MUMBAI — In an effort to increase its footprint in the Asia Pacific region, German chemical company BASF SE this week broke ground on a new innovation campus in its Thane facility, on the outskirts of Mumbai.
BASF anticipates huge growth prospect in the region.
“We are investing 50 million euros [$61.8 million] in the new R&D center in Thane, which would be operational in the beginning of 2017,” said Vice Chairman Martin Brudermüller, in remarks at the event.
The investment is part of a 10 billion euro ($12.3 billion) investment in the Asia Pacific region by 2020. BASF said “a significant portion of around 20 percent would likely to be spend on various ongoing projects in India.”
BASF already has an R&D center in Shanghai, which opened in 2012.
Brudermüller told Plastics News: “We strongly believe that the time has come when we have to hike our presence in this market. Our business has grown to a certain level from where we think we have to give R&D support to our growing customer base and expanding operation in India.”
In October, BASF a 150 million euro chemical complex in Dahej, India, in the state of Gujarat.
BASF has also revealed a second phase of expansion at its Shanghai center.
“We have invested 55 million euros [$68.3 million] in the first phase and will invest 90 million euros [$111.9 million] in the second phase, which would likely to be commenced in 2015,” Brudermüller he said.
Asked about future plans to boost its investment in India, he said: “It is a beginning, and we know that India is a promising market for us and more projects would come over a period of time and investment would depend on that.”
BASF has been consistently investing in the Asia Pacific region to hike its R&D footprint in last few years, with an electronics materials lab in South Korea, battery materials in Japan, mining in Australia and water treatment in Singapore.
The India center will hire 300 scientists to work on areas such as crop protection, process development and polymer research.
Elaborating on its plans in polymer research, Brudermüller said: “Polymer is a very wide broad term and all kinds of different polymers from dispersion to coating or painting a wall to parts of baby diaper to high-performance polymer used in the cars. We will identify and design which of the polymers have the major market in India regarded as front runners in various industries and we work on those kinds of polymers.”
To avoid overlapping work in the Thane and Shanghai centers, he said: “We will also see the kind of polymers we make in China and we do not have two teams competing with each other but two teams working closely on certain polymers that could be used globally.”
Currently, BASF has about 50 scientists working in its labs at the existing Thane plant and at its Chandevali site in Mumbai.
“The idea is to integrate our R&D set-up in India and operate from single platform. The Thane innovation campus will be a key hub of BASF's global research and development network and, next to Shanghai, BASF's second major R&D location in Asia Pacific,” Brudermüller said.
BASF aims to locate 25 percent of its global R&D employees in Asia Pacific by 2020.
BASF has a workforce of 2,254 in India at eight facilities, where it registered sales of 1.02 billion euros ($1.27 billion) in 2013.