Change drives the chemical industry—which in turn sparks more change.
Societies keep changing, just like the planet.
In the world’s fastest-growing regions, the middle class is gaining ground, burgeoning due to economic development and a steady tide of new city dwellers. Change is rolling through mature markets, too, where consumers demand extra value, high performance, and, increasingly, eco-friendly goods.
Change sparks innovation, which in turn drives more change. And the cycle accelerates. As the MIT Technology Review notes, it took nearly a century before telephones achieved saturation. Mobile phones reached that same point within 20 years.*
As people seek better lives, companies like Chemours must raise the bar, never settling for “good enough.” We must push the periodic table beyond its known limits (after all, it was just this past year that row 17 welcomed four new elements**). Ultimately, that means we must find new ways to harness the potential of the most versatile science of them all: chemistry.
Our Expert Corner
Hear more from CEO and President Mark Vergnano, about his take on innovation in the chemical industry.
Our Lens into the Future of Chemistry
Explore more topics and insights about how the power of chemistry can shape future markets and improve the quality of life.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Ever since the ancient Egyptians preserved food with sodium chloride (aka NaCl, aka salt), chemistry has enhanced everyday living, and still does. The science of preserving food has come a long way since the pharaohs. Refrigeration—made possible by chemistry—keeps food fresh longer and preserves it along the cold chain journey. Now we can transport that food to remote places all over the world. Chemours makes that process more sustainable with its Opteon™ line of low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. Deployed in everything from supermarket coolers to automotive air conditioners to refrigerated trailers, Opteon™ refrigerants have up to a 99% lower global warming potential than last-generation HFC refrigerants.
In mature markets, innovation is often driven by heavy competition and market needs. Brands seek an edge so they can stand out and gain market share. Consumers benefit from this competition and in turn expect greater durability, higher performance, and increasingly, greater sustainability from the products and goods they purchase—from mobile devices, to paints, personal electronics, and more. Chemistry makes this possible.
And chemistry shapes our future world too. Between 2009 and 2030, the global middle class is projected to grow by 172%, according to the OECD Development Centre. With that growth will come demand for refrigerators and air conditioners—as well as for a wide range of durable goods, from quality paints to more efficient cars. Chemistry will enable the production of these products and other modern conveniences that make life better, and it will find ways to help those products lessen man’s impact on the planet.
“A healthy dose of angst.”
Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum (even if that vacuum is in a laboratory). To move the industry forward, chemical companies must give strong support to research and development, while, R&D must be joined by a new pair of initials: D&I—diversity and inclusion. Companies need to recruit diverse talent to uncover more innovations, better the bottom line, and reflect the needs of all consumers served. In fact, diverse companies were 70% more likely to capture a new market, according to a Harvard Business Review survey.***
After all, diversity of thought and action drives innovation, and innovative organizations are nimble. Chemours may boast a 200-year legacy, but it proudly nourishes a diverse startup culture.
Change is often vital . . . and unsettling.
“Most milestone moments in life involve change and transition,” notes Mark Vergnano, President and CEO of The Chemours Company. “And while we may look back on them fondly, they almost always come with a healthy dose of angst. Change is often vital, and almost always unsettling. At Chemours, we’re embracing this idea of positive change and continue the hard work of transforming ourselves into a Higher Value Chemistry company."
Pursuing a “higher value” ideal is a noble goal for the chemical industry in general. After all, just a few years back, the field was ranked 15th out of 18 business sectors in the annual Edelman Trust Barometer (No. 18 being the least trusted industry).****
Yes, society can lose sight of all the good that chemistry brings, from necessities like refrigerants to frills like smart devices and local-area network cables for TVs. Still, we keep innovating. Whether the periodic table changes or holds steady, we’ll put it to work, improving the quality of life for billions worldwide.
* “Are Smart Phones Spreading Faster than Any Technology in Human History?” MIT Technology Review. May 9, 2012.
** “Four New Names Officially Added to the Periodic Table of Elements.” The New York Times. December 1, 2016.
*** “How Diversity Can Drive Innovation.” Harvard Business Review. December 2013.
**** “The Big Hit: Chemical Week for Edelman’s Chemical Group.” Edelman. October 3, 2013.