Organization

Led by the Research and Development Division, the whole Kuraray Group works together to achieve our corporate R&D mission, which is to 1) Create new businesses, 2) Strengthen and expand existing businesses, and 3) Establish and deepen core technologies. In response to the rapid globalization of our business, we are strengthening cooperation with overseas bases.

  • Research and Development Division
    • Kurashiki Research Center
      Synthesis Research Laboratory, VA-related Polymers Research Laboratory, Analytical Technology and Solutions Laboratory, Battery Materials Research Laboratory
    • Tsukuba Research Center
      Polymer Materials Research Laboratory, Polymer Processing Research Laboratory, Film and Sheet Project Team
    • Molding Component Business Department
      Micro-patterned film
    • Vecstar Business Promotion Department
      VECSTAR (liquid crystal polymer film)
    • Functional Products Development Department
      CMP pads for semiconductors
    • Intellectual Property Department
    • Market and Business Development Department
    • Planning and Administration Department
      • KAI Corporate R&D
  • Business divisions
    • Research and Development Department

Research and Development Division

To contribute to the Kuraray Group’s goal of becoming a “highly profitable specialty chemical company with a global presence,” the Research and Development Division serves as the nucleus of R&D and new business development.

Our research institutions are the Kurashiki Research Center in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture and the Tsukuba Research Center in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture. In addition, we integrated the former New Business Development Division and established the Molding Component Business Department, the Vecstar Business Promotion Department and the Functional Products Development Department as units for promoting early commercialization of priority projects. We also organized the Intellectual Property Department, which is responsible for creating the Group-wide intellectual property strategy and filing and managing patents; the Market and Business Development Department, which conducts marketing for development themes together with the research centers; and KAI Corporate R&D, a base for technology scouting and information gathering, primarily in the United States.

Kurashiki Research Center

With a foundation in organic synthesis and synthetic polymer technologies, catalytic chemistry, VA-related polymer materials technology and carbon materials technology, the Kurashiki Research Center focuses on R&D of new businesses, products and technologies. As the analysis hub of the Kuraray Group, it also conducts global efforts to solve technical issues using analytical and safety evaluation technologies.

1. Establishment
The history of the Kurashiki Research Center began in July 1968 with the establishment of the Central Research Laboratory. At the time, Japanese manufacturers were beginning to establish central research laboratories one after another. Later, there were splits, integrations and transfers as the facility’s role gradually changed with the needs of the times, and in September 2012, it was reorganized into the Kurashiki Research Center, which comprises four research laboratories (for research of synthesis, VA-related polymers, analytical technology and solutions, and battery materials).
2. Characteristics
The Kurashiki Research Center adds new technologies to build on our base of synthesis technologies (organic, polymer and inorganic) accumulated in processes such as the industrialization of isoprene-related products and PVA fiber, the pioneer of synthetic fibers in Japan; catalyst technologies; VA-related polymer technologies; polymer composite technologies; carbon material technologies; and analytical technologies. It also conducts R&D of cutting-edge, novel products and serves as the Kuraray Group’s analysis hub in growth markets such as the environmental, energy, electronics and optics fields.
3. Research Content
Synthesis Research Laboratory
Using catalysts, precision organic synthesis technology and polymerization technology, this laboratory develops new gas barrier materials, high-performance elastomer materials and other products.
VA-related Polymers Research Laboratory
Focusing on materials and technologies related to vinyl acetate (VA), Kuraray’s core business, this laboratory looks a step ahead by exploring new developments in VA-related materials.
Analytical Technology and Solutions Laboratory
Through analytical technologies, this laboratory provides solutions to technical issues that arise in the Kuraray Group’s production, sales and development departments.
Battery Materials Research Laboratory
This laboratory conducts research and development related to battery materials, with a focus on carbon materials, and works together with the Carbon Materials Division to create new businesses in the environmental and energy fields, which are growing markets.

Tsukuba Research Center

The Tsukuba Research Center applies its core technical strengths in precision polymerization and denaturation, molding, polymer processing and computational chemistry to develop new businesses, products and technologies. In the Film and Sheet Project Team, it is developing acrylic resin-based high-performance films.

1. Establishment
Taking advantage of its location in relation to the Tokyo Head Office, Niigata Plant and Kashima Plant, the Tsukuba Research Center is our R&D base in eastern Japan. Operations are vertically integrated from basic research on polymer materials and polymer processing to product development close to customers. It originated as the Kuraray Tsukuba Research Laboratories, which was established in April 1994 on the site of World Expo 1985. In 2009, it was renamed the Tsukuba Research Center and established two laboratories (Polymer Materials and Polymer Processing) under the Research and Development Division that create and nurture the seeds of future businesses. In addition, the Film and Sheet Project Team (located in Niigata) and development staff from the Methacrylate Division, Genestar Division, Elastomer Division and other divisions have been assigned to the Tsukuba Research Center, where they are all conducting research under the same roof.
2. Characteristics
The Tsukuba Research Center conducts research and development related to processed goods, primarily films and new polymer materials, including acrylic polymers and isoprene polymers, and polymer molding based on composite technology and precision processing technology. Its goal is to create new business in growth markets.
It also functions as the development base for business divisions, and further promotes research and development through information sharing and exchanges with business divisions, the Technology Development Center of the Technology Division, and various other units. Its location in Tsukuba Science City facilitates technological and information exchanges, and its researchers have direct connections to domestic and international markets, making this a research center that is highly sensitive to market needs.
3. Research Content
Polymer Materials Research Laboratory
This laboratory researches synthesis and application of methacrylic and isoprene specialty polymers based on polymerization technologies, and conducts research and development aimed at enhancing the functionality and performance of elastomers.
Polymer Processing Research Laboratory
This laboratory studies ways to enhance the value of products through the creation of functional films such as decorative films centering on double layering, as well as processing technologies. It also considers and practices analysis and simulations with a focus that is not just within the laboratory, but also supports development across the Kuraray Group.
Film and Sheet Project Team
Based at the Niigata Plant, this team works on development of film and sheet products, with a focus on acrylic products.
Others
Business divisions take advantage of this location to conduct activities such as new grade development and customer service, according to their respective situations.

