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.  


Our Visionary Enterprises team looks at the longer term, typically 10+ years, and seeks to identify the challenges where a materials solution could have a significant positive impact. We identify and understand emerging topics and address these through our wide ranging scientific expertise and advanced materials expertise.

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Our Platform Innovation team works on projects that involve unique high value materials, with the potential to become platform technologies. These projects may be a response to specific client demand, may be our own creative approach to wider issues or may come from the Visionary Enterprises team. A main element of our work is to explore and validate the market need for our ideas.

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Our Technology Development team uses project management techniques to advance the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of a development towards commercialisation. We work with partners, end users and our parent company Sumitomo Chemical to refine applications and to use our wide gamut of technology expertise.

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Visionary Enterprises Activities

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 Visionary Enterprises team focuses on global needs over a 10+ year timeframe with the aim of identifying societal needs that require materials breakthroughs.

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:

  • Living longer independently
  • Squeezed cities
  • Water scarcity
  • Impact of digital transformation

Platform Innovation Activities

The role of the Platform Innovation team is to identify and validate new projects involving unique high value materials that enable new applications and fulfil unmet needs.

The technologies we explore have the potential to become platforms rather than standalone solutions. We use a combination of input from potential end users/customers and ideation sessions, informed by global trends aligned with Sumitomo’s sustainability mission. Ideas resulting from ideation must pass feasibility and proof of concept phases before passing through the pipeline to enter the Development stage.

Ideas currently under evaluation involve:

  • Electrolytic ammonia synthesis
  • Optical data storage
  • High thermal conductivity materials
  • Machine learning
  • Modulators for optical interconnects to replace LiNbO3
  • Wave guide materials

Technology Development Activities

The Technology Development team at CDT advances projects beyond initial feasibility studies, managing them via a Stage Gate process and using Technology Readiness Level state to monitor progress.

We collaborate with other companies, universities and research institutions to close the gaps identified between initial feasibility studies and a commercially viable product. Typically this involves working with partners and/or potential end customers with the following aims and deliverables:

  • 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.


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.