AIChE Honors Corporate Leaders for Innovation

November 29, 2016
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Gala lauds 3M, BASF, and Biogen; celebrate Hoover Medal recipient and biotech pioneer Robert Langer of MIT

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) honored 3M, BASF, and Biogen, along with those companies’ leaders, for exemplary achievements in innovation at an awards gala held in New York City on Monday, November 28.

3M, and the company’s Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer Inge G. Thulin, were recognized for innovation that applies science to meet consumer and business needs. BASF Corporation, represented at the gala by Teressa Szelest, President of Market and Business Development North America, was saluted for innovation that creates chemistry to enhance every day life. Biogen, represented by George A. Scangos, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, was honored for innovations that lead to transformative treatments for patients.

The gala also celebrated the innovative work of biotechnology pioneer Robert S. Langer, who received the 2015 Hoover Medal, a prize sponsored by U.S. engineering societies and given to an engineer whose professional achievements and personal endeavors have advanced the well-being of humankind. Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is renowned for his groundbreaking accomplishments in drug delivery and tissue engineering for regenerative medicine.

In accepting the Hoover Medal, Langer reflected on the tentative progress and occasional setbacks he encountered as a young chemical engineer in the 1970s, searching for a niche where he could combine his interests in biology and engineering to create new healthcare options. Langer’s patents have since been translated into more than 100 pharmaceutical and biomedical products that are improving, and often saving, peoples’ lives. “Today, more than ever before, I think we are poised, as engineers, to bring engineering into new disciplines, and to train students and create new companies and products that can truly change the world,” Langer said.

According to AIChE Executive Director June C. Wispelwey, the gala raised nearly $400,000 to support AIChE’s programs to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship among chemical engineering students and professionals. “The spirit of innovation — and the engineering know-how to translate innovations into useful processes and products — are the ways that engineers conquer the grand challenges that face us in food, water, energy, and healthcare,” said Wispelwey.

The gala supports the initiatives of the AIChE Foundation and its Doing a World of Good campaign, and will fund the international growth of AIChE’s undergraduate Chem-E-Car Competition®, a “futures” program for high-achieving young researchers, and the development of a new program that fosters manufacturing innovation through modular chemical process intensification.

The gala’s dinner chairs were Mo Hossain, Managing Partner and Founder of Ennovance Capital; Rosalind Hudnell, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Intel; Ashish K. Khandpur, Senior Vice President of Research and Development, and Chief Technology Officer, 3M; Andreas C. Kramvis, Vice Chairman, Honeywell; Paul McKenzie, Executive Vice President for Pharmaceutical Operations and Technology, Biogen; Teressa Szelest, President of Market and Business Development North America, BASF Corporation; John Y. Televantos, Partner, Arsenal Capital Partners; and S. Shariq Yosufzai, Vice President for Global Diversity, Ombuds, and University Affairs, Chevron Corporation.

The gala’s dinner chairs were Mo Hossain, Managing Partner and Founder of Ennovance Capital; Rosalind Hudnell, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Intel; Ashish K. Khandpur, Senior Vice President of Research and Development, and Chief Technology Officer, 3M; Andreas C. Kramvis, Vice Chairman, Honeywell; Paul McKenzie, Executive Vice President for Pharmaceutical Operations and Technology, Biogen; Teressa Szelest, President of Market and Business Development North America, BASF Corporation; John Y. Televantos, Partner, Arsenal Capital Partners; and S. Shariq Yosufzai, Vice President for Global Diversity, Ombuds, and University Affairs, Chevron Corporation.

In presenting the award to 3M and Thulin — represented at the gala by Ashish Khandpur — Yosufzai commended the company for its high ethical standards and investment in research and development. “3M’s achievements as a global leader in innovation have long been recognized by Fortune and many others,” said Yosufzai. He added, “the company’s ‘innovation mindset’ has established a record of highly successful products and industry best practices.”

Hossain introduced the award for BASF, saying, “BASF’s innovations are all around us” — from lightweight plastics to building materials to technologies for energy efficient vehicles. He added that the company invests its efforts not only in “the little things that make life easier, but also in the biggest, most critical challenges, such as innovations that improve water supplies and agricultural productivity around the world.”

Televantos honored Biogen and Scangos for the company’s mission, which has made “a meaningful difference in the lives of patients with few or no treatment options.” As an example, Televantos noted, “Biogen’s medicines currently treat more than 38 percent of all multiple sclerosis patients globally, and the company is now working to develop next-generation therapies that may repair or reverse the course of the disease.” He added that Biogen is also developing new therapies for such neurological and neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s, spinal muscular atrophy, Parkinson’s, and ALS — or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

For more information on AIChE’s 2016 Annual Gala, its sponsors, or for photographs of the event, visit www.aiche.org/gala.

About AIChE: AIChE is a professional society of more than 53,000 chemical engineers in 110 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontier of chemical engineering research in such areas as nanotechnology, sustainability, hydrogen fuels, biological and environmental engineering, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at www.aiche.org.