Standard Industries Launches a $1 Million AI Challenge to Transform Chemical Innovation

Winning Solution Will Accelerate the Development of Medicines, Food, Supplements, and Other Everyday Essentials

Applicants Can Register Here Until April 5, 2024

NEW YORK, March 7, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Standard Industries, a global industrial company, along with its operating business W. R. Grace & Co., a leader in specialty chemicals and materials, today launched the Standard Industries Chemical Innovation Challenge: Advancing AI-Assisted Molecular Synthesis. Standard will award $1 million to an individual or team that best uses AI to transform the process in which fine chemicals—vital building blocks in products ranging from medicine to food to supplements—are made.

Standard Industries Chemical Innovation Challenge Logo

This process, known as chemical retrosynthesis—when chemists start with a desired molecule and work backward to figure out the best pathway forward—is a time and resource consuming task, relying heavily on manual analysis and trial and error. AI and machine learning capabilities can streamline and optimize this process.

Recognizing this opportunity, Standard is inviting companies, academics, and individuals from around the globe to create a machine-based platform that will enhance the efficiency, accuracy, and sustainability of chemical retrosynthesis, to benefit industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to materials science.

In addition to the $1 million award, the winning team will have the opportunity to form a strategic partnership with Grace, a chemical industry leader that works with major pharmaceutical and other companies to supply the materials science expertise that takes products from small trials to large-scale commercial manufacturing. Interested applicants can visit this link for more details on the Challenge and the application process.

“As a global industrial company, we invest in technologies that impact not just our digital lives, but the built physical world. AI and machine learning have the power to do just that by accelerating materials science and transforming the way we develop products essential to our everyday lives,” said David Millstone and David Winter, Co-CEOs of Standard Industries. “We are excited to launch the Standard Industries Chemical Innovation Challenge and look forward to seeing how innovators around the world harness the power of computing to unlock new, more effective, and more efficient ways to solve real world problems.”

The Challenge will consist of three phases:

  • Phase One. Teams will submit white papers detailing their computational approach to the problem, their proposed initial training dataset, and a description of the feasibility of their model.
  • Phase Two. The top ten participants will advance to create ten or more test molecules and a basic interface for real-time evaluation, plus additional tests to showcase their tool’s effectiveness.
  • Phase Three. The three finalist teams will be given five or more challenge molecules, and will present the output for each molecule, defining the key transformations and the proposed synthesis of this transformation.

An impartial panel of judges from academia and business with expertise and experience in organic synthesis, computationally-assisted synthesis and computational chemistry will oversee the competition and assess each team’s solution.

At the conclusion of the third phase, the judges will choose the winning team based on real world results of the finalists’ predictive models. In addition to the $1 million winning prize awarded to the winner, the three semi-finalists will each receive $100,000 and up to ten teams that advance through the white paper development phase will each receive $10,000.

In addition to its performance materials business led by Grace, Standard also applies innovative technologies to the building materials world. Standard Building Solutions, comprising GAF (North America’s largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer), GAF Energy (solar roofing), BMI (Europe’s largest manufacturer in the combined pitched and flat roofing market), Schiedel, SGI, and Siplast, is collectively the largest roofing and waterproofing company in the world.

About Standard Industries

Standard Industries is a privately-held global industrial company operating in over 80 countries with over 20,000 employees and annual revenue of over $11 billion. The Standard ecosystem spans a broad array of holdings, technologies and investments—including both public and private companies from early to late-stage—as well as world-class building solutions, performance materials, logistics, real estate and next-generation solar technology.

Throughout its history, Standard has leveraged its deep industry expertise and vision to create outsize value across its businesses, which today include operating companies GAF, BMI, Grace, GAF Energy, Siplast, SGI, Schiedel, and Standard Logistics, as well as Standard Investments and Winter Properties. Among other innovations, GAF Energy is the largest solar roofing producer in the world and its new Timberline Solar product is the world’s first nailable solar shingle.

About Grace

Built on talent, technology, and trust, Grace, a Standard Industries company, is a global leader in specialty chemicals. The company’s two industry-leading business segments—Catalyst Technologies and Materials Technologies—provide innovative products, technologies, and services that enhance the products and processes of our customers around the world. With approximately 4,500 employees, Grace operates and/or sells to customers in more than 100 countries. More information about Grace is available at GRACE® is a registered trademark in the United States and/or other countries of W. R. Grace & Co.-Conn.

Media Contact:
Beth Kseniak
Head of External Communications, Standard Industries

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