Issue Date: November 6, 2017
Entrepreneurship and innovation
Entrepreneurship and innovation are two sides of a coin. Where an environment to realize innovations is present, entrepreneurs will seize the opportunity and find a route to get a project done. Contrary to what many believe, the most successful entrepreneurs are not the hardest working but the most innovative: those who see the ability to produce new ideas, provide better solutions, and pioneer new products as part of a continuum.
Entrepreneurship and innovation are some of the themes in this week’s C&EN. This is because, among other features, this issue includes our third annual 10 Start-Ups to Watch list, which comes close on the heels of last issue’s profiles of ACS’s 2017 Heroes of Chemistry. To assemble our 10 Start-ups to watch 10 Start-Ups to Watch (page 30), our writers and editors pored over the hundreds of nominations that we receive throughout the year to select 10 organizations that demonstrate “both innovative chemistry and the vision to use discoveries to solve important problems.” This year’s young firms are transforming fields as varied as agriculture, drug discovery, renewable products, materials design, and more. With the awareness that many new companies fail within the first three years, we have followed the organizations that made it into the 2016 and 2015 lists and update you on where they are now. Also, don’t forget to nominate for next year’s 10 Start-Ups to Watch at cenm.ag/startupnom.
In last week’s issue, we recognized those who received the Heroes of Chemistry Award earlier this year at the ACS national meeting in Washington, D.C. In contrast with C&EN’s 10 Start-Ups to Watch, Heroes (cenm.ag/heroes2017) acknowledges innovation and entrepreneurship as part of a team within a large organization as well as within a small start-up, so you’ll see individuals and some well-known organizations. These two features reveal the skills and characteristics required for success, whether you are at a company big or small: You need passion and perseverance sufficient to carry you through the innovation process from the initial invention and the challenge at hand to product refinement and scale-up. Excellent communication and decision-making skills are also crucial.
Entrepreneurs will also need to develop the skills to create a business plan, interpret a balance sheet or cash flow statement, and navigate patent applications. And then there is seeking funding from angel investors and venture capitalists.
Putting together a team with different experiences, viewpoints, and skills will also be critical. Your friends, family, colleagues, and fellow founders will probably agree that your idea is great and should be turned into a successful business. But we all know that bridging the gap between a good idea and a commercially successful one takes honest people whose expertise goes beyond the science into intellectual property rights, environmental impact, or policy landscape, for example, who can handle risk and ambiguity with optimism and confidence and are driven by the knowledge that they can make a real difference in the world.
To encourage innovation in the chemical sciences, we must evaluate the way we educate our professionals so that we provide them with the tools and knowledge to serve as leaders in the innovation economy. We must train them to develop the skills and confidence to create, scale, and deliver solutions to real-world challenges.
This issue is a celebration of innovation, for those who dare to dream of seeing their ideas turned into successful products and have the courage to make that happen.
Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
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