Growth drivers and innovative technologies have been in the spotlight on the final day of gasworld’s Europe Industrial Gas Conference, as the curtain falls on the company’s third event to be held in the continent.

Hosted at the Hilton Hotel in Düsseldorf, Germany, over 180 delegates from 28 countries have enjoyed a cutting-edge agenda over the past two days, with speeches from industry insiders and 29 promotional booths on display.

Whilst day one of the conference set the scene with general market updates and an exploration of Europe’s hot topics, day two examined the growth drivers and innovative technologies that are essential to carve out growth in today’s European market.

The growth drivers

The SOL Group Chairman and Managing Director, Aldo Fumagalli, ASCO Director of Sales & Engineering, Marius Gorczyca, EHA Chairman, Ian Williamson and Air Liquide Advanced Technologies GmbH Director, Antoine Mazas, all took to the stage to discuss healthcare and homecare, carbon dioxide (CO2) applications driving growth in Europe, the hydrogen (H2) economy and supply chain, and the environment and technologies, respectively. 

Fumagalli kicked-off day two’s presentations and opened, “We are currently experiencing five macro trends; life expectancy is continuing to rise, new expensive drugs are coming out and pushing up spending in pharmaceuticals, private spending remains high, the quality of care is not improving fast enough creating added demand, and finally, the current economic crisis in Europe is having an impact on health.”

Fumagalli explained that, in order to take advantage of these current growth drivers, companies within the industrial gas industry, “Need to have technological support, we must provide an efficient logistics support and we need to put a lot of money into technology. Those trends means that we must be ready to supply new products.”

       

He also referred, as many keynotes have during the conference, to the rising impact of digitisation and stated, “There will be an acceleration in technological developments shifting into so many other applications – we must be able to match these, which is a big opportunity for industrial gas industries to play a role in the homecare market.”

The stage was then set for Gorczyca to outline the main CO2 applications driving growth across the continent. After revealing that greenhouse applications and a trend for recovery processes was taking centre stage in the CO2 production sector, he emphasised that decentralisation is also playing a vital role in carving out growth, “The decentralisation of dry ice production and liquid CO2 production means that we are seeing reliable and sustainable bulk CO2 delivery for the local market instead of traditional, huge production plants.”

This will drive change in how we will see the world which will come back to the industrial gas industry at a rate of knots – but I’m not so sure the industry is ready for it

Ian Williamson, EHA Chairman

“From our point of view, increasing trends for recovery projects, dry ice applications and the need for carbon footprint reduction is still growing.”

Williamson switched the focus with a powerful speech on the rapidly evolving H2 economy, “Transportation changes have been made within a single decade – even gasoline competed for man’s quest for mobility before it became to be the fuel that we all know and love – and that’s what we are doing today; making the change from one existing energy system to another. You will see H2-powered cars out on the road in the next five years.”

Explaining technological developments, Williamson said, “Fuel cells are finally getting to a point where they are finding their terrestrial home. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ scenario – there are different types of technology that have been developed for specific applications. Approximately 95% of fuel cells on the market today come from just 20 companies – so the future for these tech businesses is expected to grow in a big way.”

He outlined Korea’s influence in leading the impending fuel cell vehicle (FCV) mania, stating that companies in Europe were finally beginning to take notice but also cautioned, “This will drive change in how we will see the world which will come back to the industrial gas industry at a rate of knots – but I’m not so sure the industry is ready for it.”

Mazas, who was the final speaker in session three, offered insights into the environmental factors and technologies currently shaping the European market, which he identified as the energy and ecological transition, changes in healthcare and, once again, digitisation.

Innovative technologies

Following a tasty lunch and time to explore the 29 booths on offer, the final session of the conference drew the curtain on gasworld’s Europe Industrial Conference 2016, focusing on innovative technologies and the opportunities for future inventive development.

Speakers included:

Echoing the theme, Mortensen highlighted two major means in which to generate innovation from within organisations – sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation. He explained, “Sustaining innovation is about improving existing products, making generally small incremental improvements which creates a lot of value for customers. These are the relatively small investments, but the disruptive side is about game-changing innovations which is worth more investment.”

“We see that there are still many possibilities to improve the performance and reduce environmental impact but it is important that we work closely with the customer to know what is really necessary, but what we do know is that innovation is the key to the continues growth of our companies,” he concluded.

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Being told to be innovative is not exactly a new revelation to companies in our industry, however, coming up with original and ingenious ways in which to create this innovation, is. As Herzog concluded, “I can tell you the way to achieve market potential. If you hold a glass sphere, a crystal ball, and look inside – there you will find the answers.” It is true that innovative ideas are sometimes mystical and elusive, with the future of technology still very much a wide and open field for development, but as the presentations have defined over the past two days, looking to in-house capabilities and R&D investment seems to be the path to take to achieve it.

Raquet officially closed the event by thanking all the speakers, sponsors and delegates and concluded, “I want to thank you all again for coming from all over the world, we appreciate it very much and I hope that you do indeed go home richer in knowledge, having met new contacts, friends and even made some business whilst you were here.”

Full review

A full review of the conference will be published in the upcoming August edition of gasworld magazine.