I had attended to a half-day introductory course about organic process development. Along this talk the speaker – I don’t remember his name; shame on me!- has shared with the audience his personal experience working in process development and scale-up. Besides, some examples from various industrial sectors and a problem session were included. The first slide of his presentation was used to talk about definition of Process Research and Development. According with the author, this is an important definition to be known because it can help to make a decision regarding the kind of job a person would like to do. Here, I flash back at the time when I was looking for a job outside the academy in Mexico City.
As far as I remember from the author talk, process research refers to to produce products of high yield and quality, whereas process development is more about produce a product in an engineering size. So that, we can rename the course as: when the chemistry meets the engineering chemistry. Anyway, the Instiuto de Ciencia y Tecnologia del Distrito Federal (ICyTDF) launched a program to promote companies based on Mexico City to hire people with MSc and PhD degrees to do Research and Development (R&D): Estancias de Jovenes en Empresas del Distrito Federal. The basic idea is that this ICyTDF pays the salary of the worker and the company has to provide the required infrastructure.
When I heard about this program, I was very enthusiastic to get involved on it. But it was the first or second year that this program was running, so by that time there were many deficiencies. One of them was a lack of a database of companies willing to take part on the program and with the necessary infrastructure. In my experience, probably I had tried to get in touch with dozen of companies in the area of materials chemistry on my own and just guessing which one could be interested. The number of replayings were less than five, most of them did not know the program and others weren’t at all interested. Then, I got in touch with the ICyTDF asking for a list of possible companies related with my area. I just got a list of the registered companies based in Mexico City.
When, I had no hope to find a place where to earn some working experience then I got a phone call from COMEX and a small company. COMEX is a US company dedicated to produce paints, resins and so on. They were interested in the development of a paint able to collect solar energy to turned it into electric energy. But, they weren’t sure the company will be interested in investing for the project. On the other hand, the small company was dedicated to wrap magazines in bags. The company was based in a small building and managed by two persons: uncle and nephew. The project was to develop biodegradable polymers. Of course, they were too interested on having me but they did not have an idea about what kind of infrastructure they needed and I think, they did not have interest into invest much money on it.
Another deficiency that I have had realized was the complete inexperience to plan a program of this kind. I mean, planning a project having into consideration things such as negotiating the budget needed or being able to find potential profitable output results to your employer, makes a lot of difference when you compare the planning of your PhD project. For this, you need to develop many transferable skills which are not at all contemplated for students and Institutions at a postgraduate level.
Well, I am tired to write rubbish, have a nice weekend!