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Resources for Chemistry Entrepreneurs and Managers

Industry Matters Newsletter
H. N. Cheng, ACS President-Elect, 2020
H. N. Cheng, ACS President-Elect, 2020
Diane Grob Schmidt, 2020 BMGT Chair; 2015 ACS President; Retired R&D Executive, The Procter & Gamble Company
Diane Grob Schmidt, 2020 BMGT Chair; 2015 ACS President; Retired R&D Executive, The Procter & Gamble Company
Jim Skinner, President and CEO, Terregena Inc.
Jim Skinner, President and CEO, Terregena Inc.

H. N. Cheng (BS, UCLA; PhD Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) currently works at USDA Southern Regional Research Center, where he is involved with sustainability and green chemistry as a product development platform. Prior to 2009, he was Senior Research Fellow at Hercules Incorporated (now Ashland, Inc.) in Wilmington, Delaware, where he held various R&D and managerial positions. He is author or coauthor of 275 journal articles and 26 patent publications and has edited or coedited 21 books. He is an ACS Fellow, POLY Fellow and AGFD Fellow. He has been active in the American Chemical Society (ACS) for many years and has served in leadership positions in numerous ACS committees and task forces. He is currently 2020 President-Elect of ACS and will serve as ACS President in 2021.

Diane Grob Schmidt, PhD, the 2015 ACS President, was an Executive at The Procter & Gamble Company, where she served as a R&D Section Head for 17 years. Her P&G career spanned 1981-2014 during which she played key roles in such brands as Tide®, Head & Shoulders®, Pert Plus® and Safeguard®. Dr. Schmidt had responsibility for health, safety and environment and regulatory affairs before retiring from P&G in 2014. She is the inventor or co-inventor on myriad patents, in addition to author or co-author on chemistry publications in refereed journals. She has received many awards, including ACS Fellow, AAAS Fellow, National Academy of Inventors Fellow, Fellow of the Division of Chemical Health & Safety, Henry Hill Award, and Distinguished Scientist of Cincinnati (first woman so honored). 

Jim is President and CEO of Terregena Inc., a biotech company he founded in 2007 in both the US and Canada. He is Chair-Elect of the Division of Small Chemical Businesses of the American Chemical Society. He is a consultant and contractor with the Federal Economic Development Agency of the Canadian Federal Government and has been Adjunct Professor in the College of Business at Western Carolina University. Jim is also Chairman and COO of Special “Finds…” Inc., an international real estate marketing firm.

In addition to serving as Chairman, President and CEO of three publicly traded companies, Jim has served as President, Corporate Vice President and General Manager and Vice President of Sales and Marketing for several multi-national corporations including Phillips Medical Systems and Becton Dickinson, following a successful career with Johnson and Johnson, and, Bayer.

As chemists, chemical engineers, biochemists, and other scientifically trained people in the chemistry profession, we are well steeped in our technical fields. However, as we move into “business” and “management,” many of us lack the training and experience to embrace new leadership roles and responsibilities. This occurs whether we’re starting a new company or moving up the ranks in a more established corporation. We do a lot of “learning on the job.”

To address this issue, “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” will be a key area of focus by H. N. Cheng, President-Elect of ACS. H. N. is working with the Division of Small Chemical Businesses (SCHB) and the Division of Business Management and Development (BMGT). SCHB helps chemists working in small enterprises, including self-employed, with the legal, social, educational, legislative, regulatory, and economic aspects of their unique professional status. BMGT leads and fosters the community involved in the management and business development aspects of the chemistry enterprise.

One of the first programs to provide entrepreneurship education to chemists consists of two webinars to be presented on October 28 and November 5. They are:

  1. Starting a Company: Do you need a Business Plan?
  2. Starting a Company: Where Do You Get Funding?

These webinars address the challenges facing the founders of science-based start-up companies. Challenges that include the significant amount of funding – tens of millions to more than a billion dollars - required to move an innovation/discovery from the lab bench to commercialization, and, the length of time – from six to twelve years - required to complete this task.

Jim Skinner, Chair-Elect of SCHB, who will be presenting these seminars, is a “serial” entrepreneur. After a successful career in major multinational corporations where he rose to the position of Division President, he pursued his goal of becoming an entrepreneur. He then held the positions of Chairman, President, and CEO with three publicly traded companies as well as several privately held start-ups, and raised more than $200 million to fund these enterprises.

Jim will bring to these webinars real-world experience. He’ll share the successes and challenges of starting science-based companies. Through these seminars, scientists and founders will learn the important steps of managing the process of starting your company to achieve the success you seek.

Diane Grob Schmidt, 2020 Chair of BMGT and 2015 ACS President, will be the Moderator of the two webinars.

Both SCHB and BMGT have a history of presenting programs to support entrepreneurs and scientists moving into management roles.

SCHB presents programs at Regional and National meetings as well as at Local Section meetings. The seminars in these programs have included many topics of interest to entrepreneurs by respected leaders in their fields, including:

  • Launching a University Start-up
  • Commercializing Innovative Chemistry
  • Do you need a Board of Directors for your Start-up Company?
  • Contract Law
  • Careers in sales
  • How to be a Consultant
  • Intellectual Property
  • Cybersecurity
  • True Stories from Entrepreneurs

Looking ahead to the next ACS National Meeting and other Regional meetings, SCHB will be presenting a series of lectures built around the theme of “Lessons Learned From Starting a Chemistry Business.” SCHB has an active program of providing mentorship to entrepreneurs to support them in their efforts to bring their innovations to market. Consider joining members of SCHB on Friday afternoons for a video conference to discuss business.

BMGT has a focus on assisting chemists and those in the chemistry/biochemical profession to gain business acumen. Like SCHB, BMGT partners with other divisions as well as the Chemical Angel Network (CaN) to present programs focused on business education. Some of these programs include:

  • Technology Workshops
  • How to Capture an Idea
  • How to Get Capital
  • BILL Talks – a complement to TED Talks, where chemistry entrepreneurs, like Joe DeSimone, spark conversations on the business of chemistry
  • How to Work with the Technology Transfer Office

In the future, BMGT has outlined a five-year series of programs devoted to providing business and management knowledge to entrepreneurs and scientists moving into management responsibilities.

Entrepreneurs and chemists are actively moving into management across all of the scientific divisions of ACS. SCHB and BMGT are here to serve ACS members seeking business, management, and entrepreneurial skills. If you are interested in accessing the SCHB and BMGT programs as you move into a management role, contact a member of the Executive Committee of either division. We would be delighted to help you.

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

Copyright 2020 American Chemical Society (All Rights Reserved)

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