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BASF expanding footprint in Asia & North America

By: Satnam Singh

March 10, 2014

MUMBAI — Germany’s BASF SE is planning to increase its research activities in Asia and North America, with a target of doing half of its research and development outside its home base.

 “We have around 7,000 people working in one location in Ludwigshafan, Germany, and it is easy to operate when so many people are working in one location. But at the same time, we continue to look future growth market like North America and Asia Pacific,” Harald Lauke, president of BASF’s Biological & Effect Systems Research told Plastics News during an interview in Mumbai.

“Initially we used to be focused more on China but now India is emerging as another growth center in Asia,” he said.

The German chemical company intends to globalize research by conducting 50 percent of research in North America & Asia Pacific and 50 percent in Germany by 2020. Currently, it has around 750 researchers in Asia, which it would increase to 3,500 by the end of 2020. It has invested around 1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in 2013.  

BASF opened a new global Research & Development Center at its Thane, India, site with an investment of 2 million Euros ($2.7 million) in Navi Mumbai late last week. The R&D center would work on areas of organic synthesis, advanced process and formulation, research, discovery chemistry for modern agricultural solutions.

The center opened with 30 researchers, and will increase to 60 people by the end of the years.

He would not discuss specifics on increased staffing beyond that, but said the Mumbai center will produce for work done by BASF globally.

The India center is step towards BASF strategic goal to innovate from Asia Pacific for Asia Pacific and the world. He also emphasized working in close cooperation with premier Indian universities like Indian Institute of Technology and protecting intellectual property in the region and getting patents registered.  

The company also will open a battery lab in Japan, electronic material R&D center in Seoul and a technical service lab near Shanghai and recently bought a bio-tech company in California.

In addition to its R&D operations, BASF has doubled its sales in India in the past five years with 1.02 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in sales in 2013, making up about 2 percent of its global sales.

BASF opened a chemical catalysts plant in Mangalore in 2013 and is broke ground for a new site with expanded capacity for mobile emission catalysts in Chennai in December. That plant is expected to open in 2015.

 “We continue to look for opportunities in India and globally in areas where we find we could improve the technology by collaborating or acquiring, especially in areas of light weighting [and] energy consumption,” Lauke said.

BASF also is building a compounding plant for engineering plastics in Yesan, South Korea, set to open in 2015.