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Sarah Harding PhD

Prophets

of profit

Published: February 3, 2017 by S Harding

Have the pundits had their day?

 

As I welcome you to the first issue of 2017, I must admit to being gratified by all the positive forecasts being made for the industry for the rest of this year and beyond. I realise that 2016 was a year that quite firmly trounced the credibility of the political and financial pundit, and frankly I have little remaining faith in forecasters of any kind. Nevertheless, I do have faith that a positive forecast can have a tremendous positive impact. But more as cause, rather than effect.

 

Henry Ford is quoted as having once said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” While Ford was probably emphasizing the power of positive thinking when he said this, he was also summarizing another important concept – that of the self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

If we consider the typical budgeting process in most businesses, analysts play an important role in predicting demand and making budgeting decisions based on those forecasts. A new product that is expected to have high demand will almost certainly be given the highest possible launch budget, while a product with low expected demand will be given minimal budget. The higher budget will very likely have a greater impact than the smaller one, leading to greater demand, and ultimately proving the analysts right. But were they right because their forecasts were correct, or because they recommended budgets that drove the outcomes they saw?

 

I’m not suggesting that we all throw limitless money at causes with limited potential. I’m also not suggesting that a positive attitude will always lead to positive outcomes. There are obviously a vast number of real-world factors at play, and there is also the danger of complacency to deal with, after all. However, just as an example, if we continue to bemoan Brexit, only the bravest will seek to invest in the UK. If we instead focus on the opportunities presented to industry by Britain’s exit from the Union – most commonly cited as the potential for greater innovation that might skirt [safely] around the edges of existing EU law – perhaps circumstances might indeed prove beneficial for all concerned.

 

According to analysts at Allied Market Research, the industry is set to reach an impressive $233.5 billion by 2020, registering a CAGR of 4.9% between 2015 and 2020. Similarly, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has predicted increases in US chemicals production of 3.6% this year, and 4.8% in 2018 – if this holds true, the US will be a main growth driver in global chemicals for the next couple of years, at least.

 

In this issue’s DCAT special feature leading experts provide insights into the pharmaceutical industry and key issues driving drug development and commercialization. Happily, the overall message seems to be that prospects are good, with innovations and new approvals leading us towards a raft of significant improvements over existing therapies. Meanwhile, an emerging middle class in the Asia Pacific is driving rapidly-increasing demand for cosmetics and personal care products, electronics, automobiles (along with all the materials and coatings involved) and energy technologies. As our global population continues to grow we also need to keep on feeding the world, with consequent growth of agrochemical markets.

 

In other words, the demand is out there, and opportunities should exist for the taking. So here is my prophecy for 2017. There are going to be some ups and downs, and there might be a few casualties along the way. But our industry as a whole is strong, and we will continue to develop novel solutions to the world’s problems. At the end of 2017, we’re going to look back and say, “This was one of the good ones”.

 

Now, please… go and make it happen!

 

Sarah Harding, PhD

Editor – Speciality Chemicals Magazine

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