Chemours plans to move 330 research jobs now located at DuPont’s Experimental Station in Wilmington, Del., to the University of Delaware’s Science, Technology & Advanced Research Campus 15 miles away in Newark, Del.
Chemours, the titanium dioxide and fluorochemicals maker that spun off from DuPont two years ago, struck a deal to build a 29,000 m2 innovation center on the school’s campus at a cost of $150 million. Plans are to complete the new facility by early 2020.
The new facility, accompanied by a long-term research partnership with the university, will aid Chemours in its desire “to be the best in the world at using chemistry to develop products and applications that serve our customers’ needs,” says Chemours CEO Mark Vergnano.
Chemours will join several startup firms and academic units at the Advanced Research Campus. The University of Delaware acquired the 272-acre site, which once housed a Chrysler assembly plant about 10 years ago.
Chemours’s decision to move a substantial number of research jobs from the Experimental Station adds to recent losses for the facility, where discoveries including Teflon fluoropolymers and Suva non-ozone-depleting refrigerants were made. Both products are part of Chemours today. Other discoveries made at the station include nylon and neoprene.
The station took a hit early last year when, in anticipation of its merger with Dow Chemical, DuPont folded its Central R&D unit into a Science & Innovation operation. The move eliminated about 200 research positions, according to figures C&EN obtained at the time.
And in 2015 Axalta, DuPont’s former paint business, said it will move 190 researchers from Wilmington to Philadelphia. The paint maker plans to complete the shift next year.
In an effort to reinvigorate the site, DuPont said earlier this year that it will invest $200 million to turn it into a research park. The improvements are intended to prepare the site to host DowDuPont businesses and provide a research setting for other businesses that today also include the pharmaceutical firm Incyte.
As Chemours and Axalta prepare to leave Wilmington, DuPont has begun to host startup businesses there. In April it created the Delaware Innovation Space, which is already hosting three pharmaceutical startups and the Science Technology & Research Institute of Delaware, an organization of mostly ex-DuPont scientists willing to do contract chemistry research.