A Brief History
Fourteen companies comprised the original membership of the Institute when it was formed in 1938, under the auspices of the National Research Council (NRC). Four of these companies retain membership today: Colgate-Palmolive Company, Procter & Gamble Company, Hercules Powder Company (now Ashland, Inc.), and UOP, LLC, formerly known as Universal Oil Products (acquired by Honeywell). Four of the first five presidents were from the six charter-member-company category.
Maurice Holland, then Director of the NRC Division of Engineering, was largely responsible for bringing together about 50 representatives from industry, government, and universities to an initial organizational meeting in February 1938 in New York City. The Institute was an integral part of the National Research Council until 1945, when it separated to become a non-profit membership corporation in the State of New York. However, association with the Council continues unbroken.
At the founding meeting, several speakers stressed the need for an association of research directors--something different from the usual technical society--and that the benefits to be derived would depend on the extent of cooperation by its members. The greatest advantage, they said, would come through personal contacts with members of the group--still a major characteristic of IRI.
In more recent years, the activities of the Association have broadened considerably. IRI now offers services to the full range of R&D and innovation professionals in the United States and abroad.