Shanghai — Cabot Corp., one of the largest specialty black masterbatch and compound producers in the world, will establish a new application innovation laboratory in Shanghai.
The company announced the news last month at an event. The new Asia Technology Center facility will be staffed by an initial 30 researchers and scientists.
“This lab will promote the development of emerging technologies for a variety of end markets and reaffirms our multi-disciplinary research and development capabilities to drive innovation in key growth areas,” said Jeff Zhu, senior vice president and president of the Asia Pacific region.
Yakov Kutsovsky, chief technology officer and senior vice president of R&D at Cabot said in an interview with Plastics News that the Asia Technology Center will be crucial for Cabot to work with customers in an important market such as Asia-Pacific. Of the company's $2.87 billion revenue in 2015, 17 percent came from China, he said. “Speed is important [to serve the Asia Pacific region],” he explained.
Some long-term product development can take up to 5 years to make it to market, but “in China that is quite long. We'd like to develop something in about a year or so,” he said. “The industry is becoming more integrated, and [if] coming up with materials you can bring to customers takes a long time, there's a high chance of failure. Working very closely with our customers in China and working on joint development with them, we can leverage local manufacturing capabilities and we can move very fast.”
“The customers in China are much more open than in the Western world,” he added. “They let us in the labs and let us see how the materials are being used. That point of collaboration is very important.”
Kutovsky said he thinks that the global market may trend towards this type of collaboration in the future. “We need to keep in mind how people are using our material,” he said. “Not only can we help them invent the materials, we can also help them use the materials.”
China's “new normal” was a factor in the decision to locate the Asia Technology Center in Shanghai, Kutsovsky said. “[The slowing economy] pushes people to become more innovative… The slowdown becomes a separator between the winners and the losers. The customers who are leaders in their area need more innovation.”
The Asia Technology Center is set to open in August of next year in Cabot's regional headquarters in Shanghai.