Padma Vibhushan Prof M M Sharma unveils

Excerpt: was unveiled by Prof M M Sharma in a function attended by over 60 industry leaders at The Leela, Mumbai on August 24, 2017. was unveiled by Padma Vibhushan Prof M M Sharma, FRS in a function at The Leela, Mumbai on August 24, 2017 to the enthusiastic reception of over 60 business leaders in the Chemical Industry.

The proceedings began with a welcome address by Dilip Raghavan, co-founder of Dilip recalled his family’s 3 generations of service to the chemical industry through publications such as Paintindia, Colourage and Popular Plastics and Packaging and trade events such as Paintindia exhibition, HPCI exhibition and several other. That service continues, now also through the digital medium on which will be a comprehensive platform for much of what the chemical industry needs to do better. Dilip recalled Prof Sharma’s stellar service to the chemical industry through his thought leadership on various technical and business matters and his role in the academia and industry for over 5 decades, and invited him to deliver his keynote address on “The next wave of innovation in the chemical industry”.

Prof Sharma started by congratulating the co-founders of, Dilip Raghavan and Punit Krishna on this initiative which he felt has a great future. Speaking on the next wave of innovations in the chemical industry, Prof Sharma said that the chemical industry has a rich tradition of innovation which will continue in the future as well. In the past, process changes have changed the fundamentals of business, e.g. the new process of making Acrylonitrile from Propylene led to the drop in its price from 33 cents to 11 cents a pound, making plants based on old technology obsolete unusable. Prof Sharma outlined several areas in which he expected to see path breaking innovation in the future. Catalytic naphtha cracking could improve the yield significantly. New IOC technology of catalytic cracking has already taken the Propylene yield to 20% which can go up further while the current yield in the Jamnagar plant of Reliance is only 11%. He expects improved energy performance in synthesis of ammonia as well as distributed ammonia plant structure where solar energy could be used to get Hydrogen through electrolysis and converted to ammonium phosphate reducing capital costs drastically. Underground gasification of coal was another opportunity that could bring handsome rewards. Extensive use of membrane technology and nano-filtration will be used in processes to drive superior energy efficiency and greater yield of active molecules. Natural gas hydrates whose reserves are far in excess of natural gas can be expected to be harnessed through depressurization. Electrosynthesis and bio-transformation are other areas that will see a lot of development and bringing radical improvements. Prof Sharma concluded that digital adoption will help companies do better, lauded the initiative and concluded by wishing success to the initiative.

Prof Sharma’s erudite speech was followed by a Panel Discussion on “ Digital transformation in the chemical industry” which was moderated by Dilip Raghavan, Co-founder and Director of The panel comprised:

  1. Dr. Raman Ramachandran, CMD – BASF India

  2. Mr. Adnan Ahmad, MD – Clariant India

  3. Mr. Aashish Kshetry, VP – Asian Paints

  4. Mr. M. Ramesh, Director - McKinsey and Company

  5. Mr. Sandeep Singhal, MD - Nexus Venture Partners

  6. Dr. A K Suresh, Dy. Director – IIT, Mumbai

  7. Mr. Punit Krishna, Co-founder & CEO –

Mr. Krishna started the Group Discussion defining digital transformation as the substantive adoption of a combination of internet, hardware, software and telecom technologies that has seen rapid advances in the last few decades creating multiple opportunities for companies to improve internal operations, customer engagement and business models to serve better and create value for the enterprise. Dr Ramachandran outlined the digital initiatives BASF has taken, such as connecting the R&D globally and commissioning a supercomputer for the enterprise. They are also seeing benefits through initiatives on safe transport of hazardous materials and maintenance of equipment in factories. Mr Ahmad talked about transformation meaning different things to different people but it must be jaw-dropping in impact. He gave examples of how transportation and leisure is being redefined thought digital and felt the industry should go more and more digital to drive value and benefits which are now possible with digital technologies. Asian Paints have always been a pioneer in digital adoption and gained from it Mr. Kshetry outlined the things they are doing and gaining from. Mr Mangaleswaran highlighted the need for being conscious of what works and what sometimes could work against the company goals in adopting digital technologies and therefore have a clear vision of what is to be done and choose initiatives that are likely to give early and substantive results. He felt change management is important and must be considered carefully. Mr. Singhal felt transformation of mindset is the first step in digital transformation and gave the example of which wanted to change the way travel booking is done rather than digitize the then process of ticket book. Dr. Suresh talked about digital initiatives for the academia and interaction with the industry. The discussion concluded with Mr. Krishna advocated a platform approach for digital transformation on which multiple digital initiatives could be added and adopted as and when needed. A platform which will have all the information, curated and customized, all the people with whom interactions are required and all the solutions the business needs to do things well. is intended to be that platform for the chemical industry. Starting with insights, intelligence and advertising, it will add new services and solutions required by the industry.

The panel discussion was followed by the formal unveiling of by Prof M M Sharma, and a demo of the features and functionalities by Punit Krishna, CEO and Saurabh Sinha, CTO. Dilip Raghavan , Co-founder and Director of proposed a vote of thanks after which the audience comprising over 60 industry leaders from the chemical industry networked over dinner.

The industry leaders much appreciated and felt this was an initiative whose time had come.

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