Shortlist announced for Chemistry World prize

Two leading lights in the commercialisation of research in chemical science have been short-listed for the inaugural Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year award, to be announced in January.

Kevin Matthews, chief executive officer of Oxford, UK-based nanomaterials company Oxonica, is credited with transforming the company into one of Europe’s leading nanotechnology companies, concentrating on delivering a customer-focused portfolio based on its expertise in materials science innovation.

In 2001, the year Matthews took up his ceo position, David Haddleton founded Coventry-based Warwick Effect Polymers, a company with patents in the area of controlled radical polymerisation, which enables it to nano-engineer novel designer polymers. Matthews is credited as the driving force behind the company’s substantial technical progress and the development of its research team.

Both short-listed candidates welcome the award as a means to raise the profile of entrepreneurial activity among chemical scientists.

Traditionally, the industry has been dominated by big pharma. This new award, agree both Matthews and Haddleton, serves to alert people to the exciting possibilities outside that tradition, ’to encourage other chemists to be entrepreneurial,’ Matthews told Chemistry World. The life sciences have had the run on start-ups recently, he says, but nanotechnology looks well placed to change that. And the same is true for polymer science.

’The chemical industry is evolving to embrace many focused SMEs in a shift away from multinational conglomerates dominating the industry,’ said Haddleton. ’There are many excellent employment opportunities for our graduates in this fast moving sector,’ he said.

The winner will be announced at Burlington House, London, on 20 January 2004.

Bea Perks