Kuraray’s basic R&D policy and core research areas
Message from Management
Kuraray’s research and development began with the development of chemical products that could replace natural materials. The company started out by producing rayon filament, a silk substitute. Following the Second World War, it commercialized polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) ﬁber (under the name KURALON™), a synthetic fiber replacement for cotton and wool that was made from carbide, a resource available domestically. The company then applied the technology for vinyl acetate, which is derived in the production of KURALON™, to create PVA film, EVAL™ and other products, which evolved into the lineup of vinyl acetate products that make up the company’s core business today.
Now, 90 years after the company’s establishment, Kuraray’s research and development is at a major turning point. Kuraray has a unique corporate culture that is reflected in its mission, “For people and the planet—to achieve what no one else can.” In research and development, our job is to develop and commercialize materials the world needs in fields that only Kuraray can take on. To return to those basics, we are working to boost the success rate of research projects that reach commercialization by narrowing our research focus to areas where our strengths can be applied most effectively.
Under this policy, we have set targets for new businesses in peripheral sectors that are “within walking distance” from existing businesses. In sectors that are a half step or one step beyond our existing businesses, there are many themes with hidden potential. From there, we will steadily walk three or four steps ahead to expand our horizons into completely new realms.
At the same time, to improve the commercialization success rate, we have established a system that enables researchers to confer with sales staff and senior management to enable them to thoroughly discuss the selection and feasibility of research themes, and their business potential when they come to fruition. By doing this, we are aiming to boost the success rate, which is typically 3 in 1,000, to 8 in 10.
Since 2016, at the initiative of the Research and Development Division, we have taken steps to promote close communication with business divisions and overseas bases. In doing so, we have clarified the roles of each division and base, and identified new research themes. For the nearly 100 development themes that have resulted from that process, we are continuing work to examine the commercialization potential of each one.
By carrying out these activities faithfully and steadily, we will continue striving to benefit society through the unique Kuraray products we provide.
Senior Managing Executive Officer
Officer Responsible for Research and Development Division
Officer Responsible for Environmental Business Development and Promotion Division
●The Three Policies in Medium-Term Management Plan “PROUD 2020”
Strengthen and expand existing businesses
Along with the global expansion of our business, we are enhancing cooperation with business divisions to strengthen and expand existing businesses. Our focus is on quickly resolving product- and process-related issues faced by production and development bases, including those outside Japan, and further strengthening our IP strategy.
Establish and deepen core technologies
One of our most important technology strategies is to establish and deepen core technologies. In the current medium-term management plan, we will bolster R&D of catalysts and polymer materials.
We are strengthening R&D of catalysts because they are a key technology in the synthesis of monomers, the building blocks of polymer products, and we will develop and improve products to meet customer wishes and market needs more accurately.
In addition, to support further business expansion of polymer materials, our second core business after vinyl acetate products, we will focus on developing a new high-performance polymer by applying the core technologies we have cultivated up to now.
Promote new businesses
We will promote new businesses through the following product development projects.
- VECSTAR™ (liquid crystal polymer film)
- VECSTAR™ is a liquid crystal polymer (LCP) film we developed using our film forming technology. We are developing it for a wide range of applications where growth in demand is expected, including automobiles (in-vehicle electronics), 5G mobile devices and high-resolution cameras.
- Micro-patterned film
- This is a film that enables micro-patterns to be freely processed on the film surface. It is expected to be used in automotive HUDs that display information on windshields and in virtual reality viewing devices.
- CMP pads for semiconductors
- Made with our original thermoplastic polyurethane, this is a chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) pad used in planarization in the semiconductor manufacturing process. It is now being evaluated by customers in the medical device and automotive industries, which will be its main applications.
- Bio Hard Carbon
- This is a new plant-based hard carbon that exhibits superior durability and charge-discharge properties. We are expanding production facilities to meet expected rapid growth in demand in the automotive market, particularly for use in hybrid and electric vehicles.