Our Role

We collaborate with our partners to explore, develop and deliver solutions to problems, and to seize on new ideas, taking them from genesis to commercialisation

Flexible collaboration

We are highly flexible in our approach and work with partners across the spectrum, from academia to manufacturers, in advancing the state of readiness of projects.

We use a robust Stage Gate process to progress ideas from conception through to commercialisation.  

Explore

Our team looks for global materials-related challenges and technologies where Sumitomo Chemical could make a significant impact. We do this by harnessing the wide-ranging experience of our in-house technologists in conjunction with our Corporate Venture and Innovation team, who continually scan the world for appropriate technologies.

Evaluate

We conduct rapid Proof of Concept experiments to determine the likely technical and commercial feasibility for candidate concepts. These projects may be a response to specific client or Sumitomo Chemical demands, or a result of own exploration. Some evaluations can most effectively be carried out by our internal technology team, but we also make extensive use of open innovation where appropriate to achieve the most efficient results.

Research and Adopt

For concepts that show potential, we act as the interface to Sumitomo Chemical business units. This may include refinement of the technical or commercial case and developing support for an effective commercial plan. This development might require addition internal technical experimentation or activities in partnership with external organisations.

Corporate Venturing and Innovation

Many organisations struggle to find time to look for truly long term, visionary opportunities. CDT’s role as an innovation engine of Sumitomo Chemical means doing just that.

Our CVI team scans externally for technologies in academia or early stage organisations where Sumitomo Chemical could provide a strategic partnership role to maximise chance of success and future value.

In addition, the team conducts foresighting activities to identify global challenges and needs over a mid and long (10+ year) timeframe with the aim of identifying societal needs that require materials breakthroughs that align with Sumitomo Chemical’s strengths.

We use scenario planning, novel ideation techniques and an ever widening external network to translate global drivers into actionable technology projects.

Current areas of interest include:

  • Healthcare
  • Reducing Environmental Impact
  • Food
  • Materials for ICT

Click here for further information on CDT’s Corporate Venturing and Innovation activities.

Proof of Concept Studies

CDT has a 40+ multidisciplinary technical team with a broad range of experience and well-equipped labs which enables us to provide a fast evaluation of the key technical feasibility of many projects internally. Speed and efficiency are key at this stage and so when we don’t immediately have the internal resources to conduct studies in-house, we access to an extensive range of external facilities and expertise via our open innovation network.

Sometimes we recognise the key feasibility issue is further market understanding and validation. CDT’s Business Proof of Concept team can bring its experience across a wide range of industrial domains and access to proprietary information sources to provide the intelligence required.

Ideas currently under evaluation involve:

  • Antiviral Materials
  • Optical data storage
  • High thermal conductivity materials
  • Carbon Capture
  • Modulators for optical interconnects to replace LiNbO3
  • Wave guide materials

Project Teams

Sometimes a Proof of Concept study will flag up issues that require more detailed evaluation before a project is suitable for integration with a Sumitomo Chemical business unit. Typically we will have a number of longer term project teams within our in-house technologist community that further develop the technology or market concept over a 12-24 month period before it is ready for the next steps within Sumitomo. Often these teams will be in active collaboration with external organisations or potential lead customers.

  • Drafting specifications for minimum viable product (MVP)
  • Sampling of materials/devices with partners or potential end customers
  • Building a prototype with demonstrated performance aligned with MVP specifications
  • Performing field trials in a relevant environment, e.g. crop stores
  • Establishing technology roadmap
  • Strategic filing of key patents to strengthen our intellectual property position
  • Identifying key competitors and benchmarking to demonstrate value of the technology being developed.

Commercialise

CDT is a key part of the innovation funnel for Sumitomo Chemical. We provide the early stage technical and commercial analysis while product commercialisation is carried out via our parent company’s business and corporate units.

 

Project example

OLED technology developed at CDT was made available to Sumitomo Chemical which, in 2018, acquired a share of JOLED Inc., a Japan-based company engaged in the development, manufacture and sale of OLED displays.

JOLED is establishing production capabilities for the mass fabrication of medium-size printed OLED displays, using materials provided by Sumitomo Chemical.

The plant is scheduled to start commercial operation in 2020.

IP activity

Creating new technology ideas is crucial, but these need to be captured and protected in order to generate value from them.

To this end, building a strong and valuable IP portfolio is key. Here at CDT we look for innovative and strategic ways to create a robust IP portfolio that supports Sumitomo Chemical’s commercial activities.