The committee agreed that its primary audience should be the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. However, the committee recognized that this report would also be of interest to the academic chemistry and chemical engineering communities, the research community at large, and leaders in business and industry: each of these groups has an important stake in the health of the chemical research infrastructure. Another very important audience may be high school and college teachers, who may find the report useful in stimulating their students to choose careers in chemistry and chemical engineering.
The chemical research infrastructure. Chemical and chemical engineering research is being conducted at universities, in federal and private research laboratories, and in industrial enterprises. A large percentage of academic research is funded by the federal government, with significant additional funds coming to academia from industry and from state and local sources. Federal research laboratories have been strong contributors of chemically related energy, space, and defense technologies, and the U.S. chemical industry has long been a world leader in applied chemical and chemical engineering research.
There is a complex interrelationship among basic research (typically aimed at discovering phenomena and understanding the principles of nature), applied research (typically aimed at establishing applications for scientific principles or phenomena), and the development of practical products or processes for commercial use. It is often thought that basic research leads to applied research, which in turn leads to the development of commercial technologies. But the road to technology development is rarely so linear, and progress is seldom continuous. Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that basic research stimulates applied research and development, although examples exist for stimulus in the opposite direction as well. The increasingly strong interactions among our universities, government laboratories, and industrial research organizations are encouraging from the standpoint of efficiently converting research into technology. Recent developments in the assignment of intellectual property rights have contributed favorably to this trend.
Science and technology in a global economy. In our fast-changing world, the flow of scientific and technical information is analogous to the flow of funds in international commerce. Published scientific information is readily accessible around the globe, and the results of industrial research are readily shared among the international divisions of globalized corporations. Yet support of American research is fully compatible with globalization because it enhances the proprietary position of American companies and the preeminent position of American research universities.