Last week I attended Informex in New Orleans. I had never been to either the meeting or the city, but I kind of knew what to expect as I have attended events of this size and type before and have heard of New Orleans's reputation as a great host city.
Getting to the Big Easy wasn’t so easy, though. Many flights into New Orleans were delayed by snow (the northeastern U.S. was particularly affected), and some attendees and exhibitors had to cancel at the last minute. In any case, the event had a reasonably good turnout and included 1,000 exhibitors from the fine, specialty, and custom chemical industry. Informex is a nice size—not too big, which can be counterproductive, with partners, collaborators, and potential clients often spending an inordinate amount of time trying to find each other.
C&EN was present, with a booth and representatives from editorial, advertising sales, and marketing teams. We organized a couple of events, starting with a reception to welcome exhibitors the evening before the exhibition floor opened its doors. It was a great success with about 275 attendees, and it was a wonderful opportunity to see old contacts and make new acquaintances. We also ran a “Beignets with Bibiana” event at the networking lounge, which allowed me to introduce myself, say a few words about our plans for the year ahead, and hear from readers of the magazine firsthand.
During the couple of days I was there, I got to hear about an interesting collaboration between Informex and Habitat for Humanity. It's a four-year-old program that started with the aim of raising awareness for Rx360, a pharmaceutical supply-chain consortium. On Tuesday morning, attendees-turned-volunteers worked for a few hours on two houses located side by side in the St. Roch neighborhood, a historically low-income area and one of the neighborhoods affected by Hurricane Katrina. Many homes are now being rebuilt, and for the volunteers, companies, and organizations that support this initiative, it's an opportunity to give back and invest in the future of New Orleans, a city that has hosted Informex before.
So on the basis of my experience this year, I already have some of my schedule sorted out for this time next year: welcome reception on Monday evening, Habitat for Humanity on Tuesday morning, and Beignets with Bibiana on Wednesday noon. I invite you to put these events on your 2016 schedule, too.
I want to add a brief note about an important anniversary that takes place this year, as 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of chemical giant BASF. In 1865 Friedrich Engelhorn, a German entrepreneur and goldsmith, founded Badische Anilin & Sodafabrik in Mannheim. Nowadays, BASF is the largest chemical company in the world and also one of the longest surviving. To celebrate this milestone, BASF is organizing a number of events throughout the year themed around the Creator Space, an open-innovation initiative involving discussions and symposia across a variety of locations around the world to garner solutions for two major societal challenges: urban waste and lack of clean water. Senior Editor Alex Scott, C&EN’s European business reporter, attended the kick-off event in Mumbai; be sure to read his report on page 16.
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