Lab Management Matters

Penny-wise, Pound-foolish?

Are lab managers being penny-wise and pound-foolish in not hiring contractors to perform work that needs to be done but that their own staff can’t handle in a first-class manner because they are already over-worked?   By the number

John K. Borchardt

Are lab managers being penny-wise and pound-foolish in not hiring contractors to perform work that needs to be done but that their own staff can’t handle in a first-class manner because they are already over-worked?

 

By the numbers

 

Many self-employed consultants and other experts seem to be starve for business and thus for funds. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of self-employed Americans grew from 15.7 million in 2007 to 16.3 million in July 2008. However, since then the number has fallen to 14.7 million in July 2011. Thus there are about 1 million fewer self-employed Americans now than when the recession began. The number of new employer businesses dropped 24 percent to 505,473 on an annual basis in 2010 from 667,341 in 2006. There would seem to be little doubt that the economy is currently constraining entrepreneurial activity.

 

According to Robert Litan, a vice president at the Kauffman Foundation, the number of new employer businesses dropped 24% from 667,341 in 2006 to 505,473 in 2010. (The Kauffman Foundation supports research on startup companies with the goal of promoting entrepreneurship.)

 

Brad Thomas, an analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. calls small business growth a missing link in the current business “recovery.” A lack of customers has forced many of these entrepreneurs out of business, according to Kristie Arslan, chief executive officer of the National Association for the Self-Employed.

 

There is another problem. A lack of access to capital inhibits start-ups and small companies that want to invest and grow in the U.S. according to Loren Steffy, Houston Chronicle business columnist.

 

Entrepreneurship Initiatives

 

The National Science Foundation is seeking to promote entrepreneurship with its new Innovation Corps (www.nsf.gov/i-corps). The NSF I-Corps is an effort aimed at connecting NSF-funded scientific research with entrepreneurs who can convert these discoveries into useful – and profitable – innovations.

 

The American Chemical Society Presidential Task Force on Innovation and Job Creation released their report, entitled “Innovation, Chemistry & Jobs.” This report is available for free online at www.acs.org/CreatingJobs). The report offers four recommendations to stimulate innovation and job creation in the US chemical industry (and supporting industries such as laboratory instrumentation). The ACS Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs (CEPA) and ACS Corporation Associates have requested funds to jointly sponsor an entrepreneurial initiative, which would implement two of the four recommendations. First, it will establish an educational program to guide budding entrepreneurs through the creation of new chemical businesses. Second, it supports formation of new chemical companies by providing access to the unparalleled informational resources of the Society, as well as other professional resources. These proposals have been approved and will be implemented in early 2012.

 

The ACS National Meeting in San Diego March 25 – March 29, 2012 will include symposia and panel discussions on:

 

  • Best Practices for Entrepreneurs
  • Chemical Entrepreneurs
  • Exponential Technologies: Disruptive Influences and Rapid Advances in Chemistry

 

San Diego program offerings from the Committee on Science include two symposia:

 

  • Emerging models for strengthening science education toward scientific workforce development: Blurring the line between science and business education
  • Entrepreneurship in Chemistry: Business Plan Presentations for Financing Start-ups

 

The Division of Professional Relations is sponsoring a symposium on Chemistry Education: The Case for Business Skills at the same meeting.

 

The ACS has also created the Chemical Entrepreneurship Council (CEC). CEC members include the Women Chemists Committee, the Committee on Science, the Division of Small Chemical Businesses, the Division of Business Development and Management, the National Collegiate Inventors and the Innovators Alliance. This self-organized working group intends to provide resources and skills to enable chemists to convert research results into commercially viable products.