(EnergyAsia, January 31 2013, Thursday) — Saudi Basic Industries Corporation has announced the opening of four new state-of-the-art technology and innovation facilities in 2013, two in Saudi Arabia and one each in India and China, bringing the total number of its research facilities around the world to 18.

The new centres represent a strategic investment of around US$500 million to improve technology, applications and solutions and meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated marketplace, as well as address a wide variety of sustainability issues.

Mohamed Al-Mady, SABIC vice chairman and CEO, said continuous investment in technology and innovation will enable the company to meet specific needs of customers as well as society.

“These four new facilities will further empower our global technology and innovation centers to build on their innovative systems to develop new technologies, improve manufacturing processes, and contribute to a sustainable environment for our communities.”

The two centres in Saudi Arabia are the Corporate Research & Innovation Center (CRI) at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, near Jeddah, and the other, the SABIC Plastic Applications Development Center (SPADC) in Riyadh Techno Valley at King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh.

Ernesto Occhiello, SABIC’s executive vice president for technology and innovation, said the CRI, scheduled for an April opening, “will seek to exchange experience and knowledge between the researchers at SABIC and KAUST, opening access to new technical competencies, blending academia with industry, tapping into new inventions made by academia, sourcing top talent and fresh ideas, and developing a community of excellence in upstream research.”

The SPADC, which is due to open in the second quarter, aims to develop new applications and products that support SABIC’s business growth. Located adjacent to the Saudi Arabia’s largest university, King Saud University, it will enable SABIC to build closer links between academia and the industrial research community.

The SPADC aims to be the centre of excellence for automotive, packaging, consumer, construction, signage, and compounding. It will work closely with SABIC’s other technology and innovation centres to achieve set targets, including training customers and employees.

The centre will enable Saudi Arabia to enter advanced industrial fields, and support the National Industrial Clusters Development Program to develop industries such as packaging, automotive and machinery. It will help develop new plastics applications and extend technical support to local and international customers in various fields, including polymers, elastomers and specialty products.

“These new centres are already creating around 150 professional jobs, and are a part of our plans to significantly boost research and technology in Saudi Arabia,” Mr Occhiello said.

The Bangalore research centre is due to open in the second quarter. It will deal with application development, strategic business research and corporate research and will focus primarily on diverse areas of research in chemistry, material science, process engineering, analytical and application technology. Its aim is to support business as a strategic center of excellence to cater to global and regional needs.

The Shanghai centre will open in the third quarter of 2013. It will deal with application development, strategic business research and corporate research. It will focus on fundamental and applied research in support of SABIC’s Strategic Business Units as well as the company’s Technology and Innovation unit’s corporate projects.

“Bangalore and Shanghai centers, which will host around 500 professionals, are an indication of SABIC’s commitment to be the technology partner of choice for Asian partners as well as the employer of choice for the best talent from the region,” Mr Occhiello said.