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Entrepreneurs Wanted

ACS Meeting News: Task force outlines path to 100,000 new chemistry jobs in 20 years

by Rudy M. Baum
September 5, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 36

Credit: Peter Cutts
Francisco (left) and Whitesides hold a press conference at the ACS national meeting in Denver.
Francisco (left) and Whitesides (right) hold a press conference at the ACS national meeting in Denver.
Credit: Peter Cutts
Francisco (left) and Whitesides hold a press conference at the ACS national meeting in Denver.

As many as 100,000 new jobs for chemists could be created in the next 20 years if the recommendations of the American Chemical Society Presidential Task Force on Innovation in the Chemical Enterprise are carried out, according to the task force chair, George M. Whitesides, a chemistry professor at Harvard University.

Whitesides spoke at a press conference held in conjunction with the ACS national meeting in Denver last week. The task force’s final report, “Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs,” was released at the meeting. Joining Whitesides at the press conference were Joseph S. Francisco, who as ACS president in 2010 organized the task force, and task force members Robert H. Grubbs, a chemistry professor at California Institute of Technology, and Pat N. Confalone, vice president of global R&D at DuPont Crop Protection.

“This subject is one that everyone on the task force feels passionately about,” Whitesides said. “Creating new and better jobs is the most important challenge facing the U.S. today.” Because many world problems such as climate change and sustainability require chemical innovation for their solution, it’s not clear why those new jobs are not being created. “ACS is prepared to address this question,” Whitesides said.

The task force focused on “job growth through entrepreneurial activity and creation of small businesses,” Francisco said. The task force report contains four fundamental recommendations:

ACS should develop a single organizational unit—a kind of “technological farmers market”—offering affordable (or free) help to entrepreneurs.

ACS should increase advocacy of policies at the federal and state level to improve the business environment for entrepreneurs and start-up companies.

ACS should work with academic institutions and other relevant organizations to promote awareness of career pathways and educational opportunities that involve or include entrepreneurship.

ACS should increase public awareness of the value of early-stage entrepreneurship in the chemical enterprise.

The report and its extensive appendixes are available at



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