This year, DPI’s Annual Meeting was a special occasion. It marked the institute’s twentieth anniversary. The event took place on 7 and 8 November and the venue, fittingly, was the Pullman Hotel in Eindhoven. It was here that, twenty years ago, the kick off meeting was held for the establishment of DPI as one of the first Leading Technology Institutes in the Netherlands.
The anniversary event was well attended, with nearly 200 participants from across the world gathered at the hotel. DPI had drawn up a varied programme comprising research review meetings, poster sessions, keynote speakers, as well as a book launch.
Young DPI Meeting
In a parallel session in the afternoon of 7 November, some 25 young researchers gathered for the Young DPI Meeting – a traditional DPI activity which for various reasons had not taken place during the last two years. The participants were scientists who had started working on a DPI project in the past academic year. The idea was to give the young researchers an opportunity to get to know one another in an informal “fun” setting. This year, DPI had invited a juggler, who inspired and challenged the participants to exercise their skills at keeping balls up in the air, both individually and collectively.
In keeping with tradition, a Conference Dinner was held on the evening of the first day. It offered the guests – some 125 people from a variety of companies and universities – the opportunity to get to know one another in an informal setting while enjoying the delicacies served up by the Pullman Hotel kitchen staff.
As in the previous years, the annual meeting gave scientists working on DPI projects an opportunity to present their research by means of posters and compete for the DPI Poster Award. In a departure from usual practice, all attendees of the annual meeting were invited to rate the posters. The first prize was awarded to Georgios Vogiatzis for his poster entitled “Physical aging of polymers: a molecular perspective”. The second prize went to Apostolos Vagias (“Depth-resolved exploration of film quality in waterborne coatings (INCOAT)”) and the third prize to Majid Moeinifard (“Micro-mechanical modelling of semi-crystalline α-iPP”).
The morning programme of Wednesday 8 November was devoted to the celebration of DPI’s Twentieth Anniversary. To mark the occasion, Jacques Joosten, Managing Director of DPI, took the audience on a virtual tour of DPI’s history, highlighting the various milestones and achievements that had contributed to DPI’s reputation as the best practice in collaborative research.
Two keynote speakers had been invited: Prof. Stefan Mecking, of the University of Konstanz (Germany), whose topic was “Unconventional Polymer Architectures and Nanostructures from Functional Group Tolerant Catalysis” and Prof. Emmo Meijer, figurehead of the Chemicals Top Sector in the Netherlands, who spoke on the subject of the “Chemical Industry in Transition”. Prof. Meijer stressed the importance of collaboration within what he called the Golden Triangle of government, industry and science. Only through proactive concerted efforts will it be possible to work towards sustainability and address today’s key domains such as health and aging.
DPI Golden Thesis Award: a retrospective
Although the DPI Golden Thesis Award was not presented this year, it featured prominently in a retrospective session that was kicked off by Prof. Thijs Michels, Former Scientific Chair of DPI, with a talk entitled “How can industry-driven research produce world-class science?”. As part of the retrospective, a former winner of the Golden Thesis Award, Dr. Casper van Oosten of Merck Window Technologies, reported on the current status of his award winning research in a talk entitled “Responsive Liquid Crystal Networks – 8 Years Further”.
The afternoon programme of 8 November was devoted to the launch of the book The Plastics Revolution: How the Netherlands Became a Global Player in Plastics. The book is an initiative of DPI and is published under the auspices of the Foundation for the History of Technology (SHT). It provides a historical overview of the invention and development of plastics during the past hundred years and the important role Dutch science and industry have played in the process.
The first copies of the book were presented to three prominent people who have played an important role in the plastics industry. Ger Challa, Professor emeritus of Polymer Chemistry and Technology at the University of Groningen. He is an eminent scientist whose work has had a major impact on chemistry and plastics. Jan Zuidam, Former Vice Chairman of the executive board of Royal DSM and Former chairman of VNCI, the Association of the Dutch Chemical Industry. He played an important role in the establishment of DPI. Klaas Kuin, former member of VNO-NCW, the largest employers’ organisation in the Netherlands. He was also the Founder and former member of the Supervisory Board of DPI and Former manager of the Océ Research Department.
Besides highlighting the profound impact that plastics have had on human life, the book also pays attention to the current social debate on plastics and sustainability and the need for a transition to more sustainable scenarios. In his presentation on the occasion, the lead author of the book, Emeritus Professor Harry Lintsen of Eindhoven University of Technology, spoke of the imminence of a “second” plastics revolution as a stepping stone to such a transition.
Transition was in fact the subject of the final talk of the day, by Prof. Johan Schot, director of the internationally renowned Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) and Professor in History of Technology and Sustainability Transition Studies at the University of Sussex (UK). According to Prof. Schot, if the plastics industry wants to make the transition needed it should itself take the lead rather than wait and be led by changes in other sectors.
To go by the enthusiastic reactions of the guests during the drinks and snacks at the end of the day, this special combination of Annual Meeting and Anniversary Event was a great success.
Dr. Casper van Oosten - Merck Window Technologies