The IUPAC Company Associates (CA) program has a long history in IUPAC and was designed to provide a connection between chemical companies, the National Adhering Organizations (NAOs), and IUPAC activities. The purpose was to provide a mechanism to engage industrial chemists with IUPAC activities, emphasizing the “Applied” in the IUPAC name. The CA program was intended to provide two-way communication about the needs of industry and the needs of IUPAC and its member organizations.
Under the current scheme, NAOs are responsible for recruiting and communicating with Company Associates. The NAO may set CA dues at an appropriate level to support national activities. The IUPAC Secretariat provides invoicing and some tracking of membership and receives a flat fixed fee for each member company from the NAO. For several years, companies that sponsored IUPAC conferences were provided with one year free CA membership and few of those memberships were converted into paid memberships. Although IUPAC continues to recruit sponsors for many programs, and industrial chemists are often engaged in specific projects and activities, the CA scheme lost focus and has decayed. Approximately 10 years ago, an attempt to centralize the process was discussed but not implemented. The number of member companies has decreased annually and only about 25% of NAOs have one or more Company Associates. Effective programs are still found in specific countries whose NAO manages recruitment, communications, and programming at a national level.
To reverse the trend of decreasing engagement with CA scheme, the Committee on Chemistry and Industry (COCI) launched a three-phase project to assess the current status via the voice of the customer, provide options for reengineering the CA scheme and strategy, build IUPAC support for this strategy, and develop an implementation program.
From the Voice of the Customer survey, COCI input was gathered from all IUPAC governance units. Over half the respondents felt that engagement with industry was strong or medium. The key benefits of the CA program for IUPAC identified in the survey were the engagement of industrial chemists in defining needs and project opportunities, executing projects, and using the output of IUPAC projects. These outputs include workshops, symposia, technical reports, and standards. Financial support was also a clear benefit. The benefits for industry were also identified and included project outputs, nomenclature and standards, technical publications, outreach, and education. Most readers can identify IUPAC outputs that are essential to international commerce, such as nomenclature, atomic weights, standards, and terminology.
Several opportunities for improving the CA scheme were identified, including communication, invoicing, tracking, building the IUPAC brand, and the program infrastructure. Phase 2 of this project will focus on developing scenarios for an updated CA scheme. Each scenario will involve options that have costs and benefits. For example, the recruiting and tracking of Company Associates could range from exclusive ownership by NAO to exclusive ownership by the IUPAC Secretariat, with options for collaboration falling between these extremes. Factors influencing scenario selection may include the availability of resources, challenges managing engagement of multi-national companies, national programs benefiting from an NAO, communication issues, etc. The project team will develop these scenarios and solicit feedback from the NAOs, IUPAC leaders. Results of the project are expected to be delivered in 2016.