Innovate | AIChE


CCR shapes the conversation on cutting-edge chemical R&D by publishing influential studies and reports and addressing common issues that slow or inhibit innovation -- such as access to talent, intellectual property protection, sustainability and globalization.

The Value of Chemical Research -- Phase I, II & III

  • Phase I - “Measuring Up: Research & Development Counts for the Chemical Industry” 
    In 2001, the Council for Chemical Research (CCR) released its study, “Measuring Up: Research & Development Counts for the Chemical Industry”. This study, termed Phase I, addressed the void in quantitative assessments of the value of research by applying proven econometric and bibliometric methodologies in new ways to a particular sector – the U.S. chemical industry. The study’s findings, based on data from more than 80 chemical companies over a twenty-year period, concluded:

    • Every dollar invested in chemical R&D produces, on average, $2 in corporate operating income over six years – an average annual return of 17% after taxes. This return compares favorably to the weighted average cost of capital of roughly 8% for the chemical industry over the same timeframe.
    • Research funded by the federal government and other public sources makes significant contributions to new technologies in the chemical industry, based on citations in patent filings. The linkage of public funded science to chemical patents is higher than in most industries, at roughly six citations per patent, and is increasing.
    • This study was funded by 27 chemical industry corporations, laboratories, and government agencies.
    • Download slides 
  • Phase II - “Measure for Measure: Chemical R&D Powers the U.S. Innovation Engine
    In 2005, CCR released a second study titled “Measure for Measure: Chemical R&D Powers the U.S. Innovation Engine”. This follow-up study termed Phase II, addressed three specific questions: Does the quality of a chemical company’s patent portfolio correlate with its financial success?; Is chemical research and technology an enabling technology for other industries?; What is the time required from initial funding of scientific research to the first commercialization of new technology? The findings, based on a detailed bibliometric analysis of patents and scientific literature, concluded:

    • Shareholder value is significantly higher (35-60%, on average) for chemical companies with high quality patent portfolios, based on citation impact, innovation speed and links to scientific  literature.
    • Chemistry is the most enabling science/technology; it underpins technology development in every industry. Chemical technology is unrivaled in its reach and enabling capability for other manufacturing industries.
    • The time frame from initial public-funded basic research in chemistry to commercial scale utilization is roughly twenty years.
    • On the cusp of the nanotechnology revolution, chemical science and technology can be expected to expand its influence as an enabling force throughout the economy. Already, findings from phase I of this study show that funds invested in R&D sooner rather than later enhance profitability. However, the chemical industry, as well as other industries, still faces the seemingly intractable time lag from fundamental research to commercial fruition. The challenge to reduce this time-span is imperative in order for the chemical industry to enhance its competitive and prosperous posture in the global marketplace.
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  • Phase III - “Assessing and Enhancing the Impact of Science R&D in the United States: Chemical Sciences” 
    In 2009 a workshop—“Assessing and Enhancing the Impact of Science R&D in the United States: Chemical Sciences”—was convened at the National Science Foundation. Academic scholars and industry experts were invited to discuss the state of knowledge about the impact of science R&D in the United States, focusing on chemical sciences and related industries. The workshop participants were charged to advance the scientific basis for thinking about and beginning to answer the following four questions:

    • How can we measure the broad (economic, social and scientific) impact of scientific research?
    • What is the nexus between industrial and federal investments in science R&D?
    • How can an optimal portfolio of (public and private) science R&D investments be characterized?
    • How can economics inform the accountability process related to federal R&D investments?
    • An intended output of this workshop was the identification of useful and important directions for relevant future scholarship.
    • The Phase III report is organized around the four questions listed above. Relevant to each of these important questions is that R&D in the chemical sciences occurs throughout the economy, including in:
      • private-sector companies in the chemical industry
      • private-sector companies in industries for which advancements in technology are related to advances in chemistry
      • university research laboratories, and
      • national laboratories.
    • To generalize, chemistry R&D that is performed within private-sector firms is mostly applied research and development. Chemistry R&D that is performed within universities is mostly basic research and applied research. And, chemistry R&D that is performed within our national laboratories includes basic research, applied research, demonstration projects, and research leading to infrastructure technology.
    • With respect to each of the above questions, the Phase III report both summarizes the discussions at the workshop relevant to each question and points out a number of important issues that were neither fully discussed nor resolved.
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"The Future of the US Chemical Enterprise: How can US Policy Enhance Chemical Science Innovation?" (2010)

