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American Chemical Society Launches Program To Assist Chemical Entrepreneurs

by Madeleine Jacobs
July 30, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 31

Credit: Peter Cutts Photography
Madeleine Jacobs
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

The American Chemical Society has launched a new two-year pilot program to assist chemical entrepreneurs. Known as the ACS Entrepreneurial Initiative, the program was created to directly respond to the recommendations of the ACS Presidential Task Force on Innovation in the Chemical Enterprise report “Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs” to provide entrepreneurs with resources “that should foster the creation of small companies from start-ups” (C&EN, Nov. 7, 2011, page 47).

The pilot program provides ACS members with an opportunity to explore a viable, alternative career track and also assists members with information that broadens their business acumen and better enables them to commercialize ideas that stimulate U.S. job growth.

The initiative has two key parts: the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) and the Entrepreneurial Resources Center (ERC). For ETP, ACS has partnered with the Kauffman Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing entrepreneurship as one of the fundamental aspects of life in the U.S. The partnership enables members to attend Kauffman FastTrac courses around the country to learn about entrepreneurship. To date, ACS has granted scholarships to 29 budding entrepreneurs to attend FastTrac courses. Twenty chemical start-up companies have been granted admission into ERC. Members involved in both of these programs have full access to all ACS journals and to Chemical Abstract Service’s SciFinder at no cost. Members in ERC may also access experienced chemical entrepreneurs as mentors, business advisers, and potential investors.

If you are interested in ETP or ERC, please apply through the Entrepreneurial Initiative website ( The application period for the next group of participants for both programs will open in October. Those accepted to participate in the next round of the programs will be admitted on Jan. 4, 2013.

The Chemical Entrepreneurs section of the ACS Network is also new and is part of the Entrepreneurial Initiative. Chemical entrepreneurs now have a central location within the ACS Network to browse for news, find key professional service providers, get training, or obtain other valuable resources that can help advance their chemical start-ups. The Chemical Entrepreneurs forum is designed to benefit all entrepreneurs, regardless of development stage. To see what is available, log in to the ACS Network at and choose “Chemical Entrepreneurs” from the “Your Profession” menu.

This assembly of information and resources for small businesses and start-ups is free to ACS members and supported on a collaborative, open platform that encourages ongoing expansion and development in the chemical enterprise. Suggestions for improvements to the site are encouraged. If you see something that should be added or modified, post your suggestions to the site, or e-mail them to

If you provide services such as consulting, marketing, intellectual property law, equipment sales, or contracting, I hope that you will list your services for your benefit and for that of our budding entrepreneurs who could use your talents and efforts. If you are an entrepreneur starting your business, I hope that you will find the resources available through the Chemical Entrepreneurs section of the ACS Network to be useful. Please list your organization to raise your profile and to participate in this new community.

As with most chemical endeavors, this is an experiment. As we receive data and feedback from those participating, we’ll be modifying our approach. Through these and other programs, it is our intent to spawn a vibrant ecosystem of chemical entrepreneurs, service providers, educators, and investors. The Chemical Entrepreneurs forum is the portal to make it possible.

Although the Entrepreneurial Initiative was launched only a few months ago, it has already received praise from participants and the greater chemical community. The initiative is also being recognized by the American Society of Association Executives with its highest honor for an association, the Summit Award. ACS will be one of six associations to receive a 2012 Summit Award during the Power of A Awards program on Oct. 5.

ACS committees and technical divisions are also getting involved at a grassroots level. Many of these groups are coordinating their efforts through the Chemical Entrepreneurship Council (CEC), a self-assembled coalition of ACS groups and their partners advocating for entrepreneurship in the chemical sciences. The divisions of Small Chemical Businesses and Business Development & Management, the Committee on Science, and CEC organized programming during the ACS national meeting in San Diego as well as for several ACS regional meetings around the country. You can find a listing of programming for the upcoming ACS national meeting in Philadelphia in the members-only Knowledge Center within the Chemical Entrepreneurs section of the ACS Network.

Entrepreneurs are an integral part of the future of our industry, so I encourage you to get involved by starting your own company, licensing your technology, or supporting your entrepreneurial colleagues. Chemistry is the industry that built the American economy. It is time for us to build it up again, and ACS has a critical role to play.



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