DuPont invests more than $2 billion into research and development (R&D). Dow Chemical invests about $1.7 billion a year in research across all its industry segments. Last year, BASF increased its R&D budget to $2.3 billion.
R&D is clearly a value to companies. However, about 56% of companies classify their efforts to turn R&D ideas into projects as only marginally effective, according to a whitepaper from IDC Manufacturing. Only 25% of R&D projects result in a product that reaches the market.
"The laboratory environment that exists today, without exception, is very fragmented," Accelrys Senior Director Ted Pawela told PlasticsToday. "Customers can have anywhere from 5 to 15 databases of scientific data, but not one system is allowing them to look at the information at one time, which means no single scientist knows all the systems of body of corporate knowledge. What ends up happening, is that they repeat experiments that they have ran before."
Pawela said that there are three types of experimentation: blue sky, which is "trying out crazy ideas in the lab"; optimization, which means small, incremental changes progressing toward a better product (this consists of 99% of product development); and confirmative, which "make sure we are making the same stuff."