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AkzoNobel opens £10.8m R&D innovation campus
A trailblazing lab complex which can test new products in conditions that mimic the world’s most extreme environments has been officially opened by AkzoNobel.
Located in Felling near Gateshead, the £10.8m (€12.6m) R&D innovation campus fuses the site’s 115-year history of product development with state-of-the-art facilities designed to keep AkzoNobel at the forefront of the coatings industry.
The company said, as the ‘creative nerve centre’ for scientists and technical experts in the world of coatings, its focus will be on continuing to deliver cutting-edge innovations and products for the marine and oil and gas industries. It brings the total investment in the Felling site since 2011 to over £27m (€31m).
Jean-Michel Gauthier, Managing Director of the company’s Marine and Protective Coatings business said: “As the birthplace of the International brand, we’re immensely proud of our Felling site, which has supplied products for some of the world’s most iconic buildings and structures. The new laboratories will enable our technical experts to partner more closely with our customers and deliver innovative products and solutions that meet the most demanding specifications in our industry.”
One of the key features of the campus is a new application and testing laboratory. It will be used to test new products in extreme conditions such as temperature resistance, fire and high pressure. The facilities will also enable scientists to expose products to chemicals and corrosion.
Roger Jakeman, AkzoNobel’s Technical Director added: “We’re beyond excited about the potential of the new Felling campus and the possibilities it could open up. We already deliver products and services that have exceeded customer expectations, now we’re looking to go one step further and develop innovations that go beyond their imaginations.”
A comprehensive sustainability plan was at the heart of the design and development of the new complex. Features include solar wall cladding, a sustainable urban drainage system, grey water recycling, photovoltaic panels, air compressor heat recovery, and a sedum “green roof”.
The new facility in Felling is located around 25 miles away from AkzoNobel’s €100 million paint manufacturing plant in Ashington, which opened in 2017.
International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP said: “Driving investment into all parts of the UK is one of my international economic department’s most important tasks. In recent weeks, we have seen the UK’s top international investors reaffirm their commitment to our economy. We have bucked the global trend with foreign direct investment into the UK growing by 20%, while declining by 40% in developed economies as a whole.
“AkzoNobel’s investment in its Felling site is yet another vote of confidence in the fundamentals of our economy, which will create high skilled jobs for local people.”