In advance of its merger with Dow Chemical, DuPont says it plans to spend $200 million over the next several years on renovations and upgrades to its Experimental Station in Wilmington, Del.
DuPont CEO Ed Breen made the announcement at a speech before the Delaware Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 9.
“We’re going to optimize many of our labs,” he said. The company will also upgrade offices and create space for what it called “networked collaboration and innovation.” It plans to reconfigure the 150-acre campus to bring R&D efforts from similar businesses closer together.
A year ago, DuPont recast its storied Central R&D unit into an operation called Science & Innovation as part of a company-wide effort to eliminate $700 million in annual costs. The company cut about 200 research positions, according to figures C&EN obtained at the time.
Company officials said the changes were part of a move toward a more collaborative research model. The new Experimental Station investment appears to be a bet on that model. “We’re going to put space aside and upgrade space for third-party companies to come in,” Breen said.
Breen said he hopes the third parties will work on projects that may have relevance to DuPont, although that isn’t a requirement. He sees the Experimental Station becoming an “incubation center.”
Already, a few tenants occupy buildings at the Experimental Station, including two firms formerly part of DuPont—the chemical maker Chemours and the paint business Axalta—and the drug company Incyte.
The investment in the Experimental Station will also accommodate the fracturing of DuPont that will follow its merger with Dow, which is expected to close in the coming weeks. Within two years of the merger, DowDuPont will split into three separate firms. A materials science firm will be based in Midland, Mich. Agriculture and specialty products companies will have headquarters in Wilmington.
Last month, Dow announced it will build a new R&D center in Midland that will employ 200 scientists.