Kuraray’s basic R&D policy and core research areas
Message from Management
Kuraray’s research and development began with the development of chemical products that could replace natural materials. The company started out by producing rayon filament, a silk substitute. Following the Second World War, it commercialized polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) ﬁber (under the name KURALON™), a synthetic fiber replacement for cotton and wool that was made from carbide, a resource available domestically. The company then applied the technology for vinyl acetate, which is derived in the production of KURALON™, to create PVA film, EVAL™ and other products, which evolved into the lineup of vinyl acetate products that make up the company’s core business today.
Now, 90 years after the company’s establishment, Kuraray’s research and development is at a major turning point. Kuraray has a unique corporate culture that is reflected in its mission, “For people and the planet—to achieve what no one else can.” In research and development, our job is to develop and commercialize materials the world needs in fields that only Kuraray can take on. To return to those basics, we are working to boost the success rate of research projects that reach commercialization by narrowing our research focus to areas where our strengths can be applied most effectively.
Under this policy, we have set targets for new businesses in peripheral sectors that are “within walking distance” from existing businesses. In sectors that are a half step or one step beyond our existing businesses, there are many themes with hidden potential. From there, we will steadily walk three or four steps ahead to expand our horizons into completely new realms.
At the same time, to improve the commercialization success rate, we have established a system that enables researchers to confer with sales staff and senior management to enable them to thoroughly discuss the selection and feasibility of research themes, and their business potential when they come to fruition. By doing this, we are aiming to boost the success rate, which is typically 3 in 1,000, to 8 in 10.
Since 2016, at the initiative of the Research and Development Division, we have taken steps to promote close communication with business divisions and overseas bases. In doing so, we have clarified the roles of each division and base, and identified new research themes. For the nearly 100 development themes that have resulted from that process, we are continuing work to examine the commercialization potential of each one.
By carrying out these activities faithfully and steadily, we will continue striving to benefit society through the unique Kuraray products we provide.
Officer, Innovation Networking Center;
Officer, Research and Development Division;
Officer, IP Management Center
Competition is increasing in the chemicals industry due to the entry of companies from emerging countries,
and the commoditization of specialty chemicals is also underway.
Technological development capabilities to create valueadded products are increasing in importance as an essential management resource for maintaining and strengthening global competitiveness.
Strengthen and expand existing businesses
Every one of our business divisions and Group companies collaborate to quickly resolve problems at production and development bases in each business to fortify Kuraray’s core business.
Establish and deepen core technologies
We will establish and deepen necessary core technologies through the missions to “Create new business” and “Strengthen and expand existing business."
Promote new businesses
We will promote new businesses through the following product development projects.
- VECSTAR™ (liquid crystal polymer film)
- VECSTAR™ is a liquid crystal polymer (LCP) film we developed using our film forming technology. We are developing it for a wide range of applications where growth in demand is expected, including automobiles (in-vehicle electronics), 5G mobile devices and high-resolution cameras.
- CMP pads for semiconductors
- Made with our original thermoplastic polyurethane, this is a chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) pad used in planarization in the semiconductor manufacturing process. It is now being evaluated by customers in the medical device and automotive industries, which will be its main applications.
- Bio Hard Carbon
- This is a new plant-based hard carbon that exhibits superior durability and charge-discharge properties. We are expanding production facilities to meet expected rapid growth in demand in the automotive market, particularly for use in hybrid and electric vehicles.