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PFA History

The history and culture of PFA, by Peter Fisk, MD

Peter Fisk Associates came into being after I left Shell Research Limited in 1995. After ten years in R & D, and five years in regulatory work in a multinational, I was ready to find out what I was really made of! Setting up a small company was very exciting and a great deal of fun, because I am the kind of person who can try out all the kinds of skills needed in small business.

Over the years we have grown steadily, with very few people leaving us – several have over ten years with the company. I am proud that young people have started their careers with PFA and developed high levels of skill. More experienced scientists have joined us and found freedom to use their knowledge well. We have a very diverse set of scientific skills, styles, and nationalities represented. I want everyone to fulfil their potential without being hampered by systems.

In terms of client-base, we have always had a mix of small and large companies, consortia and regulatory authorities. We can retain a sense of reality about commercial need balanced with objectivity that is needed in environmental consulting and particularly when regulatory compliance is at stake. We have always taken the view that the interpretation of data does not depend at all on who the client is. I have greatly appreciated input from some very well-known figures in the field, and realise that there is always a lot more to learn.

At a personal level, I would be delighted to see sustainability in respect of product and process design getting a higher priority in industry, especially in R & D; we want to be part of that. At the same time I would like to see regulators identifying the really important issues more readily. REACH provides an opportunity to have a truly level ‘playing field’ in regulation, but it would be good if the limited regulatory resource was focused on the serious issues. To that end, I believe that regulators and industry alike can trust what PFA does.

Since the very beginning of the company, a large proportion of PFA’s work has been with the European Union regulatory bodies, as well as industry throughout the EU. Therefore it made sense to have a base in Brussels, particularly in the face of the UK referendum, so in 2015 we set up PFA-Brussels sprl. A wholly-owned subsidiary of PFA Ltd, the focus of PFA-Brussels is strategic needs within REACH, chemicals policy, and EU cosmetics and biocides.

The PFA Group now has about 25 full and part-time staff, with a total of the equivalent about 20 people. We work well together, with informal working relationships, and a quiet respect for each other’s experience.