From this week's C&EN, an article by Linda Wang on entrepreneurship in chemistry. I found the section on Andrew Boal the most interesting and relevant to mid-career chemists:
Chemist Andrew K. Boal took this route by joining MIOX, a small firm in Albuquerque, N.M., specializing in water treatment technologies, in 2008. “I’ve done everything from making sales calls to doing a presentation of our technology directly to a customer to doing trade shows where I talk to potential customers about the technology,” he says. These experiences were eye-opening. “There are so many things that go into developing a successful technology beyond just whether or not your chemistry works that simply hadn’t crossed my mind,” he says.
Boal was previously a senior member of the technical staff and a postdoc at Sandia National Laboratories. “I didn’t really understand, before I came to MIOX, how a technology or a science or a discovery transitions from the laboratory to a product,” he says. “I can definitely say that I’ve gotten a better grip on some of the things it takes to be successful in the business world.”
What’s more, his entire perspective on R&D has changed. “When you’re doing R&D as an academic, you’re thinking about what’s the coolest thing you could possibly do,” he says. “In the business world, you have to ask the question, ‘What can I do that gives the most value to somebody overall?’ ”The article ends with a very nice list of different resources that ACS can bring to bear on helping members become chemical entrepreneurs. Also, a nice little ending comment from chemical engineering professor Eric J. Beckman on his small surgical adhesive company, Cohera Medical:
Ultimately, the hope is that these investments will also pay off in creating more jobs for chemists. For Beckman, that’s been his greatest source of pride. “I like the notion that thanks to something I did in the lab a long time ago, there are 30 people with jobs,” he says.That is something to be proud of.