Jon Prichard and Claudia Flavell-While explain IChemE’s role in supporting the innovation process
IT is natural for a learned society to want to engage with innovation – especially when there is a clear and present issue or problem that chemical engineers have the necessary skills to help to solve. This is not only the case during a pandemic, it is just as true when it comes to addressing climate change, water supply, improving the nutritional value of food, or considering the sustainability of a particular process.
Of course, we want to help. Members want to engage, and staff want to support those members to make sure collectively we get the best possible outcome.
To make it a smooth experience, it is important that the role, remit and the limitations of a professional institution in this process is well understood by all.
As a learned society, IChemE’s role is to promote the art and science of chemical engineering in all its forms. We do this in a number of ways including by providing a platform to connect people and to facilitate information exchange. Our overriding mission, in line with our Royal Charter and our charitable purpose, is to benefit the community at large – in other words, we act for the common good.
This means that when supporting innovation and problem-solving, IChemE’s role is that of the impartial convenor, the matchmaker between those with a problem and those who may have a solution, and the supplier of general information.
A trap to be wary of here, is being lured into the role of consultancy. A consultant is paid for their professional knowledge and will offer their client advice on how to proceed. A consultant will also have a written contract for each project which sets out the limits of their accountability, and professional indemnity insurance to cover any issues that might arise regardless.
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