A Competitive U.S. Business Climate: Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs

ACS Position Statement

Science and technology help create millions of high-skill, high-wage jobs that support a strong U.S. economy and enhance American quality of life. There is abundant evidence that over the long term, the great majority of newly created U.S. jobs have been the indirect or direct result of advancements in science and technology.

The world is now a much more competitive place than it was even 10 years ago. Only two of the top ten chemical companies with the highest R&D investments are U.S.-based companies. And yet, the nation’s chemical industry is a $674 billion enterprise that generates nearly 11 percent of all U.S. patents. Deloitte anticipates that, even in a “worst-case” economic scenario for the coming decade, “the demand for innovative uses for chemicals and chemical-based products will remain strong.”

The scientific and technological innovation that underpins our economic competitiveness results from sustained investments in scientific research and in a strong educational system. To complement this technological advancement, our nation’s business laws, tax code, trade policies, and regulatory environment should work together to assure that the products of U.S. science and technology companies can be introduced to the international marketplace competitively and without facing inappropriate barriers. The United States should be the most welcoming place to start, maintain, or expand science- and technology-based activities.

Historically, the largest employers of chemists have been large, publicly owned chemical companies. Increasingly, small businesses and entrepreneurs are becoming essential contributors to the chemistry economy and a growing factor in the chemistry employment picture. By fostering the domestic expansion of existing companies and development of small businesses that can be centers of job creation, the chemistry enterprise not only improves its own prospects, but helps raise the fortunes of the entire nation.

The federal government should create a policy environment conducive to business development at all levels that would aid the chemistry enterprise in creating and commercializing new products and services here in the United States. These products and services would help strengthen our existing industry and help nucleate new industries, thus supporting new and sustainable science-based jobs.

Policy Recommendations

Tax and Trade

ACS supports efforts to foster U.S. corporate tax and trade policies that will make American firms competitive with our international rivals by

  • Making the Research and Experimentation tax credit internationally competitive, compelling, and permanent.
  • Making Research and Experimentation tax credits accessible to start-up businesses by making them refundable or transferable.
  • Encouraging more states to provide tax credits for research and experimentation or investment in technology startups.
  • Providing preferential tax treatment for repatriated income that is invested in U.S.-based technology development and job creation.
  • Maintaining taxation of carried interest at the capital gains level for long-term, venture and angel capital invested in high-risk startup companies.
  • Providing tax incentives to spur U.S. science and technology investment and job creation.
  • Assisting displaced science and technology workers with retraining and job searching.
  • Reducing the incentives to locate businesses or jobs outside the United States to avoid taxation.
  • Advocating a more flexible international trade framework to better balance security considerations with the partnerships that advance science and technology development.
Intellectual Property

ACS supports reforms to the U.S. patent and intellectual property framework that will promote, not impede, innovation by

  • Staffing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to expedite the evaluation of patent applications and thereby reduce the patent backlog.
  • Allowing the PTO to apply all fees directly to a more efficient patent review process.
  • Strengthening intellectual property protection in trade policy to reduce instances of foreign violation of American copyright and patent holdings.
Technology Transfer and Commercialization

ACS supports policies to improve technology transfer and commercialization of breakthroughs spurred by federal research investments by

  • Expanding university research infrastructure and developing communities of innovation centered on academic research environments and national laboratories.
  • Providing grants, low-interest loans, and accelerated depreciation tax incentives to mitigate the high start-up or retooling costs associated with high technology businesses.
  • Expanding federal programs that provide targeted support for commercialization activities at science research agencies.
Small Business and Entrepreneurship

ACS supports policies that foster the growth of small research and development businesses and encourage entrepreneurship by

  • Expanding funding for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), and Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC) programs and reforming these programs to make direct research funding for small businesses more readily available.
  • Providing incentives for larger companies to expand investments in start-up research and development businesses.