Home Manufacturing & Industry Global paint manufacturer opens groundbreaking R&D innovation campus

Global paint manufacturer opens groundbreaking R&D innovation campus

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(L to R): R&D Section Manager, Andy Clark with Councillor Jill Green, Mayor of Gateshead, David Williams, R&D Director of Marine and Protective Coatings and Engineering Manager, Gary Arkley at the launch of AkzoNobel Felling’s new R&D innovation campus.

Set to become a global nerve centre for the creation of innovative coatings, a trailblazing new lab complex has opened at AkzoNobel Felling.

Capable of testing the properties of new products in conditions that mimic the world’s most extreme environments, the £10.8 million campus is set to put the North East at the centre of innovation for the world’s coatings industry.

Officially opened by Councillor Jill Green, Mayor of Gateshead, the state-of-the-art facility will become home to some of the coatings industry’s foremost scientists and technical experts as the company continues to focus on the delivery of cutting-edge products and innovations for the marine and oil and gas industries.

“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,” says Jean-Michel Gauthier, managing director of the company’s Marine and Protective Coatings business.

“The new laboratories will enable our technical experts to partner more closely with our customers and deliver innovative products 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.

“We’re beyond excited about the potential of the new Felling campus and the possibilities it could open up,” adds Roger Jakeman, AkzoNobel’s technical director.

“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 campus brings the total investment in the Felling site since 2011 to over £27 million. This is in addition to the £100 million investment the company made in its nearby manufacturing unit in Ashington in 2017.

The International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, says: “Driving investment into all parts of the UK is one of my international economic department’s most important tasks and 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.”

AkzoNobel employs 3,000 scientists in 70 laboratories around the world and recently launched its Paint the Future startup challenge.