Catalysis and Reaction Engineering

Factories for the Future

Factories for the Future
  • Date From 28th March 2023
  • Date To 28th March 2023
  • Price TBC
  • Location School of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom.


The manufacture of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals traditionally involves multi-step reactions and physical operations such as mixing, heating, cooling, filtering, drying and tabletting. Scale-up is focussed mainly on bringing the product to the mass market; however, topical issues such as effective use of raw materials and energy, reducing the number of process steps, efficient separations, and lowering carbon emissions also need to be considered.

This one-day meeting will explore how future manufacturing plants will need to evolve as we strive towards net-zero carbon processes and respond to the depletion of traditional resources. Topics will include: multi-step synthesis and reactor design, process integration and control, catalysis and selectivity enhancement, the application of big data and machine learning, atom efficiency, sustainability and robotics.

A mix of keynote, oral and poster presentations will showcase the advances being made in Factories for the Future.


  • 10:00–10:55
    Registration, coffee and putting up posters

  • 10:55–11:00
    Opening remarks

  • 11:00–11:45
    Keynote speaker 1: Prof. Richard Bourne, University of Leeds
    Industry 4.0: Self-optimised development of Pharmaceutical Processes

  • 11:45–12:30
    Keynote speaker 2: Dr Carl Helmut Coulon, Head of Innovation, INVITE, Leverkusen, Germany
    Beyond classical automation: Modern Robotics in Factories of the Future

  • 12:30–13:30
    Lunch and posters

  • 13:30–14.15
    Keynote speaker 3: Professor Alexei Lapkin, University of Cambridge
    Digitalisation of R&D and Manufacturing in Pharma

  • 14.15–14:45
    Short talks from early-career researchers (3 x 10 min)

  • 14:45–15:30
    Keynote speaker 4: Speaker from Syngenta 
    Biorenewable Feedstocks in Agrochemical Innovation: Opportunities and Challenges
  • 15:30–16:00

  • 16:00–16:45
    Keynote speaker 5: TBC 
    Sustainability - Life-Cycle Analysis
  • 16:45–17:15
    Panel discussion

  • 17:15–18:00
    Closing remarks and wine reception


Early-career researchers wishing to give a short talk are encouraged to submit a one-page abstract to Prof Joe Wood at by 16 December 2022 with "Factories for the Future – short talk abstract" in the subject line.

Anyone wishing to present a poster should submit a one-page abstract to Prof Joe Wood at by 27 January 2023 with " Factories for the Future – poster abstract" in the subject line.


Registration will open soon. In the meantime, please register your interest below and we will send you the registration link when it is live.

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