‘Permacrisis’ is Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2022. It describes the ongoing uncertainty felt by many as a result of today’s major challenges: the effects of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis, sustainability and the climate emergency, as well as political instability.

In what can feel like an era of growing divisions, there must surely be one consensus: the world needs solutions. And for solutions, we need problem solvers.

In science, problem solving has always been central to innovation and discovery. Obstacles and challenges are regular features on the road to scientific breakthrough, and overcoming them isn’t always easy. To enable scientific advances, balancing critical and creative thinking is key, and the importance of time, resource and collaboration cannot be ignored.

In this edition of Chemistry World and Notch Communications’ digital supplement, we speak to leading scientific problem solvers who are providing solutions for some of our world’s greatest challenges.

XueJing Zheng, analytical chemistry manager, and Toni Rantanen, quality manager, share Toronto Research Chemicals’ approach to chemical problem solving in the production of reliable impurity reference standards, highlighting the importance of conducting science for a safer world. Paul Ticehurst, senior business development manager from Johnson Matthey Catalyst Technologies, talks us through how JM’s innovative technology is enabling sustainable fuel production and transforming the industry. From Tim Kemp, chief technical officer, and Rory O’Donnell, database manager at Apollo Scientific, we hear about the ways to maintain supply chain integrity and meet sustainability targets in the post-pandemic landscape.

Christophe Le Ret, global marketing manager at Umicore looks at how innovative precious metals and industrial catalysts are facilitating novel technologies to support sustainable chemistry. And last but most certainly not least, with ever more stringent regulations and complexity in our digitalised age, how can scientists find time for science? Bimini Cunningham, OneSource professional services line leader from PerkinElmer, shares five top tips to enhance lab productivity.