Research and Development

As a materials technology company, the future success and sustainability of our business depend on our ability to develop and market innovative products and services. We strive to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world and continuously search for new solutions for our customers.

Technology is at the core of our success. From production and process technology, to deep knowledge of metallurgy and materials science, we develop a significant part of our technology using Umicore research and development findings. Umicore also develops technology in collaboration with industrial or academic partners and, where appropriate, we protect our intellectual property with patents.

We are committed to innovation to maintain our competitive lead and Research & Development is a key component of innovation-led growth. Every year, we invest from 5% to 7% of revenues in R&D efforts carried out in 14 research and technical centres worldwide. The main focus is on developing technologies that address key global challenges such as clean mobility and resource scarcity.

We have prioritised our R&D programmes to support our Horizon 2020 ambitions with a focus on the development of innovative materials and processes.

We are working to meet the growing demand for clean mobility and striving to secure future success and sustainability by consistently investing in research for clean mobility innovations. Our catalysts help reduce air pollution, while our rechargeable battery materials help make electrified transportation a reality. In 2017, over 85% of Umicore’s R&D investments were in clean mobility research.

Every year, the Executive Committee identifies innovation projects (“Top 10”) which are key to achieving Horizon 2020 (and beyond) growth ambitions and cover product and process developments. A selection of these projects is reviewed during the year either through dedicated technology reviews or as part of strategic business reviews. Previous years’ R&D investments have brought great success and created a space to shift R&D positioning. In 2017, Umicore invested over €175 million in these initiatives.

Venture Capital

We support open innovation and the creation of materials technologies by making selective direct investments in start-up companies with which we have joint development programs focusing on rechargeable batteries, catalysis or digital connectivity.

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Umicore Materials Technology Award

Every year, we grant a Umicore Materials Technology PhD Award. This €10 000 award is granted to a PhD graduate who, through his or her research, contributes to science in fields that are crucial both to the growth of Umicore’s business and the development of a sustainable society. The topics for this year’s application are:

  • Materials for Emission Catalysis
  • Battery Materials

We seek to highlight the crucial role played by academic research in industry and society as a whole: leading the transformation to a sustainable society via  the scientific quest for intelligent cleantech solutions.

We place great importance in the high scientific standards of the award. We secure award excellence and select the laureates in partnership with the Fund for Scientific Research-FNRS (F.R.S.-FNRS) and the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO). Regulations and application forms can be found on the websites of FWO and FNRS