TSG Consulting at 30

2020 has seen TSG Consulting celebrate its 30th Anniversary. The business arose from a need for services addressing changing regulations and it is the company’s ability to adapt to these developments – working in strategic partnership with clients – that continues to be our core strength today, underpinned by the combined experience and passion of our colleagues.

From humble beginnings near Capitol Hill to becoming part of the Science Group in 2017, TSG Consulting offers high-quality services – powered by more than 100 scientists and regulatory consultants – supporting clients’ compliance needs in the chemical, industrial, agrochemical, medical, animal food and health sectors.

How TSG started

TSG Consulting began life in 1990 in Washington DC as a subsidiary of a leading international law firm and was initially staffed by just three PhD level scientists – supported by finance and other administrative colleagues – who provided regulatory services for Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) issues, still a core part of our business today. TSG immediately found wider success and grew to include more than 20 full-time staff in its first year, before continuing its North American expansion with our California office (1991) and the creation of TSG Canada (2007).

‘Across the pond’, TSG opened its UK office in 2000 initially staffed by five senior regulatory scientists whose experience – compiling scientific dossiers for the European Union (EU), along with product support and defence efforts – proved invaluable to clients operating across the continent. Our expansion into Europe continued with offices opening in Spain (2002), Germany (2010) and France (2018).

How TSG operates

At TSG, we take pride in our ability to act as a strategic partner and advisor to businesses. The diversity of our global teams – staffed by former regulators, academics, industry specialists, alongside scientists and consultants – enables us to offer far more than simply regulatory and technical support. Erin Tesch, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of TSG North America (who joined TSG in 2000), says: “The perspective they offer enables us to look at issues more holistically, anticipating the commercial consequences of changes to the regulatory landscape.”

Like Erin, Ewen Wright, Chemicals & REACH Consultant, TSG UK (who joined in 2008), feels the company benefits from its experience across a wide variety of areas. He adds: “We are able to present that to clients and say ‘we can undertake this work with an enormous degree of confidence and provide a positive outcome’. And that isn't just about qualifications, it's about people's experiences and understanding – how regulators work, the way regulations are implemented, how different authorities around the world operate – issues that go beyond the science and letter of the law.”

How TSG has evolved

Among the company’s longest-serving staff are Don Bealing, Senior Ecotoxicology Consultant for Europe (who joined in 2002), Vicky Atkinson, Business Development Manager for Europe (2006), and Micah Reynolds, Senior Regulatory Consultant for North America (2010). They say that, while TSG has grown from small offices – with an almost family atmosphere – to become part of an international advisory and product development organisation, the professionalism and collegial atmosphere among colleagues has remained a constant attraction. Vicky says: “It was a very small team, around 11 or 12 of us, when I first started. Joining a big company like Science Group was always going to bring changes with it, including new faces, but with them came new opportunities. It’s a whole new ball game for us and that’s exciting. We've got such a nice breadth of consultants, who come with backgrounds and experiences that are so valuable to our clients in their mission to bring products to market. We come fully armed with all of the capabilities to allow them to do that.”

Daryl Thomas, Managing Director of TSG in Europe, is a more recent addition to TSG (joining in 2018) who has also seen the benefits being part of the Science Group has brought about. “It means TSG is uniquely placed to draw on knowledge and expertise across the wider organisation, supporting clients on their regulatory, advisory and product development journeys,” he said. “Our next step is to integrate our technical capability across the groups’ regulatory businesses, whilst maintaining our sector-specific focus. This brings advantages to our clients, enabling a seamless service across sectors and throughout their respective value chains.”

Continually evolving regulations

Beth Mileson, Principal Consultant and Team Leader for TSG in North America (who joined in 2001), has seen many changes throughout her career, including the introduction of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) in 1996, which would impact the work she would later do at TSG. Beth says that FQPA had huge implications for pesticide regulation and still does, adding: “FQPA significantly decreased the number of agricultural products in use and this had a massive impact on our business. Companies started looking more towards more natural and low toxicity pesticide products, which are cheaper to register and are used widely on crops today. A lot of the more conventional chemicals have fallen by the wayside as a result.”

These naturally derived products, among them biopesticides and biostimulants, are likely to become increasingly important in the coming years. The biopesticides market alone was worth USD 4.40 billion globally in 2019 and, according to a September 2020 estimate by Fortune Business Insights, is predicted to be worth USD 10.63 billion by 2027.  TSG has built a strong track record in helping clients on their journey to create lower risk products that still deliver the efficacy sought by growers in the past. Regulators are struggling to keep pace with these developments, however. The EU was first to propose introduction of guidelines overseeing production and use of biostimulants – products applied to plants or soils to make them more resistant to stress or improve their nutrient uptake – and the US and Canada have taken steps to make registration of biopesticide products more efficient, through the development of modified test methodologies and guidance documents, but more progress is needed to clarify the situation.

Iain Watt, Head of Plant Protection for Europe (who joined in 2018) says: “Policy makers are trying to secure greater agricultural sustainability with acceptable environmental impact. Biopesticides are seen to deliver this and there is an increasing momentum, both from regulators and growers, for increased use of these type of products. The disappearance of existing conventional products certainly opens-up new opportunities – where previously they were either too expensive, or niche, to get a foothold. When it comes to biostimulants, these products were previously undefined at EU level. Some ended up approved as plant protection products, while others gained market access under various routes at member state level. That will change in 2022, with a clear route to EU market as biostimulants. Some grey areas will still exist for plant growth regulators vs. biostimulant claims, however, so it will be interesting to see how that evolves.”

Focusing in on more conventional chemistries, a big part of Ewen’s role is ensuring that clients’ products comply with the EU’s regulatory framework – REACH, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regulation – which came into force in 2007. While this was a big development, Ewen feels that Brexit is likely to shake things up even further. “The consequences are absolutely enormous for the chemicals industry,” he added. “It means a whole new set of deadlines and regulatory requirements, resulting in the situation where people who've spent the past decade becoming compliant with EU regulations are going to have to potentially double their effort for access to one country, the UK.”

The Covid-19 pandemic will also undoubtedly have a profound effect on the regulatory landscape in 2021 and beyond, but Beth feels TSG is well-placed to meet that challenge. “We’re lucky at TSG that we have people who can steer the ship in the right direction,” she said. “If you look at Covid, we already had a great group of folks working on antimicrobial products but, suddenly, we had to move even further in that direction. And it was easy for us, because we knew the people at EPA who were in the antimicrobial division, we're already familiar with antimicrobial products and have been participating in the trade organizations that work on those products, so we were really well positioned for that.”

What next for TSG?

TSG has made a virtue of necessity throughout its history – growing, adapting and taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by constantly evolving regulatory landscapes worldwide – and, whatever comes next, that tradition will continue. Erin (Senior VP and MD for North America) adds: “Not only are we at the forefront of changing rules but – unique to North America – we’re also able to advocate and influence existing regulations, to better meet the needs of our clients. As part of that work, we feel it’s important to be an active participant and, in many cases a leader, in the important trade associations that represent our clients.”

Yet TSG is only as strong as the people who shape it and Erin stresses the importance of maintaining our positive culture among colleagues. She finishes: “TSG’s staff across the globe share some core characteristics, including their passion to solve problems for our clients, their visceral need to win and succeed, and their willingness to go above and beyond in serving those needs.” TSG colleagues have spent 30 years supporting the regulatory and compliance needs of clients in numerous industries and look forward to continuing to do so over the next 30 years – and beyond.