The Chemical Industry has recently joined the long list of US industries with a negative trade balance, and investments in chemical science R&D are following the migration of manufacturing to overseas. Chemical sciences are core competences for most industries and are vital for US efforts to improve its competitiveness and energy security. President Obama has proposed to increase US R&D investments from the current 2.6% to 3% of the GDP, but how can this be accomplished, and is it enough to reverse the tide? The Council for Chemical Research (CCR) organized a CTO Roundtable to bring together science and technology leaders from industry, universities and the federal government to discuss the Future of the US Chemical Enterprise: How can US Policy Enhance Chemical Science Innovation?  The Roundtable participants discussed some of the most important questions for the nation, including:

  • Does an increase in US based R&D translate into an increase in manufacturing activity in the US?

  • What type of tax and other incentives can the Federal government provide to encourage global companies to locate their R&D facilities in the US?

  • What type of tax and other incentives can the Federal government provide to encourage global companies to locate their manufacturing facilities in the US?

  • How can the Federal government encourage industry to increase its R&D investments in the US and contribute to the goal of the current Administration to increase total US R&D investments (public and private) up to 3% of GDP?

  • How can the Federal government accelerate US innovation?

​Leaders of the chemical science R&D enterprise from industry, universities, and government laboratories participated in this Roundtable.

CTO Roundtable on Graduate Education Report  (2010)

A gathering of leaders from industry, government labs, and academia met on December 13, 2010 in Crystal City VA to discuss the current state of Ph.D. education in chemistry, chemical engineering, and allied fields. The focus was on whether the current model still meets the needs of the employers given that a majority of new Ph.D.s do not end up pursuing an academic career. Graduate education has, for the most part, evolved slowly in the last several decades. However, the way industrial and government labs operate has changed drastically – and incoming Ph.D. talent often has to spend significant time learning and adapting to a new culture and system before becoming a productive member of the organization. While technical training remains strong, the softer skills, such as communication, teamwork and an understanding of research in a global and rapidly changing environment, are too often lacking.

The discussion focused around two questions:

  • What subject matter competencies are needed for the future? What is the right balance of breadth versus depth and how can we achieve it?
  • What behavioral competencies are needed for the future? How do we incorporate the soft skills into the Ph.D. training?

Download the CTO Roundtable on Graduate Education Report

"Harnessing the Department of Energy's High-Performance Computing Expertise to Strengthen the US Chemical Enterprise" (2011)

To stimulate the dissemination of DOE’s expertise in high-performance computing, the Council for Chemical Research (CCR) and the DOE jointly held a workshop on this topic. As a starting point, four important energy topic areas were chosen as the focus of the meeting: Biomass/Bioenergy, Catalytic Materials, Energy Storage, and Photovoltaics. Academic, industrial, and government experts in these topic areas participated in the workshop to identify industry needs, evaluate the current state of expertise, offer proposed actions and strategies, and forecast the expected benefits of implementing those strategies. Overall findings of the workshop indicate there is little current translation of DOE HPC expertise into the private sector. Furthermore, a number of limitations in HPC tools exist. Areas where additional development is needed include:

1. Creation and maintenance of databases, including retrieval strategies
2. Model development addressing aging/decomposition of materials
3. Model development explicitly for new materials design
4. Computing approaches that couple multiple time and length scales
5. Model development for charge carrier transport
6. Methods to handle uncertainty prediction and quantification.

Download the report on harnessing DOE HPC expertise

How Academia, Industry & Government Labs do Chemical Research (2013)

Research is an integral activity in a university, involving faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and support staff. It is primarily a vehicle to educate students and create knowledge. Expectations for faculty engagement in research scale roughly with the institutional emphasis on graduate education. Faculty members at predominantly undergraduate institutions develop research projects primarily to educate students. At large research-intensive universities, tenured and tenure-track faculty are expected to lead and secure funding that can support research programs involving several students and post-docs. There is an increasing pressure for faculty to spin out their discoveries as start-up companies with the view that universities are an engine of economic innovation. The prestige of a university is closely tied to its reputation in research and so the reward structure is closely tied to success in research. As a result, tension between support for excellence in teaching and promotion of research is evident on many campuses. While there is significant variability for the research environments across academic laboratories, there are common elements that are described in this study.

Download the report.

Intellectual Property Issues Affecting Industry-University Partnerships

On April 3, 2008, CCR hosted a workshop on Intellectual Property Issues Affecting University-Industry Partnerships. CCR members met to share information on available models and various approaches to forming partnerships in order to facilitate future collaboration.