Molding Component Business Department

This department develops micro-patterned films using precision processing technology and precision molding technology. It also develops and sells films with optically optimized microlenses, which are used in high-performance automotive HUDs that can express augmented reality and head-mounted displays for virtual reality.

For amusement applications, this department sells a micro-patterned film with unique optical properties that refract and scatter light from LED sources.

In recent years, the department has been exploring uses and specific markets for this film other than optical applications. It is focusing in particular on a method of controlling tactile sensation by adding micropatterns to the surfaces of molded components.

Micro-patterned film

Production, development and research Kashima Plant, Tsukuba Research Center
Sales and marketing Tokyo Head Office
Markets and end users Electronics manufacturers (HUDs, head-mounted displays, etc.), lighting system manufacturers, amusement-related manufacturers

Vecstar Business Promotion Department

VECSTAR is a liquid crystal polymer (LCP) film developed using Kuraray’s proprietary technology. It has high frequency properties that make it well suited for high-speed transmission and high-frequency electronic devices, and is used in many printed circuit boards. The superior properties of LCP (heat resistance, dimensional stability, low water absorbency, flame retardancy, gas barrier properties, workability, etc.) make VECSTAR ideal for a wide range of applications.

VECSTAR (liquid crystal polymer film)

Production and development Saijo Plant
Sales and marketing Tokyo Head Office
Applications Digital appliance display modules, CCD cameras, antennas, in-vehicle millimeter-wave radar, etc.

Functional Products Development Department

In this department, we are pursuing business expansion based on our chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) pad used in the planarization process for stacking chips in the semiconductor manufacturing process, and our semiconductor process-related technologies. Our CMP pad is made from our original thermoplastic polyurethane, which gives a longer life than competitors’ products, as well as properties such as reduction of polishing flaws. It is currently undergoing evaluation by major customers in Japan and overseas for further sales growth.

To promote global business development, this department is focusing on multifaceted sales activities, technical measures, high-performance monomers aimed at differentiation of functions, polymer design, and collaboration with universities.

Production, development and research Kurashiki Plant
Sales and marketing Tokyo Head Office
Markets and end users Semiconductor manufacturers in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, the United States and Singapore

Intellectual Property Department

Kuraray has made respect for intellectual property1 a fundamental principle. Since fiscal 2003, Kuraray’s Intellectual Property Department has been engaged in the creation, protection, and use of intellectual property based on a three-in-one strategy encompassing business, R&D and intellectual property. Its objective is to strengthen and accelerate business and R&D in line with the Kuraray Group’s management strategy.

Specifically, the department proposes business and R&D strategies while seeking to minimize business risk, and monitors the patent portfolio2 (PPF) and patent clearance3 (PC) for the entire company.

As one measure to strengthen its infrastructure for invention, Kuraray has established and is expanding a patent indemnity and incentive award system to increase incentives for researchers to make new discoveries.

  • Intangible inventions, ideas, concepts, and goodwill protected under patent laws, the Utility Model Law, the Trademark Law, the Design Law, or copyright laws
  • Compares and analyzes the patent portfolios of Kuraray and other companies with regard to specified fields and products, for the purposes of:
    • Evaluating the technological characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of intellectual property
    • Proposing various strategies (establishing R&D themes, evaluating commercialization potential, developing business, planning for patent applications)
    • Clarifying matters pertaining to patent rights for technologies that Kuraray plans to use and the patent portfolios of other companies, as well as evaluating business and R&D methodology.
    • Reducing commercialization risks by proposing and implementing measures to eliminate or avoid problems in obtaining patent license agreements.

Market and Business Development Department

This department’s mission is to create new businesses based on the policies of the Research and Development Division. Specifically, it is building a development strategy related to development themes in cooperation with research centers, internal companies and business divisions. Its functions also include planning and execution of marketing strategies and public relations.

Planning and Administration Department

As the strategic department of the Research and Development Division, this department conducts comprehensive planning, promotion, adjustment and administration for the division overall, and helps to ensure that R&D matches business strategy and leads to success. Its work encompasses creation of new businesses and strengthening and expansion of existing businesses; planning and coordination of collaboration with outside partners; optimal resource allocation and human resource development for corporate research; division management; management of R&D themes under the control of the division; and ensuring safety.

KAI Corporate R&D

KAI Corporate R&D assigns employees to the Kuraray Research and Technical Center (KRTC), our U.S. development base located in Houston, Texas. It provides support for businesses and production and development bases in the United States, cooperates with research centers in Japan, and promotes collaboration with local universities for new business development.

Employees are also assigned to Silicon Valley in California to scout startups that are using local venture capital.

R&D Units under the Direct Control of Business Divisions

These units work to expand business by boosting efficiency in R&D and technical service related to the products of each division. They also make product improvements according to customer requests, and further evolve the technologies that are fundamental to each division’s business continuity.

Main Functions

Market Expansion
  • Research and development of new products
  • Application development
Improvement of Product Competitiveness
  • Research on improvement
  • New manufacturing methods
  • Research and development of new processing technologies
  • Analysis and evaluation of rival products and technologies
  • Technical service for customers
Advantageous Management of Intellectual Property
  • Patent applications and acquisition of rights
  • Measures to respond to other companies’ patent applications
  • Gathering and management of patent information
  • Conclusion, implementation and management of technology-related agreements