BASF has established the research initiative “Network for Advanced Materials Open Research” (NAO) together with seven leading universities and research institutes in China, Japan and South Korea. The scientists aim to cooperate in developing new materials for a wide range of applications. The initial focus is on products for the automotive, construction, detergent and cleaners industries as well as the water and wind energy industries. “The initiative is a further important step in BASF’s strategy to expand global research activities,” said Dr. Christian Fischer, President Advanced Materials and Systems Research. BASF plans to conduct 50% of its research activities by 2020 outside of Europe – one quarter in Asia Pacific. BASF has also launched similar initiatives around the world, the “Joint Research Network on Advanced Materials and Systems” (JONAS) in Europe, as well as the "North America Center for Research on Advanced Materials" (NORA).
The Beijing University of Chemical Technology, the Beijing Institute of Technology, the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Fudan University, Hanyang University, Kyoto University and Tsinghua University are participating in the initiative. The researchers are being supported and advised by a scientific committee comprising six independent professors and scientists from BASF. “Open research activities like NAO contribute to BASF’s regional ‘grow smartly’ strategy to develop innovations in Asia Pacific together with and for our customers in Asia and the world. Simultaneously, this demonstrates the attractiveness of BASF for young researchers in the region,” said Dr. Karl-Rudolf Kurtz, Senior Vice President, BASF Research Representative Asia Pacific.
The academic partners are not only contributing their scientific expertise in material sciences, modeling and synthesis methods, but are also introducing ideas for interesting research approaches. Besides their well-founded scientific knowledge, the BASF researchers also possess the necessary experience in translating the research findings into technically feasible solutions and identifying which material properties are required for different industries and applications.
The cooperation has a long-term focus, with ideas and projects developed and established jointly by the partners. “The initiative is based on a spirit of trusting cooperation, as well as openness and the willingness to think and move in new directions,” explained BASF researcher Dr. Sébastien Garnier, located in Shanghai, who heads the NAO research network. “With such diverse teams, each partner benefits from the knowledge of the other experts.”
Initial research projects have already been launched across the region and others are in preparation. One example at Hanyang University in South Korea is the development of a modelling tool to predict the aging properties of composite systems used in the wind industry. A project currently in progress at Fudan University in Shanghai is the development of novel coating systems based on hybrid materials. Professor Limin Wu, Dean of the Institute of Material Sciences of Fudan University, said: “The cooperation with BASF in the network is enabling the researchers of my working group to familiarize themselves with the scientific background of specific applications. At the same time, they are gaining access to the most cutting edge technologies. This type of research is generating powerful dynamics and great interest among my colleagues and students.”