Amid increasing uncertainty about the business environment surrounding Sumitomo Chemical Group, the role played by the chemical industry in solving social issues, such as environmental, energy, and food issues, is enormous, and our business opportunities are expanding.
Our research and development is based on the following basic policies.
- Early commercialization of development items
- Building the foundation of next-generation businesses
- Building and operating a system to continuously create innovation
- Promoting R&D based on business (commercialization) strategies and intellectual property strategies
Strengths of Sumitomo Chemical’s R&D
Sumitomo Chemical has been developing six core technologies by utilizing its technologies accumulated through a broad range of research activities over many years. The six core technologies are catalyst design, high-precision processing, design of functional organic chemicals and polymers, design of functional inorganic materials, device design, and analysis of bio-mechanisms. We are engaged in research and development to create new solutions to social issues and trends around the world by utilizing these core technologies. Based on our belief that “creative R&D is what will build a new era,” we will continue to strengthen our solution development capabilities.
Moreover, in addition to developing new materials, we are also emphasizing linkages with the business of materials solutions, which encompasses the development of downstream businesses and businesses of different industries. In order to quickly and efficiently apply the fruits of our R&D efforts toward the development of high value-added businesses, we will aggressively pursue technological collaborations with academic institutions and companies from other industries around the world.
Sumitomo Chemical’s Innovation Ecosystem Accelerates the Creation of Next-Generation Businesses
Sumitomo Chemical is building an innovation ecosystem (a system that continuously creates innovation) to steadily link R&D and business development in the four priority areas to the creation of next-generation businesses.
In each of the four priority areas, we have formulated focus areas for our efforts within four priority areas, have identified core technologies that we own and core technologies that we do not own, and we are acquiring non-owned technologies through collaboration with startups and academia. As for business competence, we are also supplementing the lacking areas with alliances and investments with outside companies and startups, considering designing a business model that leverages our strengths and thematizing. At each stage of promoting themes, we communicate closely with relevant internal departments, external partners, and customers, and appropriately reflect their feedback to promote research and development. We also thoroughly utilize digital technologies such as AI and MI*1 to accelerate development. In addition, we will incorporate new ideas and technologies that emerge in the course of theme promotion and dialogue with partners, and link this to the continuous creation of innovations.
- Materials Informatics
Stage-gate Management System
In considering thematization, the Stage-Gate Management System for Corporate Research Themes was introduced in earnest in FY2019, and research themes are managed in four stages, from the idea stage to commercialization. Phases 0 and 1, the initial stages, are combined as the "incubation" stage, and Phases 2 and 3, the more advanced stages of research, are designated as the "development and industrialization" stage. We will proactively incorporate internally proposed themes in the idea stage as Phase 0. On the other hand, we clarify the requirements for passing through the gate in each phase, and determine whether or not to pass through the gate through deep discussions not only with the research division but also with the business divisions.
This has enabled us to promptly create new themes and make decisions on discontinuation of projects, taking into account their future potential. In the past three years, about half of the research themes have been replaced due to the creation of new themes, interruptions, and transfers to business divisions.