Scientific Update – changing with the times during covid-19

As businesses around the world have had to postpone and cancel live meetings, conferences and training courses in response to COVID-19 disease, workplace and group training has become one of the earliest and hardest-hit business activities. We have found that 100% of companies we work with across the globe, have had to postpone or cancel their plans for the foreseeable future – maybe until a vaccine is found. This has been a very difficult period for us all and presented us all with a new set of challenges in 2020!

In Canada, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, searches for terms such as online learning and e-learning increased up to fourfold between the end-March and early April 2020 as strict lock-down rules came into force in most OECD countries. They were still about twice as high as their long-term trend at the end of April 2020.

As a team, we were exploring online training as part of our future strategy, and knew that digital and virtual learning programmes were already on the rise before COVID-19 struck. Due to the travel restrictions and lock-downs throughout the world, we have had to adapt extremely quickly and decisively, so that we could offer great online training experiences, in a very short time frame. Businesses can’t afford to put learning and development building on hold and we are doing our best to provide a useful service in these difficult times.

Our first major foray into the virtual event world during lock-down was our ‘Flow Chemistry and Continuous Processing’ Conference back in May. This event attracted over 1000 delegates and was free to attend. The conference was a great success and chemists throughout the world were pleased to be able to participate online and gain new insights in to flow chemistry.  Patheon Australia commented ‘I attended the “VIRTUAL Conference | Flow Chemistry and Continuous Processing” on Monday and Tuesday – thanks for the great organization under these circumstances. Very interesting talks.’

The next Conference will also be held virtually ‘Scale Up of Chemical Processes’ on 19-21 October.  This event was first held back in 1994! We have a fantastic line up of 8 industry leaders who will present case studies and some of the problems they faced and how they overcame them.  More information can be found here.

Sadly, our flagship ‘Organic Process Research and Development Conference’ which was going to take place in Basel, Switzerland in September then moved to December will now also be held virtually. We had to take the difficult decision to postpone the live event until 2021. We will be running a Virtual Exhibition Platform and Zoom Meeting rooms to help keep everyone connected, so we do hope to see you online this December.

The first online training course we ran back in May 2020 also proved popular and Will and John, our Technical and Science Directors have risen admirably to the challenge of teaching online training. Delivering effective virtual training takes an additional set of skills to ensure we create an engaging and useful learning experience for our participants! People are a little less attentive online as email and family etc can distract us all quite easily, so we have had to learn how to run polls, Q&A’s and generally make the sessions as lively as possible. It is always useful to get feedback and a delegate from Syngenta commented ‘I attended the @SciUp Solvent Selection training course last week. It was excellent and provided great learning + a fantastic set of notes.’

Another attendee from Patheon on our recent online ‘Filtration and Drying’ course commented ‘This course provides a concise and comprehensive overview of solid-liquid separation technologies and drying, their evaluation and practical considerations. Thank you for this online training.’ You can view the range of topics on our website here.

We have also had a lot of positive feedback about our free webinars – people felt we were giving them an opportunity to learn about a topic for free when they were in lock-down. You can access our webinar archive on our website at any time!

In-house courses are also in demand and we delivered several during lock-down. We are already getting booked up for the Autumn/Winter.  If you have a team in several different locations who would like to undertake training in ‘bite-sized’ sessions, we can provide on-line training, both ‘live’ and available ‘on-demand’ with access to our tutors for Q&A at specific times. You can either have a bespoke course or choose one of our public courses. Click here for more information.

As we move into Autumn and Winter, we have adapted some of our most popular training courses for online learning. This enables us to reach more chemists worldwide who perhaps could not travel to Europe or the US before. This can only be of benefit to the global chemistry community and we are delighted to be able to offer these online. Click here for more information.

There are many benefits of online learning and virtual conferences, but many of us, including the fabulous Nessa Carson, Senior Scientist at Syngenta and Scientific Editor, Synthetic Reaction Updates for the RSC, really miss the live experience. Meeting face to face, enjoying great networking and mixing with like-minded people – this can’t be replicated online but thank goodness for what we can do now! Take a read of Nessa’s recent article which accurately portrays some of the benefits of online events by clicking here.

Our future strategy is to run both online and live courses, as we feel this gives the chemistry community the flexibility to choose what’s best for them. Check out our website and sign up for our emails for regular updates. We hope to ‘see’ you soon!