The Chemical Daily recently conducted a round of interviews with the heads of R&D divisions of major Japanese chemical companies. For this installment, we talked with Norihiro Shimizu, director and senior managing executive officer of Denka Co. Ltd. (TYO:4061).
Shimizu said that Denka’s R&D division is looking to prioritize its management resources in the three growth fields of health care, the environment and energy, and high-value-added infrastructure.
In the area of health care, Shimizu noted that Denka is moving forward with development for vaccines and diagnostic reagents. The company’s efforts here are targeting higher sensitivity, speed and ease of use, as well as the ability to conduct multiple diagnoses at the same time, he explained.
Shimizu added that Denka’s health care operations also include genetic testing, with the company here examining gene mutations related to cancer to help in proposing optimal cancer treatments. The company plans to apply for approvals in this field before the end of fiscal 2019, he said.
Other health care efforts at Denka, Shimizu said, are seeing the company utilize technology for creating proteins within tobacco leaves, using this for ongoing efforts to develop vaccines targeting norovirus and other such illnesses. Meanwhile, he said, Denka’s Singaporean R&D base is tackling development of genetic testing reagents for the likes of tropical diseases and sepsis.
Moving to discuss the environment and energy, Shimizu said that Denka’s focus for energy lies in the automotive sector. He noted that the company has gained a reputation here for its diverse technological foundations, which include the likes of synthetic rubber, adhesives, circuit boards and heat dissipation materials.
Denka is now using this reputation as a base from which to pursue parts development alongside automakers and parts manufacturers, Shimizu said. He noted that the company is currently working with external partners on the development of products such as binders and conductive agents for next-gen batteries as well.
Looking more specifically then at the environment, Shimizu said that amid growing concern over the issue of plastic waste in the ocean, Denka is working alongside its subsidiaries to bolster technological development efforts aimed at lighter, thinner food containers. The company is also pursuing an initiative with a national research institute, he said, with the goal of taking the CO2 emitted from factories and other such facilities and using this as a raw material for the likes of carbon nanotubes.
And for the field of high-value-added infrastructure, Shimizu said that Denka is focused on creating diagnostic and maintenance solutions that aid in prolonging the lifespan of roads, bridges and other such public infrastructure. With regard to agriculture, he said that the company’s attention is on biostimulants, which improve the physiological behavior of crops. Denka has started studies here aimed at the commercialization of safe and highly productive agricultural materials, he noted.