denver, Aug. 29, 2011 — Among deepening concerns about the U.S. job situation, the world’s largest scientific society, the American Chemical Society (ACS), issued a report today that maps critical steps to pioneer new economic growth.
Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs details how one of our nation’s most valuable economic sectors – the chemical enterprise – can shift from a historically commodity-based industry to a highly productive engine capitalizing on scientific innovations to stimulate powerful economic growth.
The report identifies chemical entrepreneurs as uniquely positioned to take high-value innovations and commercialize new products and processes that will greatly stimulate economic productivity – bottom line: to create jobs.
“In this report, ACS calls for a return to greater entrepreneurship to stimulate economic growth through the commercialization of new ideas,” said ACS Executive Director and CEO, Madeleine Jacobs. “The chemical enterprise is one of our nation’s most valuable economic sectors and holds the keys to solving some of our most press challenges in areas of food quality, energy self-sufficiency, healthcare and environmental sustainability. Today, ACS, and its more than 163,000 members, commits to providing entrepreneurs the tools they need to turn innovation into economic growth.”
The report, publicly released Monday, Aug. 29, is the product of an ACS Presidential task force appointed by 2010 ACS President Joseph S. Francisco, Ph.D., William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Science and Chemistry, Purdue University.
“As this nation continues to wrestle with growing annual budget deficits and thorny issues attendant to the raising of our national debt ceiling, this report recommends policy changes that, if enacted, will help create jobs,” said Francisco. “And with those new jobs comes increased revenue for this nation.”
The task force consisted of eminent scientists from industry, academia and government, all with experience in entrepreneurship, and was chaired by George M. Whitesides, Ph.D., Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor, Harvard University. A list of task members follows at the end of this release.
The report recommends four main thrusts:
ACS’ immediate priority is providing services and introducing entrepreneurs to the contacts in industry and academia who can help them get started. Services important to entrepreneurs include: legal advice, help in navigating the patent application process, assistance in business establishment, marketing, export issues, human resources, and working with academic institutions to identify new innovations with a high potential for commercialization. This will open an era for highly qualified job candidates to pursue new opportunities and open valuable markets – but to spur this kind of growth, entrepreneurs need strong support.
The U.S. is unique among major industrial economies in that it relies heavily on the market system to create growth. However, chemical innovations with the strongest potential to be highly economically productive require entrepreneurs to operate through complex collaborations across multiple economic sectors.
“Innovations in chemical processes and products are brought to the market now through complex relationships between entrepreneurs, academia, and large and small companies,” said Whitesides. “The biggest single issue is facilitating support for entrepreneurs in the early stages as they start small companies, navigate the patent process, identify larger companies with whom they can partner, and identify markets. ACS has the capacity to make these connections.”
The biotech and technology industries have pursued similar models with great success, which has allowed them to more thoroughly embrace technological advancements than other industries in recent years. This ability to truly capitalize, develop, and commercialize innovations is where the U.S. has fallen down in the last 20 years and that has stymied productivity and limited economic growth, particularly for the chemical industry.
On the plus side, the chemical enterprise represents one of America’s most valuable economic sectors. At $145 billion, the chemical industry accounts for more than 10 percent of U.S. total merchandise exports. The U.S. produces 19 percent of the world’s chemicals, more than any other single country. And more than 96 percent of all manufactured goods are touched by the business of chemistry, employing more than 800,000 people in industry alone. Thousands more work in national laboratories and research universities. The new jobs report makes the point that the chemical enterprise has tremendous potential – and as all economic growth comes from potential – chemical entrepreneurs and the companies they start up hold the keys to impressive economic productivity.
The first goal is to support entrepreneurs directly, according to the report, but it also notes that reforming the U.S. business climate is equally important. Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs calls for important changes to federal and state policies governing the patent application process, R&D tax credits for businesses who invest in developing new products and processes, and those policies that foster small business. ACS favors expanding funding for programs such as: Small Business Innovation Research, Small Business Technology Transfer, Small Business Investment Companies, and Small Business Administration microloan programs. ACS also advocates reforming these programs to make direct research funding for small businesses readily available.