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 Fumiaki Iwasaki, an executive officer at Tokuyama Corp. (TYO:4043) and general manager of the company’s Research & Development Division, Tsukuba Research Laboratory and Medical Associated Department.
Iwasaki first explained that Tokuyama has an R&D structure for each of four business units and conducts development here from a short-term perspective based on customer needs. At the same time, he said, the company is engaged in corporate research with the goal of setting long-term themes for each of these businesses.
Tokuyama’s current theme here is to strengthen its cutting-edge businesses, Iwasaki said. He noted that the company is then investing resources into medium-term efforts in the life sciences and specialty products sectors.
Particular focus is being placed on Tokuyama’s IC chemicals business, Iwasaki noted. Developing chemicals for use in semiconductor manufacturing processes, he explained, is perhaps the best way for Tokuyama to exhibit its strengths with regard to product purification technologies, as well as the company’s Metaclene series of tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) photoresist developers.
Tokuyama’s New Business Promotion Department plays a central role in exploring plans for future development themes, with the department crossing over borders between company divisions to achieve this, Iwasaki said. The department, he explained, gathers up information from across the company before matching prospective themes with customers.
Iwasaki then made mention of Tokuyama’s Taiwan Research Laboratory, which was established last year as part of the New Business Promotion Department. In working in the semiconductor sector, it is important to have direct ties with South Korean and Taiwanese manufacturers, he said. And while the company has already been able to hold dialogues with its South Korean customers by way of subsidiaries Tokuyama Korea Co. Ltd. and Hantok Chemicals Co. Ltd., it had not possessed these capabilities in Taiwan – which led the company to open this basic laboratory in the country, he explained.
Over in Europe, Iwasaki said, Tokuyama Europe GmbH has been making use of highly skilled consultants in the medical sector since last autumn. And with opportunities also appearing through industry exhibitions, the company is hoping to bolster its networking, he said.
At the same time, Tokuyama has signed an agreement with a consulting firm in the U.S. as well, Iwasaki noted. He explained that the plan here going forward is to get reports with a focus on the electronic materials sector and then use these as a basis from which to decide on development themes.