Change Comes to Pittcon

Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN)
C&EN News
March 27, 2017
By Marc S. Reisch

As instrument makers worried about taxes and trade, organizers unveiled changes for the conference

Change was in the air at the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry & Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon), held earlier this month in the windy city of Chicago.

Many tool makers at the annual scientific instrument gathering said they expect strong sales in the year ahead. But they voiced concern about potential changes in tax and trade policies from the administrations of both U.S. President Donald J. Trump and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.

Other changes already under way will affect Pittcon itself. A spokesperson for the conference confirmed that beginning with the 2018 event in Orlando, Pittcon will be shortened by a day.
The exposition will go from four days to three. “The decision to go to a three-day expo was made in response to a majority request by our exhibitors over the last several years,” the spokesperson said. Likewise, Pittcon’s technical program, which typically starts on a Sunday and lasts five days, will run four days starting next year.

Pittcon also confirmed that new host cities will be added to the conference rotation. In 2030, the event will be held in San Diego, moving west of the Mississippi River for the first time. Boston will join the list of Pittcon hosts in 2025 and 2028. The city and its suburbs are home to a large number of instrument makers, including Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waters Corp., and MilliporeSigma.
Declining attendance numbers may have figured into Pittcon organizers’ decision to tinker with the formula for the event. Turnout for the conference and show peaked at 34,000 in 1996 and has been declining for years.

A preliminary count by Pittcon officials set attendance at this year’s event at 14,151. About 16,200 people attended when it was last held in Chicago, in 2014, and Atlanta attracted about 12,840 people in 2016.

Change was also afoot at several scientific instrument makers, which emphasized software initiatives instead of radical breakthroughs in new tools. At the show, Thermo Fisher announced that it had acquired Core Informatics, a fast-growing, venture-capital-backed provider of cloud-based scientific data management systems with about 100 employees.

“Their cloud-based offerings are more discovery oriented, while we already had supported quality control and quality analysis in manufacturing processes,” explained Dan Shine, analytical instruments president at Thermo Fisher. “They will integrate seamlessly into what we already have.”
Waters Corp. launched the cloud version of its Empower chromatography data management system.
Waters’ TA Instruments unit introduced several new dilatometers and thermogravimetric analyzers, but Mike Harrington, senior vice president, noted that the days are over of bowing to pressure to bring new tools to Pittcon before they are commercially ready.