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 Akihisa Kakimoto, managing executive officer of Mitsubishi Chemical Corp.
With Mitsubishi Chemical having absorbed subsidiary Nippon Synthetic Chemical Industry Co. Ltd. as of April 1, Kakimoto noted that his company has added a research facility to its existing seven to make now for a network of eight such facilities. The plan going forward is to capitalize on the specialties of each of these facilities while creating synergy between them, Kakimoto said.
More specifically, Kakimoto explained the 12 technologies that Mitsubishi Chemical targets as the core of its R&D platform. Apart from processes for product evaluation, he said, the company’s common core technologies – including computational science and analysis technology – are dealt with at its Science & Innovation Center in Yokohama.
Mitsubishi Chemical’s other research facilities then handle molecular design technologies – including organic synthesis, inorganic synthesis, polymerization, biochemicals and catalysts – and functional design technologies, including those for composites, fiber spinning and film forming, molding, and coating and surface treatment.
Going forward, Kakimoto said that Mitsubishi Chemical intends to promote further cooperation between these technology areas. The hope is that this will lead to the creation of more new products and technologies.
This May, Mitsubishi Chemical plans to hold a Technology Week event focused on cooperation and synergy, Kakimoto said. The event will see researchers from Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp.’s (TYO:4188) global group companies gather together, using the event as an opportunity for networking.
In other initiatives, Kakimoto said that Mitsubishi Chemical is pursuing reform in terms of how its R&D work is carried out. Previously, Kakimoto explained, a researcher looking to raise his or her status at the company would find their efforts here to be largely influenced by their company position. But as of last October, Kakimoto said, Mitsubishi Chemical has introduced a more advanced professional system under which employees can focus on their research without regard to position.
Beyond this, Kakimoto revealed that Mitsubishi Chemical is also considering plans for new construction efforts at its aging Science & Innovation Center.
For efforts in the medium term, Kakimoto noted that Mitsubishi Chemical is drawing up a structure that will allow it to continue putting out new products and technologies going forward. One aim under this is to grant researchers additional freedom, looking here to see employees approach business with new ideas rather than stick entirely with the conventional ways.
And as part of Mitsubishi Chemical’s plans here, Kakimoto said that the company is considering the introduction of venture firms or an in-house fund, with the hope that this will cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit among employees. The idea here is that employee business pitches will be able to lead to the mobilization of the entire company’s R&D resources.