William Banholzer

William Banholzer

Years at WID

2016 - present2018


In the fall of 2013 Banholzer joined the University of Wisconsin following a 30-year career in industrial research. At UW Banholzer has appointments in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, Chemistry Department and the Wisconsin Energy Institute. He retired from Dow Chemical where he was an Executive Vice President leading Dow’s Venture Capital, New Business Development, Licensing activities, and served as Dow’s Chief Technology Officer. In addition, he served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Dow Corning Corporation, chairing the Corporate Responsibility Committee. Banholzer also served on the Dow AgroScience’s Members Committee and the Dow Foundation Board of Directors.

In his previous position Banholzer managed a portfolio of research programs with an annual budget of $1.7B. He set and executed the vision for science and technology at Dow. Under his leadership the value of Dow’s innovation pipeline tripled from $10B to over $32B. Banholzer’s efforts to accelerate Dow’s technology development were recognized by R&D Magazine, where Dow was ranked in the top ten for R&D in all industries, and a recent Booz Allen study ranked Dow’s innovation portfolio management as “Best in Class.” Thomson Reuters recognized Dow for the third year in a row as one of the top 100 Innovators. Banholzer received the Industrial Research Institute’s Holland Award for R&D management, the Council of Chemical Research’s Pruitt Award for his innovative approach to research collaborations, the ACS Earl B. Barnes Award, the AIChE Agile award, the University of Illinois LAS Alumni Achievement Award, the NAE’s Bueche Award, and has presented numerous invited lectures around the world. While at Dow Banholzer initiated $250 MM university research collaboration and championed the Dow Safety Academy to help improve university safety which was recognized with the 2013 Chemicl Engineering and ChemInnovations Award.

Banholzer has a strong history of technical excellence and innovation, spanning his more than 30 years of industrial experience. He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2002. In 2006 he was elected by the Academy membership to serve a 3 year term as one of 12 councilors comprising the governing body of the NAE. Banholzer currently serves on the Board on Energy and Environmental Sciences and has served on many advisory boards. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Banholzer had a 22-year career with General Electric Company (GE) prior to joining Dow. He left GE as vice president of Global Technology at GE Advanced Materials, where he was responsible for worldwide technology and engineering. He joined GE in 1983 as a staff chemical engineer in the company’s Corporate Research and Development Laboratory where he held several leadership positions prior to joining the Superabrasive business. Banholzer was elected a company officer and moved to GE Lighting as vice president of Global Engineering in 1997. He transferred to GE’s Advanced Materials business as the vice president of global technology in 1999. During his GE career, Banholzer was honored with GE’s Bronze, Silver,and Gold Patent Awards; GE Superabrasives’ Leadership Award; GE Plastics’ CEO Six Sigma Award; and election to the Whitney Gallery of Technical Achievers.


  • B.S., Chemistry with Math emphasis, Marquette University
  • M.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
  • Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign

Research Description

William Banholzer’s  interest centers on the commercialization of technology.  For society to benefit from a discovery it must be commercialized, typically through a company.  There is a fundamental difference between technologies that are possible and those that are practical.  Banholzer enjoys research on materials  and process development with emphasis on the intersection with business opportunities.


American Chemical Society

Selected Publications

  • Mark E. Jones and William F. Banholzer; “Solar flux, water, and land impose limits on biology”, Biotechnology and bioengineering, 111(6), June 2014, pages 1059-1061.
  • William Banholzer and Mark Jones, “Possible versus practical”, Chemistry World, October 2013, page 41.
  • William F. Banholzer and Mark E. Jones, “Needed: ChEs to Solve Global Problems”, Chemical Engineering Progress, August 2013, page 15.
  • William F. Banholzer and Mark E. Jones, “Perspective: Chemical engineers must focus on practical solutions”, AIChE Journal, Volume 59, Issue 8, August 2013, pages 2708–2720. DOI: 10.1002/aic.14172
  • William F. Banholzer, “Solar Powered Cars? Clean Energy Hype Needs a Sober Dose of Reality”, Forbes.com/opinions, invited commentary, August 16 (2012) [http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/08/15/solar-powered-cars-clean-energy-hype-needs-a-sober-dose-of-reality/]
  • William F. Banholzer, “Practical Limitations and Recognizing Hype”, Energy and Environmental Science, 5, no. 2 (2012): 5478-5480. DOI: 10.1039/C2EE03146A.
  • William F. Banholzer, Laura J. Vosejpka, “Risk Taking and Effective R&D Management”, Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Vol. 2, p 173 (2011).
  • William F. Banholzer, “Creating Value in Turbulent Times”, Research-Technology Management, Vol. 53, Issue 1, p 23.