Well, the reception was delightful. The food was excellent and the wine got good reviews. But before the eating and drinking came the speeches by chemistry worthies from across the continent. Generally, they were short and expressed pleasure in European chemistry coming together in this conference, and in the umbrella organization, EuCheMS. The MS on the end stands for “molecular science,” and is part of a decided emphasis on the molecule which seems to me to be a bit of an attempt to grab more territory for the field.
Peter Elvending, the head of the European Chemical Industry Council gave a short presentation on the stiff competition facing its members, especially from the East. The solution, he says, is innovation. “This old continent currently does not stand up to competition,” he said. “It is very important that we get our act together in the European Union.”
The same sentiment was expressed at a press conference for SusChem, the group of chemical companies, chemists and governments trying to shape the research agenda for Europe. “Commodities will be made elsewhere,” said Alfred Oberholz, head of the scheme, “we must have innovation and sustainability.”
The research the group thinks is worth doing will cost 1,400 million euros a year, half to be supplied by governments and half by industry. I am not sure yet how that compares to the current figures. Their goal is to get the plan linked into the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme, which is no doubt being hammered out in smoke-filled rooms even as we speak.
If you want to see if your pet project is one of the SusChem fave raves, check out their draft at http://www.suschem.org/.
Oh, one last thing about the reception: it’s one thing to present musicians in Hungarian costume and young men in tight crimson trousers pirouetting with gals decked out like the St. Pauly girl, but give your guests a drink before rather than after.
[reprinted from the Nature Newsblog – see all reports from the congress here: http://blogs.nature.com/news/blog/conference_reports/european_chemistry_congress/]