DuPont R&D Chief Details Research Role | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: January 4, 2016

DuPont R&D Chief Details Research Role

Restructuring: Redesign is about efficiency, he says, not eliminating science
Department: Business
Keywords: DuPont, central R&D, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions
Science Center
DuPont’s Experimental Station in Wilmington, Del.
Credit: DuPont
An aerial view of DuPont’s experimental station.
Science Center
DuPont’s Experimental Station in Wilmington, Del.
Credit: DuPont

Doug Muzyka, DuPont’s chief science & technology officer, says the company’s reorganization of R&D in advance of its merger with Dow Chemical does not mean an end to corporate research at DuPont.

C&EN recently reported that DuPont will replace Central Research & Development with a new organization dubbed Science & Innovation. Concurrently, DuPont will eliminate 1,700 positions in its home state of Delaware, including researchers, as part of a $700 million cost reduction program.

Muzyka claims recent media reports have “mischaracterized” the changes at DuPont by maintaining that “corporately funded R&D is being completely eliminated, or that the cost reduction effort at DuPont is targeting R&D.”

As part of the R&D restructuring, he says, “we are redesigning the existing Central Research & Development operating model to assess and seed new, transformational science-based ventures as the next step in the evolution of corporately funded R&D for DuPont.” He adds that some staff from Central R&D and engineering will transfer to DuPont’s business units.

Muzyka also says the R&D budget impact associated with the cost reduction program is in line with the overall program, which aims to cut the firm’s global workforce by 10%. “DuPont will continue to be a leading investor in industrial research and development,” he says.

The changes, Muzyka adds, will position the company for its merger with Dow and the subsequent breakup of the new DowDuPont into three separate companies.

“DuPont remains fundamentally, deeply committed to scientific innovation,” Muzyka says. The cuts are the result of “careful analysis of how we can improve the overall productivity of our R&D functional company-wide.”

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Valy8851 (January 5, 2016 8:04 AM)
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor of business at Yale University, called the decision to slash research, "demoralizing."

"It is devastating to the state of DuPont, devastating to the frontier of knowledge that DuPont's brand and history represents and devastating to the integrity of DuPont's current leadership," he said.
Dr. Hamdy Khalil (January 6, 2016 2:50 PM)
I agree 100% with Professor Sonnenfeld. Short termism kills innovation.
beakers1 (January 6, 2016 3:34 PM)
Whenever a company starts to rebrand "research" with "innovation" it is a sign of despair. Innovation is the result of good science, successful reserch and capable managers. Looking for innovation for the sake of it has rarely produced something truely useful and is a receipe for making everyone unhappy. good luck DuPont
Anonymous (January 6, 2016 4:37 PM)
"we are redesigning the existing Central Research & Development operating model to assess and seed new, transformational science-based ventures as the next step in the evolution of corporately funded R&D for DuPont."

It is a sign of cultural problems that someone in his position can make a statement with words like this and pretend that he is actually saying something meaningful. A statement like "we are reorganizing central research in preparation for the merger and this includes lay-offs" would have been much more clear and honest.
TomS (January 6, 2016 6:28 PM)
DuPont's Experimental Station was a "landlord-tenant" site in which the Central R&D Department was landlord and the various other departments had research operations. Although CRD was corporately funded, most of the other work was supported by the respective business units. The facility itself is a national treasure and I would be surprised if it didn't continue as a place where perhaps all of the eventual companies would conduct research. It's hard to tell from what has been said so far how significant the effect of reorganization will be.
Dr. Robert R. Matheson, Jr. (January 6, 2016 7:02 PM)
Dear Mr. Muzyka:
Well you ought to be ashamed. I speak English well and recognize that every sentence attributed to you in this report is factually accurate and certainly no more tangential a response than the corporate line you are honor and loyalty bound to support. But "no comment" or "still under review" would have served you better. Here's the question: what R&D expenditure as a percentage of sales will be targeted in the combined Dow-DuPont this year, and (if you can predict) what will it be for the three portions moving forward? Give us a number and I think everyone interested will be able to judge for themselves how committed to research the future entities will be. My prediction is something like 3% or less which is about where the coal industry in the US is today and you can expect the same future. You may think that time commitment is appropriate for the materials world of the 21st century, but if so then be bold enough to articulate that vision. As I said "no comment" would be honorable in contrast to "...fundamentally, deeply committed . . .".
Thomas Duncan Nichols PhD,MD (January 6, 2016 7:34 PM)
Where is Crawford Greenwalt, and Plunket when the world needs them? Not at DuPont. They have been sold out to those seeking short term financial. That means the eventual death of DuPont and the US. Want to do research today? Move to China.
Kim L Johnson (January 6, 2016 8:42 PM)
Dear Dr Nichols,
If you've got a Linked-in or G+ Profile, I would like to connect with you.

