US chemical society hopes lobbying on tax and R&D credits will boost chemistry entrepreneurial spirit

Laura Howes/Denver, US 

The American Chemical Society (ACS) launched a report this week that it says could lead to up to 100,000 new jobs in the US within 20 years if its recommendations are carried out. The report, Innovation, chemistry and jobs, suggests that the ACS support chemistry entrepreneurship at the early ’just had an idea’ stage to help develop the chemistry-based economy in the country. 

As well as setting up ways to promote entrepreneurship as a career and support early stage entrepreneurs with a range of expertise and mentoring, the ACS intends to lobby for changes to tax and regulation at both the state and federal level. 

Chemical innovation US

In 2010, Joseph Francisco, as ACS president, set up a taskforce called Innovation in the Chemical Enterprise to address the ’critical problem’ of job losses in the chemistry sector. The taskforce focused on job growth through small businesses and entrepreneurship. ’The US has been very good at fostering entrepreneurship, but recently it’s not been so good in chemistry,’ says George Whitesides, the Woodford L and Ann A Flowers university professor at Harvard University, who chaired the task force. When so many world problems - climate change, renewable energy and sustainability - need chemistry as part of the solution, he adds, it’s not clear why those new jobs are not being created. 

The report also recommends making the repatriation of income to the US less financially punitive. Francisco says that the recommendations in the report are ’actionable’ and they are already being followed up. ’We didn’t just want the report gathering dust,’ he says, and the ACS plan to meet with other science bodies, such as the National Science Foundation, to try and get the R&D tax credit restarted. The tax credit has lapsed 14 times in the past 30 years. 

’The current economy is making us very nervous,’ says Boulder Scientific chief executive, Scott Birmingham. In fact, adds Birmingham, the current regulatory environment makes it very hard to get going. ’I don’t think Boulder Scientific could have started up in today’s regulatory environment.’