R&D magazine has partnered with the Industrial Research Institute to publish their view of the R&D funding and spending in 2016. It is forecast that R&D for advanced materials and chemicals industry will increase by about 2.1% to $44.4 billion worldwide, and by 2.6% to $12.0 billion for materials developed in the U.S. MSE Supplies has compiled the relevant information in this blog post.
Asian economies continue to grow faster than other parts of the world, and their investments in R&D are often at rates several times that of American and European countries. As a result, combined Asian R&D investments are growing at a faster rate than elsewhere and their global R&D shares continue to increase at almost 1% per year, while American and European R&D shares decrease, even though they also continue to increase their absolute R&D investments, just not at as fast a rate as they do in Asia.
Where has the federal government been spending research money over the years? The following chart shows that biomedical research and engineering remain as the top two disciplines of investment, with physical sciences and environmental sciences being the No. 3 and 4.
R&D for Advanced Materials and Chemicals includes research dedicated to developing basic chemicals, catalysts, polymers, metals, ceramics and nanomaterials. This can include research on materials sold in bulk, or in samples sold for hundreds of dollars per gram. Development of specialized versions of these materials is essential to the development of new products including paints, polymers, foods, adhesives, energy and metals.
We forecast that R&D for this industry will increase by about 2.1% to $44.4 billion worldwide, and by 2.6% to $12.0 billion for materials developed in the U.S. The U.S. has a strong leadership role in the development of these materials technologies. Compared to other materials’ developers in Germany, Japan and China, U.S. materials developers are ranked higher by factors ranging from 2.4 to 7.3, better than the other countries.
R&D leaders in this area are dominated by 3M ($1.1 billion in annual R&D), Dow Chemical ($1.3 billion in annual R&D), BASF ($2.2 billion) and DuPont ($2.1 billion). The U.S. companies have an R&D/ sales ratio in the 2.5% to 6.0% ranges. Sumitomo Chemical has a ratio of 7.0%, and Bayer AG has a 7.75% ratio. Nanotechnology continues to be the hot material in this industry, with strong R&D funding from a large number federal agencies as noted in the chart below.
While R&D funding has dropped a bit for nanotechnology research from $1.7 billion in 2010 to the current $1.5 billion, there continues to be strong bipartisan support in Congress and the Administration for research across 15 federal agencies.
The payback for this research is fast, and the results are seen in areas like new composites for aerospace applications, faster and safer chemical reactions (with new catalysts) in various production processes and more durable coatings and finishes for automotive applications.
Of course, the large technical and monetary advantages offered by the use of nanomaterials means many other countries will make use of them and dedicate R&D resources to them for creating new and innovative applications. Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science, for example, promotes nanotechnology-based research in photonics and quantum dots. South Korea’s Advanced Nano Products Ltd. manufactures and supplies chemically processed nanocrystalline materials and their chemical precursors for coating and powder processing applications.