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Catalysis Looks to the Future
Industry in the United States is faced with enormously high costs associated with environmental remediation, short-term financial performance, high interest rates, and global competition. At the same time, substantial opportunities exist for developing new processes and products based on still-to-be-discovered catalysts. Therefore, industry should strive for an updated balance between long-and short-range research, aimed at taking advantage of these opportunities. This would be facilitated by long-range business and technology planning; technology forecasting and trend analysis; a more stable commitment to strategic projects, joint development, and joint venture programs with other companies for risk sharing; and high-quality project selection and evaluation methodologies. The challenges faced by industry will require additional advances in the science of catalysis, as well as advances in instrumentation. To better achieve this goal, additional opportunities for developing meaningful collaborative programs in partnership with academic and national laboratory researchers should be pursued.
Two elements are recommended as essential:
Enhanced appreciation by academic researchers of industrial technology. Vehicles for this include
long-term consulting arrangements involving regular interactions with industrial researchers,
sabbaticals for industrial scientists in academic or government laboratories,
sabbaticals for academic or government scientists in industrial laboratories,
industrial internships for students,
industrial postdoctoral programs, and
jointly organized symposia on topics of industrial interest.
Increased industrial support of research at universities and national laboratories. Vehicles for this include
research grants and contracts;
unrestricted grants for support of new, high-risk initiatives; and
leveraged funding (e.g., support of the Presidential Young Investigators program.)
For Academic Researchers
Academic researchers have made major contributions to the fruitful understanding of the structure of homogeneous, heterogeneous, and enzyme catalysts, and the relationships between structure and function. They have