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Fine & Speciality Chemicals

Fine & Speciality Chemicals are usually described in terms of what they are, and specified by their chemical composition, customers of this sector buy molecules of a specific type often using them to build more complex molecules for products such as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals etc. Speciality chemical producers, on the other hand, make products that are described by what they do and so these products are sometimes referred to as effect or performance chemicals and are used in almost every branch of manufacturing to become ingredients for consumer products.

Fine & Speciality Chemicals

The Fine & Speciality Chemical Sector is part of the chemistry-based industry at the leading edge of technological development. The industry builds on the products of the base chemical sector and provides consumer product companies with new or enhanced capabilities and effects to sell on to their customers. This innovative sector often secures 50% of their turnover from products of less than three years old. North East England has real strength in this sector with over 60 companies having operations here. All five of the world’s largest speciality chemical companies have bases in the region.

Companies in this sector enable the progression of society to happen and innovation is a key business driver. Even the smallest Fine and Speciality Chemical Company will have an R&D team meeting the latest challenges from customers who are determining what new effects society is demanding, and many have strong links with university departments to encourage collaboration. New products are being introduced all the time while old products are being replaced or upgraded. Today such innovations, more often than not, take account of environmental improvement and biological impact, as these issues become of more and more concern to the consumer. These pressures are further adding to the pace of innovation.

There are many Fine & Speciality companies in the region including Croda, Lucite International, Invista, Elementis, Ineous, Esschem, Hammerite, International Paints, Thomas Swan, Rohm & Haas, Vertellus, Dow Halterman, Fruitarom and Oxford Chemicals.

Industrial specialities are also important to the North East England economy. They include suppliers of oil field chemicals that help in the extraction of oil and gas, of surfactants that prevent the caking of minerals, or catalysts suppliers that enable a wide variety of processes to be more energy efficient or produce cleaner products. Others provide special services such as extrusion, drying or packaging of products. Albemarle, Banner Chemicals, Baker Petrolite, Chemson, Exwold Technology, Johnson Matthey Catalysts, Koppers and Omya and are good examples of such companies.

Most major pharmaceuticals are made from building blocks that are called fine chemical intermediates. These are manufactured by the Fine & Speciality chemical companies that underpin the pharmaceutical industry who sell the finished pharmaceuticals that cure disease and extend life. North East England is particularly strong in the pharmaceutical intermediate supply chain with companies such as Aesica, Evonik Degussa, Piramal Healthcare – Pharma Solutions, Shasun, High Force Research, Onyx Scientific all playing significant roles.

Clearly these companies are diverse and fast moving and merger and acquisition activity is frequent as companies put together new product ranges, purchase technologies or markets or introduce a new business focus.


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