in synthetic polymer chemistry, where his research interests in catalytic transformations, controlled polymer architecture and dendritic structures were applied to areas such as resin development, conducting polymers, hydrogels and ‘green’ polymerisation. A particular achievement was to be a pioneer in creating semi-crystalline thiol-ene networks, made possible by utilising enzymatic catalysis. He has a PhD from the University of Stratchlyde and won the North West SCI (graduate) Award in 2002.

Paul Bartlett, University of Bristol
Committee Member of SCI Formulation Forum

Paul has a wide experience in soft matter science with particular interests in colloids, polymers, and surfactants. His expertise spans the development and application of quantitative techniques (such as laser trapping, confocal microscopy, rheology, and scattering methods) to problems in soft matter science. His goal is to understand how the structure and dynamics at a mesoscopic scale dictate the bulk physical properties of soft materials. Paul has collaborated with a wide range of industrial partners (Bayer, GSK, Merck, Syngenta, and Unilever) and worked at ICI for a few years.

What three things do you need to be successful in your job?
A tendency not to believe what I’m told, a willingness to play, and persistence.

What has surprised you most about working in formulation?
The fact that formulations with twenty-odd components ever work.

What are the most critical problems faced by people in your field?
Finding problems that can be usefully simplified so the essence may be better understood.

Jason Tierney, Discovery, Charles River Laboratories
Committee Member of SCI Formulation Forum

Jason has almost 20 years’ experience as a medicinal chemist in drug discovery, with multiple patents and publications. He is currently a Principal Scientist and Project Leader in Medicinal Chemistry at Discovery from Charles River. Previously, Jason was a Team Leader in Medicinal Chemistry at GSK from 2002, and prior to that at Organon Research from 1997 as a Senior Chemist. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, in the lab of Prof Alex Alexakis between 1995 and 1997. Jason obtained his PhD in Organic Chemistry at Imperial College, London. He is also a member of the SCI Fine Chemicals Group and has an interest in the impact of formulation on drug delivery. He is also the Chair of the UK Automated Synthesis Forum and the UK Automated Synthesis Forum.

Colin Bain, Durham University
Committee Member of SCI Formulation Forum

Colin Bain completed a BA in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in Physical Chemistry at Harvard University under the supervision of Prof George Whitesides. His research lies at the intersection of physical chemistry with physics, engineering, and biology. While broadly in the field of ‘wet surface chemistry’, his interests range from the break-up of jets to drying of droplets on surfaces; from phase transitions to adsorption kinetics; from tertiary oil recovery to model cell membranes. His research has been recognised by both national and international awards. He served for 12 years on the Editorial Advisory Board of Langmuir and was a founding editor of Soft Matter. He has published over 160 papers with more than 12,000 external citations.

What do you need to be successful in your job?
The ability to analyse the cause of problems and to recognise the interests of all relevant stakeholders when developing solutions to those problems. The ability to explain complex ideas in simple terms. And fairness, transparency and impartiality.

What do you find most challenging about working in formulation?
The strong coupling between different physical phenomena and chemical components.

What do you wish other people knew about working in formulation?
It’s not bucket chemistry. There are real fundamental scientific questions that are worth answering.

The interest in formulation science seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
The need to add value to compete against commodity producers – smart formulation is one way of doing that. Regulation means that manufacturers need to understand how their products work and what the ingredients do, as it’s hard to replace a regulated chemical if you don’t know how it works. There’s a convergence of interests – industry is more willing to invest in a basic understanding of formulated products, and academia more able to study complex systems that are of relevance to industrial processes.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in formulation?
Make sure you understand thermodynamics.

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