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Queens Award

Queen's Awards for four UK-based chemical operations

Four companies with operations in the UK have been honoured in the latest round of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Diamond Dispersions, Sterling Pharma Solutions and Leverton Clarke all won in the International Trade category, Biocatalysts in the Innovation category.

In operation since 1966, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise is the highest official UK awards programme and recognises UK businesses that excel in four categories. The other two are Sustainable Development and Promoting Opportunity. Diamond Dispersions, a Sheffield-based subsidiary of Lubrizol, and Sterling were both honoured for outstanding short-term growth.

The former, which makes colour concentrates used in the manufacture of inkjet inks, mainly for the digital printing of textiles, was noted for doubling of export sales over the last three years. It had previously won the same award in 2012. Marketing manager Andrew Grantham said that Digital Dispersions had built its recent growth on working more closely with print machine manufacturers, thus enabling them to develop bespoke ink products, while also supporting demand for customisation, shorter print runs, just-in-time manufacturing and reduced stocks. It has also developed specific products for the more environment-friendly pigmented digital textile printing market.

Pharmaceutical CDMO Sterling Pharma Solutions was recognised for the 80% increase in export sales of API development and manufacturing services over the last three years following a management buy-out in 2016 and the diversification of its customer portfolio. Turnover has grown by 46% since 2016 and the firm recently acquired CiVentiChem’s North Carolina facility.

Basingstoke’s Leverton Clarke, which focuses on lithium derivative salts and other speciality chemicals, had previously won the Queen’s Award in 2014, also in the International Trade category. The company exports to over 28 countries worldwide. Since the first award, noted CEO David Hicks, it had invested in a large new site, as well as in people.

Biocatalysts, which makes speciality enzymes for multiple industries, was one of 201 winners in its category. Over five years, it developed MetXtra, a software system that can screen millions of sequences to identify new enzymes, shortening the early stages of early stages of enzyme discovery from years to a few weeks and facilitating scale-up of processes. The company has also recently invested in a new 10 m3 fermenter, high- tech mini fermenters and downstream processing. This will increase its fermentation capacity more than tenfold and considerably reduce development time, the company said.

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