In my role as CAS’s business development manager for the UK and Ireland, I have the privilege of talking to business and R&D leaders across many industry sectors about how they are tackling the challenge of accelerating growth in their innovation pipeline. Across industries, it is clear that these leaders struggle to balance lofty innovation aspirations with everyday resource constraints.
Though this challenge is important in all fields, it is maybe most urgent in areas such as healthcare, the environment, and agriculture wherein innovation is desperately needed to address life and death challenges across the globe. In alignment with our vision of “Improving People’s Lives Through the Transforming Power of Chemistry”, which we share with the entirety of the ACS, CAS is proud to partner with organizations driving innovation in these important areas by leveraging the value of the world’s published scientific information to help them get to those ah-ha moments and empowering them to deliver on their promise for society.
Moore’s Law for Information
In 1965, Gordon Moore predicted that the world’s computing power would double approximately every two years as the number of transistors that can be placed on a computer chip grew exponentially. That is now known as Moore’s Law, and the timeframe for that doubling has now decreased to about 18 months. As the field of electronics has grown, so have the number of researchers working in the field. There are 18 times more researchers in this field than there was in the early 1970s.
As specialists in scientific information solutions, CAS has a unique viewpoint on how global scientific research across fields is growing and evolving. We are observing trends which mirror Moore’s Law across the overall body of published global scientific research. The CAS content collection, which has been built by our team of scientists over the last 100 years, demonstrates that the volume, complexity and interconnectedness of the world’s published research is growing at a nearly exponential rate.
Access to the discoveries of other researchers is critical to efficiency in innovation. It ensures that one research team can build on the learnings of another. However, this rapid growth in the volume of information makes it extremely difficult for unaided researchers to zero in on the most impactful and relevant information for their R&D needs. Overcoming this challenge to get researchers to the valuable insights they need quickly is the focus of CAS solutions such as SciFindern. One booming research sector facing this challenge is bioplastics.
Urgent Innovation in Bioplastics
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment Spring 2019 Report notes that more than 8 million tons of plastic packaging are produced every year. The environmental impact of all of this plastic and its production as well as need for additional ways to dispose of it safely are driving rapid growth in research related to plastic degradation as well as bioplastic alternatives.
A search in SciFindern shows an explosion in research on synthetic plastic degradation and bioplastics as shown below. We can also see that this research is distributed globally, with publications in 17 languages, and spans both academic and commercial organizations. In particular, the growth rate of patents being filed related to these technologies documents an urgent focus on combatting this growing problem and capturing the associated commercial potential.
Agarose bioplastic (CAS Registry number 9012-36-6), for example, is a frequently studied high-strength biopolymer that offers countless opportunities in developing alternatives to petroleum-based plastics for consumer applications. However, with all these opportunities comes lots of information. A search in SciFindern for agarose bioplastics provides almost 100,000 references. This represents a very rich landscape for mining new innovations using SciFindern, and the chemically intelligent relevance engine as well as state of the art filtering and sorting tools allow researchers to find the specific insights they need to advance their specific projects. For example, we can clearly see applications that vary from biodegradable composites to biocompatible drug delivery vehicles.
Researchers are also highly focused on post-market disposal of these new plastic alternatives. Though these biodegradable alternatives have been heralded as a cure-all for plastic waste, there are still challenges to realizing that potential in real world applications. This is a very complex area of research because the degree and speed of degradation of bioplastics depends on several factors; including but not limited to the environment, environmental conditions, application of bioplastic-degrading microorganisms and so on. With the assistance of a whole new caliber of chemically intelligent scientific search technology, researchers can unlock new ideas expeditiously to help companies achieve the breakthroughs they need to unlock the next significant advances required in this field.
Do You Hold the Key to Unlocking R&D Innovation?
These are just two simple examples of the perspective that can be quickly gained from a high-quality information resource at your fingertips. The volume of published research and related data is growing rapidly across most fields, and this is especially true in high-investment fields such as bioplastics. Do you have a strategy to keep ahead of this trend and capture the potential of the insights hidden in this information to expedite your research work and unlock new innovation possibilities for you? Take the opportunity to consider if you are maximizing the value of information strategy. Are you allocating appropriate resources to unlock these untapped opportunities? If the answer to the question could be no, then reach out to CAS.