Technology & substitution

Strategic focus area

Economic performance Value chain & society Eco efficiency

Change in risk profile

No change

Change in opportunity profile

Increase

Potential impact

Umicore is a materials technology group with a strong focus on the development of innovative materials and processes. The choice and development of these technologies represents the single biggest opportunity and risk for Umicore.

Achieving the best cost-performance balance for materials is a priority for Umicore and its customers. There is always a risk that customers will seek alternative materials for their products should those of Umicore not provide this optimum balance. The risk is especially present in businesses producing materials containing expensive metals (especially those with historically volatile pricing characteristics).

Change in context

Trends in rechargeable battery materials for automotive applications have underscored that NMC materials with increasing nickel content are the technology of choice for customers in current and upcoming electrified vehicle platforms. Besides the focus on high performing battery materials, novel processes are being developed to decrease cost and environmental impact across the entire battery value chain.

In vehicle emission control, regulatory debates have reinforced the need to have a broad spectrum of technologies available for both gasoline and diesel applications.

Measures taken by umicore

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. Umicore invested selectively in new fields relevant to core activities in 2018. Overall spend was equivalent to 6.1% of revenues.

Umicore patents disruptive technologies. In 2018, Umicore registered 75 new patent families.

For more information on Umicore’s approach to managing its innovation and technology portfolio see Statements, page 73.

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