These Five Technologies Will Disrupt The Chemicals Industry

Jan. 18, 2021
The chemicals and materials enterprise will change dramatically over the next 20 years in response to trends like sustainability and digitalization.

Trends like sustainability and digitalization are going to dramatically change the chemicals and materials industry over the next 20 years. Investing in technology innovations will be critical for companies to keep up. So says Lux Research, a provider of tech-enabled research and advisory services, which released its annual report, “Foresight 2021: Top Emerging Technologies to Watch.”

The new research identifies and ranks 12 key technologies that will reshape the world. The technologies are chosen based on innovation interest scores from the Lux Tech Signal, a composite measure assembled from a variety of innovation data sources, along with input from Lux’s experts. In addition to highlighting the 12 key overall technologies, this year’s report ranks the top five technologies for the chemicals and materials industry.

“The impacts of climate change and digital transformation will be substantial – as the chemicals industry is forced to adapt to the circular economy, waste plastic will become the most valuable feedstock. This will create a more decentralized industry that relies increasingly on economies of multiples,” says Anthony Schiavo, senior analyst at Lux Research. “At the same time, digital sales platforms will commoditize customization, eroding the difference between specialty and commodity businesses.”

The top five technologies chemicals and materials leaders should look to in 2021 are:

1. Plastic Waste Recycling: As concerns about plastic waste rise, billions of dollars are at risk. Advanced recycling tech is necessary to tackle this issue and creates opportunities for higher-value products.

2. Materials Informatics: Applying machine learning to materials development can not only improve R&D cost and efficiency but also help enable new business models and greater agility.

3. Digital Sales Platforms: E-commerce and sales automation are coming to chemicals along with services around customization and product use.

4. 3D Printing: 3D printing provides material firms unique growth opportunities – but firms need to be prepared to move down the value chain to capture their share of profits.

5. Synthetic Biology: Synbio can boost sustainability claims but also enable more flexible, distributed production of chemicals and, in the right cases, can enable new markets and lower costs.

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