Such an anniversary provided the inevitable – and valuable – opportunity to look back to the first EPPS and at why it was held.
Dr James Bolton, then director of the BioComposites Centre and since retired from work, said in his opening address that he wanted to: "Encourage the exchange of findings in both technological and fundamental research, to keep our industry as well-informed and competitive as possible, and to ensure that fundamental research is industrially relevant".
That objective is of course at least as relevant today as it was then and was the guiding light for both this year’s conferences.
Since 1997, globalisation, increasing environmental challenges, emissions regulations, resource issues and much else has impacted the industry. And that makes these kind of gatherings ever more important.
Yes, the content of that first EPPS was highly scientific and a few delegates were critical. One, himself a Phd scientist, notably said to me: "Some of this is a million miles from making panels".
But was it? Where would the panel industry be today if scientists, technicians and engineers had not developed faster presses, better-performing and less-formaldehyde-emitting resins, new ways of processing raw materials and new ways of monitoring quality in a timely way on these ever-faster production lines?
Look again at Dr Bolton’s objectives and I think you will agree that little has changed and that where the industry is today is largely as a result of following that route and keeping the industry "as well-informed and as competitive as possible".
The whole panel business has also become more international over the last 10 years and the BioComposites Centre is recognising that fact by re-naming itself to reflect where it has been for some time – the International Panel Products Symposium.
I wonder how we will look back on the messages of EPPS 10 at IPPS 10?
Happy Christmas and a very prosperous New Year to you all!