Interview Wayne Sim
Canadian Wayne Sim is CEO of AUCERNA, a leading global provider of planning software for the energy industry. A Chemical Engineering graduate from the University of Calgary (Canada), Sim has had a long career as an entrepreneur in his country. His talk will be one of the main attractions of the forthcoming Mediterranean Congress of Chemical Engineering, which is to take place as part of the 19th Expoquimia - The International Chemistry Event to be held from 2-5 June at Fira de Barcelona’s Gran Via exhibition centre.
First of all, what are your main reasons for taking part as a speaker at the forthcoming Mediterranean Congress of Chemical Engineering?
For the last 20 years I have been very active supporting small business start ups in North America, I would like to see some of the practices make there way to other parts of the world as good ideas are by no means limited to North America. The primary challenge is not a shortage of good technology ideas it tends to be on how to build a business that can bring those ideas to a global market place.
As the CEO of a leading software provider, what can this type of technology bring to the development of chemical engineering?
In any given year approximately 200 billion USD of capital is spent in the Oil and Gas vertical that generates zero or negative value. Aucerna’s software is designed to help oil and gas operators to make better more agile decisions to reduce this inefficiency and provide a lower cost, lower carbon foot print process to extract hydrocarbons.
You have also stood out in Canada as a high-tech entrepreneur... Is the chemical industry a sector in which start-ups can play a role?
How does Canada view the current state of global chemical engineering?Generally speaking Canada is a resource, agriculture and manufacturing economy so there is limited opportunity to have global impact in the chemical engineering sector. From a personal perspective I believe that pace of innovation in chemical engineering has slowed down considerably over the last 20 years ( the last world changing innovation was the development of new refrigerants to replace CFC’s by DuPont ) with the maturing of the bulk chemical, refining and petrochemical industries. With the challenges facing our planet, global warming, proliferation of pollution into our oceans etc. I think the chemical engineering community requires a call to action to put our unique skill sets to work to solve globally relevant issues.
And as an entrepreneur, what is your view of the relationship between the sector and the business world?I will start by providing my characterization of the maturity cycle of companies, they start with a scientist or entrepreneur with a great idea once that idea has been congealed it is usually engineering leadership which figures out how to deliver it to the world, as investors look for returns the tendency is to hand the leadership to accounting professionals who focus on profitability and shareholder return, as a company achieves mass the leadership is often handed over to people with legal back ground to steer the company through the choppy waters of public ownership. While the IT and information sectors are in the early stages of their lifecycle many of the industries which leverage chemical engineering skills are much more mature, oil and gas, refining, pertrochemical, bulk chemical, pharma. This has led to a situation where chemical engineering is much more of a supporting role than the fundamental business driver. Pivoting our focus to clean manufacturing, environment, biotech, and remediation will enhance the relevance of what chemical engineers can deliver to the world.
Finally, what do you hope for from your involvement in the Congress, and from the Congress itself?I am hoping my involvement in the Congress will inspire a call to action amongst the new generation of cheme’s to move our focus to global issues which are going to impact the long term viability of our planet
Barcelona, December 2019