at some point you start to get
interested in startups at USC, I get it at Stanford; there’s an old saying here that you can’t be a faculty member for five years
without starting up a company. But at UNC that’s not such a common thing to do. How’d that happen?
You know I think it was born out of frustration, in a sense. In the early 90s, we published a paper in
science for doing polymerizations of fluoroolefins in carbon dioxide as an
environmentally friendly way of making Teflon and cousins of Teflon. And we
licensed the technology to DuPont and this was an environmentally friendly way
of making Teflon and it avoided this persistent organic pollutant known as PFOS. People are familiar this is a really hot issue right now with
DuPont and other companies are dealing with that this compound is persistent in
ecosystem today. And we had a way, a process that eliminated the need for
doing that and replace water and organic solvents with co2. DuPont licensed it
and life was exciting. They built a 60 million dollar plant based on this. But they had plans to build hundreds of millions of
dollars more of plants but there were decisions made in the company not to do
this because they had entrenched interest and plants were
built and they were running they were making money. And it never saw the
potential it could have had. so you know If I had would have had that invention with this experience, that I have now we would have
competed with DuPont right. It’s this idea of being able to focus,
there’s nothing like singularity of focus, painting a new
vision for somebody and and having people want to join you in that journey.
Without entrenched interest we were focused we were going to do this and I
felt that that gave us the ability to really do things. So startups became
mostly out of frustration.