CEO: Biopolymer research needs direct funding

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LAS VEGAS — Harrison Yu sees lots of things wrong with how big business-and the U.S. government, support incremental innovation, but not breakthrough inventions.

Yu, speaking at Antec 2014, said the U.S. economy and the fledgling biopolymer industry has reached a roadblock. He advocated “direct funding” and research-and-development efforts for biopolymers — meaning funds for biopolymer specialists like his Bondable Biopolymers LLC, instead of “indirect” efforts through big resin and chemical companies that have a vested interest in fossil fuels.

The result, Yu said: “biopolymers have less than 1 percent” of the materials market, and remain marginalized.

Yu, the CEO of Bondable Biopolymers, has a reputation of something of a technical-conference gadfly, challenging speakers and calling out technologies he thinks have no chance. He read his April 29 technical paper, titled “Bioplastics Impasse: Invent or Innovate.”

Yu read straight off his PowerPoint slides, which were all text. His wide-ranging talk swung through big complex topics like innovation, government and terms like “scapegoating” and “bully dominated” — of resources for independent thinkers.

Yu said U.S. industrial innovation has become timid. “Vast teams innovate prior art rather than make breakthroughs,” he said. This has weakened the U.S. economy and forces some American inventors to take their developments to Asia and other countries, said Yu, who is a native of China. His company is based in Midlothian, Va.

He called on the U.S. government to allocate “massive resources” for big technological breakthroughs.