There are Several pathways for enabling us "US'rs" to Do MUCH more R&D, and I'm about to embark on undoubted the Most Promising of Such paths !
--Kim L. Johnson /Process R&D ChemE
Rob Burford (January 7, 2016 12:24 AM)
This development fully aligns with George Whitesides's superb paper in Angew Chem Int Ed 54, 3196
Dr. Jeffrey Hylden (January 7, 2016 12:53 AM)
I agree with the previous comments that Mr.Muzyka uses meaningless jargon to cover the demise of R&D. But we need to recognize that the days of corporate research laboratories are over. When I was in graduate school, most large corporations had substantial R&D labs that did high quality science but shuttering Dupont Central R&D puts one more nail in the coffin of corporate R&D. Now even the DOE national laboratories merely have the patina of science rather than real in-depth science. What good is STEM education if there are no decent jobs at the end?
James A. Forstner (January 7, 2016 3:20 PM)
There kid no understanding by current DUPONT management of the nature of research or its value to the company or the country. Sad sad day.
Tim Nolen (January 7, 2016 9:00 PM)
Most commenters are correct. Fuzzy language does not answer the questions. Goals for cost reduction are very clear in reducing support for R&D in favor of a quest for fast profits by specific individuals at the expense of a reasonable long-term investment in our good society.
Jim Zeigler (January 8, 2016 11:29 AM)
Most of the corporate R&D within DuPont was done in the business units. CR&D was engaged in longer term, speculative R&D in technologies that DuPont did not have operating expertise. Starting back with Heckert, DuPont made a deliberate long-term shift towards bio-based science (pharma, ag, bio-based chemistry). That was a gamble, and the corporation lost. Unfortunately a number of good folks also lost their careers.
anonymous (January 9, 2016 9:15 AM)
From the last half of 2014 to the proxy vote in Spring 2015 Doug Muzyka was the face of Dupont research and development to Nelson Peltz and Trian. Maybe all that has come to pass would have happened anyway, but relying on Muzyka to articulate a clear, understandable, and positive message to anyone only made this outcome a slam dunk. Besides his inability to speak in anything but bullsh*t bingo Muzyka had no prior professional experience conducting or managing R&D until he got his present position. How he got the job as CSTO is beyond me, but typical of Dupont management cronyism.
John V. Fletcher, PhD (January 9, 2016 6:37 PM)
When Dupont spun off Chemours it reminded me of Monsanto and Solutia. Adding Dow to the mix and then cutting up the new mix takes the Solutia debacle to a new high. I never liked Dow and have none of its stock. Dupont stock is in the cue to go soon.
Dr. Jay Agarwal (January 10, 2016 1:58 PM)
By destroying the corporate R&D function, The management is destroying the potential for any future growth. Bravo for the corporate raiders.

Dr. Jay C. Agarwal
Robert Buntrock (January 16, 2016 2:34 PM)
More regress in the name of turgid management-speak, short-term buck grubbing at the expense of R&D and researchers. At another company I went through 4 "reengineerings" plus one more limited management blunder, survived two of them but lost 3 jobs. I've done quite nicely in semiretirement but I've seen too many of these snafus before and after and my heartfelt sympathies to those affected and research in general.

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