This will become the Centre of Excellence and Competences in flat glass for AGC, the world's leading glassmaker.
To meet this new ambition the new centre will be staffed by 250 researchers and technicians as of the end of 2012. As well as being larger it will feature the most advanced equipment and facilities available, enabling researchers to continue their ground-breaking research in innovative products and processes. The site has the further advantage of being close to the group's plants where innovations can be put into industrial production and scaled up, as well as being located within a technology park served by an efficient transport network (motorways and the airport).
"Backed by a budget that has tripled over the past three years, our commitment to innovation has led to real advances in glass, as confirmed by numerous awards (2), most recently the Best Innovator Award Belgium 2009 (3)" declared Jean-François Heris, President and CEO of AGC Glass Europe. "AGC therefore fully deserves this new research environment, which will multiply its efforts towards radical innovation, thanks to its links with neighbouring industries, laboratories and universities, making it a pole of attraction for international researchers. The scope of our research can only widen as a result."
The investment of around 30 million euros is supported by subsidies of 8.4 million euros from the Walloon Region. The start of the project was marked by a press conference attended by ministers Jean-Marc Nollet and Jean-Claude Marcourt (respectively for R&D/sustainable development and the economy/new technology).
(1) The present R&D Centre is located at Jumet (Charleroi) and employs some 200 people.
(2) Batimat d’Or for its AntiBacterial glass and Gold Medal Design Trophy for its electroluminescent glass Glassiled at Batimat 2007 (Paris); Belgian Environment Prize for its mirror without copper, lead or formaldehyde in 2007; Technological Innovation Prize 2009 in Wallonia for its extra-clear glass for solar applications.
(3) Presented in November 2009 by the international strategy consultants A.T. Kearney.