these data, because the sections in Chapter 4 will provide a more detailed analysis of the publication trends in specific subareas and will describe the relative position of U.S. contributions versus those of other geographic regions.


Chemical sciences and engineering have resulted in the most enabling science/technology combination to underpin technology development in every industrial sector, as a study sponsored by the Council for Chemical Research (CCR) has revealed.2 Indeed, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office data in the CCR report indicate, each industry builds on chemical technology as prior art. Furthermore, the CCR study has found that chemical companies with highly cited patents have stronger financial performance than companies with lower impact patents; their stock prices, operating revenues, and profits are 35%-60% higher, on average. Additionally, companies that invest in high-quality technology that continues to influence the technological directions of the chemical industry have the most favorable financial performance.

All of the above observations have a direct linkage with the capacity of the U.S. chemical engineering research enterprise to deliver scientific results for high-quality patents and produce first-rate human resources. In this section we will examine the competitiveness of U.S. chemical engineering research in producing technological knowledge for patents with high impact.

Clearly, a complete and authoritative study linking U.S. research in chemical engineering to high-impact patents, where impact is measured by the financial performance of the chemical companies driven by these patents, is an overwhelming task and beyond the charge of this panel. Most of the necessary information for such study cannot be disaggregated from financial results, which in their raw form are not available to the general public. Therefore, the Panel opted to generate indirect evidence by asking the following questions:

  • What is the productivity of U.S. chemical engineering departments in generating patents and how does it compare to the productivity of non-U.S. research institutions?

  • What is the impact of U.S. academic chemical engineering research in the formation of industrial patents? How does it compare to the impact of non-U.S. chemical engineering research?


Council for Chemical Research. “Measure for measure: Chemical R&D powers the US innovation engine,” 2005.

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