Aditya Birla Group challenges creativity to the fore

To foster a culture of creativity and innovation, the Aditya Birla Group opened its state-of-the-art research centre inviting talents from India and abroad to be a part of this creative hub
On 3rd March, The Aditya Birla Group launched its Research & Development Centre at Taloja in Navi Mumbai. Developed at a cost of Rs. 250 crore, this centre will handle research and development activities for the group companies in an integrated manner.  
Spread over 20 acres at the Taloja industrial estate, the facility will focus on manufacturing and retail verticals. At the formal opening of the centre, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group said, “This launch represents a  significant milestone for the Aditya Birla Group. It places us among the very select group of Indian corporations to have its own full-fledged R&D Centre. It will be the hub of our global R&D network, supplementing the R&D footprint that already exists within our businesses”.
ABSTC will be the hub of the global Group R&D network that includes Novelis and Colombian Tech centres in North America, the Thai Chemical Epoxy R&D Centre  at Raygong in Thailand, the pulp Laboratories of Domsjo in Sweden, and several others. “Some of the companies in the Aditya Birla group, especially those acquired recently like Novelis have R&D divisions, but this centre will be the global hub of all its R&D activities”, Mr. Birla informed. This facility will help group companies reduce dependence on licensed technologies developed overseas. Further it will position the group in a select category of domestic conglomerates having R & D verticals.
The unique, futuristic, architectural design is a standout feature of this research centre. Displaying future in all its elements the architect created a work environment that had the ability to draw the best of international talent to the otherwise sleepy industrial suburb of Mumbai. 
According to Luca Fontana, Chief Executive Officer, ABSTC, “The R&D centre has been set-up in an aim to be a catalyst in promoting engineering. This centre will concentrate on future technologies while the R&D divisions of individual companies will focus on short and medium – term needs”.
At present the centre employs 100 people out of which 50 possess PhDs. Its group companies like Hindalco, Birla Carbon, Ultratech, Grasim, Novelis and Aditya Birla Retail have benefited immensely from this facility. “The group is also open to carrying out contractual research for non-competing entities”, added Mr. Fontana.  
Emphasising on the advantages of this centre, Mr. Birla said, “The present model is more of a cost model wherein the ABSTC carries out research for group companies, which pay for the services individually”, while Mr. Fontana added, “The advantage of such a centre for group companies is that they do not have to pay royalties”.
With this centre, the group’s aim to take itself a step further has come true. Focusing basically on research, innovation is the key to achieving the group’s ambitious targets. Explaining further Mr. Birla said, “We cannot depend only on sourcing technology and know-how through collaborations or licensing agreements for three important reasons. First, licensing technology is expensive; second, licensees can’t always get the best available technology; and third, and most important, only by actively developing our own technology will we create the institutional knowledge that sets us apart from the rest”.
At the centre, scientists and engineers are encouraged to initiate research projects internally and collaborate with external institutions to bring in breakthrough applications, products and processes. The centre also hopes to partner with technology start ups in developing and commercialising new technologies.
The company is also open to tie-ups with institutions like IITs and BITS, and joining forces with technology start-ups to incubate relevant technologies. However the group is not looking at a venture capital business.
With a vision to be a world class R&D organisation, the centre is focused on enabling the Aditya Birla Group to achieve technological excellence in its businesses. It will do so by creating a multi-disciplinary technology platform for delivering competitive edge to its businesses through market insight driven application of advances in science and technology, innovation, internal and external collaboration.
“We hope over time, that the Aditya Birla Group would add to the technology sheen of India in the manufacturing field as much as Information technology has done today in the services area”, said Rajiv Dube, Director, Corporate R&D Centre, ABSTC.

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