Innovation is the lifeblood of our business and the ultimate competitive advantage. Our customers’ industries are fast moving and technically demanding, so we must generate new materials which are aligned to their evolving needs and enable us to grow our revenue. Our products are vital to our customers’ success, so we work closely with them, and others, to develop new products and maximise the effectiveness of our R&D.
Big R and Big D
In order to structure, monitor and maximise the effectiveness of our R&D investment, EMD Performance Materials has established the “Big R, Big D” model.
In the initial stages of a project, which we call “Big R”, our focus is on research and exploration – basically understanding and developing custom chemistry platforms for the area of interest. The timescales involved are relatively long when compared to the development phase, and it is more important in Big R to be based close to our technology partners and innovators than it is to be near to our customers.
The development stage, which we call “Big D”, is an iterative process where success often depends on the number of learning cycles that we can complete in the time available. Here, the focus is on converting the chemistry platform into a product, and then fine tuning and adapting it to specific customer requirements. We do a lot of this work at our R&D centres in Asia since, with some 80% of our revenue derived from that region, it is important to locate programmes near to our customers when a product is in the Big D stage (and nearing market introduction) to allow quick turnarounds.
EMD Performance Materials has six R&D centres of excellence – two focused on Big R in Germany and the USA, with the remaining four in France, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, focused on Big D.