Degussa (China) Co. Ltd. officially opened the doors of its newly expanded, 3-year-old research and development complex in Shanghai.
Degussa is determined to tailor research and products to individual markets, said Alfred Oberholz, deputy chairman of the management board of Dusseldorf, Germany-based Degussa GmbH.
``Our R&D activities are concentrated not only in Germany, but also in the U.S. and Asia,'' Oberholz said. ``The establishment of R&D in China is based on the conviction that the most important drivers for innovation are the market and the customers.''
Degussa invested more than 22 million euros ($30 million) in the 269,100-square-foot facility, more than doubling the size of the original plant, established in 2004.
The investment includes a technical center with processing equipment for polymer engineering.
``Our old site was completely occupied,'' said Managing Director Markus Mayer. ``We have been growing very fast in China.''
In 2006, Degussa's China-based business grew 60 percent, bringing in 460 million euros ($578 million) in sales. By 2009, the company aims to boost sales in China to 800 million euros ($1.08 billion) annually.
Degussa plans to invest 100 million euros ($135 million) into China each year, aiming to expand sales even further. R&D will be essential in keeping the company growing, according to Mayer.
``In our business, sometimes it happens that strong local competition can destroy a market for us,'' he said. ``Our target is to continue to stay ahead of the competition.''
Degussa, which employs 2,300 R&D workers worldwide, long has seen R&D as an integral part of its China plans, Oberholz said.
``There is a Chinese proverb that fits this nicely,'' he said: ```Drill a well before you are thirsty.'''
When the original facility was opened in 2004, it was empty - Degussa's business units had yet to take advantage of R&D opportunities in the country, Oberholz said.
``We called that project `Project Tiger,''' he said. ``We called it that because we had seen that some of our business units hadn't had the courage to jump [on the opportunity].''
Three years later, the original facility is full. The added space, Oberholz predicts, soon will follow suit.