In an effort to strengthen its businesses in the United States, which have been growing steadily, and to reinforce its company-wide research and development capabilities, Kuraray Co., Ltd. has decided to construct a Research and Technical Center in the United States with the objectives of further developing the Company's EVOH resin EVAL and thermoplastic elastomer SEPTON, and serving as a facility for a wider range of research and development. This facility, which is slated to be expanded to function as the Company's main R&D center in the United States, will also eventually provide back-up for research and development capabilities covering poval, opto-screens, and other business operations that are growing in the U.S.

In setting up its overseas operations, the Company has always adhered to the policy of producing goods where they are sold. We are following the same policy in the field of R&D. That is to say, we designate the host country as the center of research and development of local themes and topics, and employ host-country personnel for local R&D. In accordance with this policy, a technical center was established in 1993 at Eval Company of America. Liaising with the parent company to prevent its studies from overlapping with areas being covered in Japan, this facility conducts R&D on specialized areas. One of its key specializations is the ongoing development of EVAL to make plastic automobile fuel tanks. Its work in this specialized area has developed a major application for EVAL that functions as a driver of application development, pioneering the way for Japan and Europe.

The U.S. plant for the thermoplastic elastomer SEPTON, which is located close to Eval Company of America, will go into operation in August of this year. As the United States accounts for one-third of the Company's SEPTON business, a technical center will become more important than ever in the development of new applications and products for the North American market.

From the perspective of conducting group-wide R&D, it is becoming increasingly important to have bases in the United States to step up the pace of research and development through the provision of improved capabilities in the areas of information gathering, market studies and post-marketing evaluations. In addition, it is becoming essential to strengthen further local R&D support and lateral liaison capabilities because, with the introduction of the in-house company system in April of this year, R&D for each business operation has come under the control of the in-house company involved rather than the parent company.

In view of this situation, the Company decided to establish an U.S.-based research and technical center that would possess three functions: product development of EVAL; product development of SEPTON; and cross-border, group-wide R&D.

1. Profile of the Research and Technical Center

1. Location

Pasadena, Texas (within the premises of Eval Company of America)

2. Buildings

A newly built two-story building with a floor area of approximately 2,200 square meters (when combined with an existing facility of 1,200 sq. m., the entire unit will total approximately 3,400 sq. m.).

3. Completion of construction

Autumn 2003

4. Total investment

US$8,500,000 (approx. ¥1 billion)

5. Employees

23 persons in 2003 (including 4 seconded Japanese)
30 persons by 2005 (including 4 seconded Japanese)

(In terms of organizational structure, EVAL will be under the control of Eval Company of America, SEPTON will be supervised by SEPTON Company of America, and cross-border, group-wide R&D will be assigned to Kuraray America, Inc.)

2. Objectives

  • To expand U.S. facilities devoted to cross-border, group-wide R&D, information-gathering, and market-development activities, and to leverage the synergy produced between R&D activities in Japan and elsewhere outside North America.
  • To reinforce administrative support and lateral liaison capabilities related to the R&D of EVAL and SEPTON.
  • To raise the efficiency of asset utilization by concentrating facilities, and to promote information sharing and enhance synergy by sharing office space.

3. Role and Function

  • develop new applications in the United States for EVAL and SEPTON as well as new products for those new applications, and to provide technical services for U.S. customers.
  • To develop new markets in the United States for other products (other than EVAL and SEPTON) and to gather related information.

(For referrence)

Kuraray America, Inc.

President Hiromi Maki
Head Office New York
Capital US$8,702,000
Employees 27 persons
Business Line Sale of opto-screens, dental materials and other products (other than EVAL and SEPTON)

Eval Company of America

President Nobuya Tomita
Head Office Pasadena, Texas
Capital US$4,150,000
Employees 95 persons
Business Line Manufacture and sale of EVOH resin EVAL

SEPTON Company of America

President Masao Mizuno
Head Office Pasadena, Texas
Capital US$35,000,000
Employees 46 persons
Business Line Manufacture and sale of thermoplastic elastomer SEPTON