The inaugural gasworld Virtual Event 2020 appeared to usher in a new era for the global industrial gases business earlier this week, as it explored a crescendo of new market opportunities that are converging on the industry and providing the launchpad for the next wave of growth.
Those same opportunities also provide hope for the collective goal of putting the rigours of 2020 behind us and pushing forward into the new normal business environment, as so engagingly expressed by Opening Keynote Sanjiv Lamba.
Titled Asia-Pacific: Realising New Market Opportunities & Supply Chains, the event represented gasworld’s first foray into virtual conferences and boasted a strong and wide-ranging agenda of industrial gas talking points and top speakers to match.
A scene-setting introduction from Global Managing Editor Rob Cockerill had underlined the motivation for the event, as well as the backdrop against which the industry has been performing in 2020.
“Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening – wherever you are in the world, welcome to gasworld’s first ever Virtual Event,” he opened. “It’s our pleasure to have you with us today as speakers, sponsors and attendees.”
“Our original aim was of course to be in KL, Malaysia this week, to see you all in person and deliver the kind of engaging and insightful international conference that we are all accustomed to. As we all know, however, it has not been the kind of year we’re accustomed to – and we’ve known for some time now that our best laid plans would not be possible in person. These kind of digital interactions, via various platforms, have become the new normal for us all.”
“Against the backdrop of this whirlwind, of this new normal in business communications and networking, at gasworld we remain committed to keeping you at the forefront of the global industrial gases business. We’re more committed than ever to connecting the industry, to championing the causes and to bringing us all together in the name of discussion, debate and even networking.”
“Here at gasworld’s Virtual Event 2020 we’re bringing you the talks, the takeaways and the toolkit in industrial gases you can’t get anywhere else. And whilst we may all be different corners of the globe right now, our focus for the next eight or more hours is firmly on the Asia-Pacific region.”
‘We live in exceptional times’
A typically charismatic and engaging Opening Keynote from Linde plc’s Sanjiv Lamba officially opened the event
Lamba, recently appointed COO of Linde plc from 1st January (2021) began by also acknowledging the new normal in business, before paying deserved respects to the unsung heroes of the industry that have been on the frontline of fighting Covid-19 all year, as well a summary of the optimistic future ahead.
“Let me formally begin – good morning ladies and gentleman, I’m delighted to be here for this gasworld event and it’s event that needs the industry to come together at a time like this and ensure that we have the opportunity to recognise and understand what is happening around us.”
“I’m here as an observer in a time that looks, exceptional – there are no other words to describe it. I titled this talk Asia-Pacific – A World of Opportunities, and in the course of this conversation you’ll hear me talk about that in a little more detail.”
“I want to start off by acknowledging that we live in exceptional times. We live in exceptional times where the world is seeing challenges beyond what we would have imagined when we started off this year.”
“In many parts of Asia we started off the year as the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rat, with a great deal of expectation for what was likely to happen around us; the reality unfortunately was, that it all came to a grinding halt. This pandemic in many ways, has brought out the best and the worst in our world.”
“I have to say, with some pride I must admit, that as an industry the industrial gases industry has shone through this pandemic. A large part of that credit goes to our frontline staff, they have stepped up, they have delivered and through their dedication very often they have saved lives.”
Reflecting on the changing landscape in the region and the potential that awaits, Lamba described the shape of economic recovery across the Asia-Pacific region and what comfort could be drawn from this, and the global trends that will underpin the industry going forward.
“We will get back to a pre-Covid recovery, I have no doubt about that and I’m quite optimistic about how Asia-Pacific is performing and moving forward,” he enthused. “But the reality also is, we are learning to live with this virus. We are learning to co-exist and survive, and this economic recovery in Asia is a very positive story.”
Read more: Asia-Pacific building momentum
Lamba primed the day’s discussion with his own observations on the trend lines shaping the industry, and was keen to draw a line under a year that “I don’t think anyone really wants to talk about anymore.”
Looking ahead, he cited three key global trends as digitisation (go digital, he enthused), decarbonisation (go green) and the emergence of the hydrogen economy (go clean hydrogen), with the latter described as a ‘unique opportunity’ for the gases industry.
Regional markets in focus
A session devoted to understanding the state of play in the Japanese industrial gases business immediately followed, with Yoshiki Koizumi, President of The Gas Review, and Air Liquide Japan CEO Virginie Cavalli on the virtual stage to summarise the market position – and offer a view to its future.
The discussion then moved to the promising new Hydrogen Economy in Japan, via a talk from PDC Machines’ Kareem Afzal.
Session 2 took the discussion away from the mature and established market of Japan to the still-new and fast-growing industrial gas behemoth that is China. Edgar Hotard (ARCH Venture Partners, Shanghai Baosteel Gases and SIAD), and Bluce Ren (Gas Ecosphere) together debated China and the Impact of Covid-19: Perceptions and Supply Chains, while gasworld CEO and Publisher John Raquet discussed the Changing Landscape in China & the APAC Region.
As the discussion continues throughout the day, markets such as India, Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia were all in focus, while there was much debate enjoyed around hydrogen and clean energies, helium and electronics gases.
Read more: Growth predicted for semiconductor market
It was then down to Cockerill, co-host for the day’s proceedings, to summarise and close the event. He said, “Well, that’s a wrap and that concludes first ever Virtual Event. It’s our pleasure to have had you with us today, and our greatest thanks go to all of our speakers, sponsors and of course you, our attendees.”
“As we stated at the start of the day, our original aim was of course to be in KL, Malaysia this week, to see you all in person and deliver the kind of event that we are all accustomed to. But in a year of such change and business adaptation, we’d like to think we’ve delivered a virtual experience to be proud of today – packed full of regional insights, market projections and expert analysis. We’ve taken in a tour of the Asia-Pacific region at opportunity level, and a deeper dive into the defining growth drivers underpinning the next wave of growth in our industry.”
“Our special thanks once again to our opening keynote, Sanjiv Lamba, our Principal Sponsor INOXCVA and our Feature Sponsor, Herose, and also to our Events & Marketing team here at gasworld for making this possible.”
“We hope you’ve enjoyed the discussion and debate, we hope you’ve taken advantage of the virtual networking opportunities on offer throughout, and we hope you’ll leave with the insight and knowledge to take forward into what will hopefully be brighter 2021 for us all.”
“Stay safe, stay strong and see you early next year for the return of our Virtual Events programme!”
For more information on the gasworld Virtual Event 2020, how you can catch-up on the discussion, debate and networking, or to take a look at gasworld’s upcoming virtual events programme beginning in February 2021, visit www.gasworldconferences.com