www.rdmag.com December 2013 R&DMagazine 61
are directly tied to developing new, market-leading chemicals and
materials for which higher margins can be achieved.
The factors driving R&D are distinctly different across different
types of firms. Large, multinational firms such as DuPont, Dow,
BASF and Bayer hold industry-leading positions, both within key
materials and in product applications across industries and markets.
These firms’ R&D agendas are driven primarily internally, with
emphasis on developing materials to meet future applications. There
also are key material-product dedicated firms such as Goodyear’s
rubber/tire research where the material application defines both
the R&D and the market. The industry also has a large number of
smaller, material specific firms whose R&D is driven by extensions
of their proprietary materials, and by key customer demand.
Lower-cost raw materials have dampened, but definitely not eliminated, continued R&D into the use of biomass feedstocks and the
production of bioplastics. Research has increasingly focused on
materials and applications where the “green” context adds value to
support the potentially higher cost of biomass-based material.
Throughout much of the chemical and advanced materials industry
“cost” is an overarching driver, as both material substitution and
global competition, in what are often commodity products, requires
firms to drive production costs to the lowest level possible. R&D
costs are also included in these budget equations, and 46% of industry survey respondents believe increasing R&D costs are becoming a significant issue and budget strains are making it difficult to
accomplish R&D goals.
Changing Technology Landscape
New technology development within the chemicals and advanced
materials industry is largely approached through in-house development activities (76%), supplemented to a lesser extent by both
industrial and academic collaborations.
Nanomaterials, a key focus of chemical and advanced materials
R&D, are expected to be even more important over the next three
years, with 80% of survey respondents citing nanomaterials as a key
area of technology development (a substantial increase from 67%
of the respondents in our previous survey). Similarly, biomaterials
will continue to grow in importance as a focus of R&D, with 56%
of this year’s industry respondents believing biomaterials research
will be a key development area, compared to just 38% two years ago.
Composite materials development provides a good example of
the unique market position of the chemical and advanced materials industry. Among chemical and advanced materials respondents
composites were viewed as the third most important future technology development area, cited by 47% of the industry respondents.
Among aerospace and defense respondents, composite materials
were cited by 50% of respondents as a key area for development.
Sources of Innovation
Chem & Adv Mat’ls sector All Industry Respondents
0% 60% 80% 100% 40% 20%
The diverse nature of the global chemicals and advanced materials R&D is
reflected in the chart. The largest U.S.
firm, DuPont, though currently smaller
than both Bayer and BASF, has been
growing at an annual average rate
nearing 15% over the past two years.
Beyond DuPont, the remaining Top 5
U.S. firms all have experienced growth
over the last two years. At around
8% of sales, Bayer has the highest
R&D intensity among large chemical
Corporate leaders in
chemical & materials R&D
2% 4% 6% 8%
2012 Corporate R&D Intensity
Top 5 Non-U.S. Firms
Top 5 U.S. Firms
Size of Ball Re;ects Amount in US$ of R&D Expenditure
Source: Battelle/R&D Magazine, Schonfeld & Associates, European Commission-JRC/EIRI