SCG Chemicals’ investments in Research and Development (R&D), and partnerships with British and Norwegian firms have resulted in breakthrough inventions that use nanotechnology and other technologies in the polymer industry. In our interview, today we speak with Ms. Tine Rorvik, CEO of Norner Holding AS. Norner, Despite being a wholly own subsidiary of SCG Chemicals, Norner maintains an independent R&D consulting service provider to customers worldwide.
Norner is a global market leader of industrial R&D services in Polymers with more than 40 years of industrial experience. Norner provides innovation, strategic advisory and laboratory testing services. From gas conversion to polymer modification and polymerisation, additives for polymers to the extrusion and end use of plastics, Norner continuously strives to make a difference for the industry.
Could you tell us about the collaboration?
It has been 2 years since we began our partnership with SCG Chemicals, and I can say that everybody is very happy to be a part of the SCG family. In December 2014, SCG Chemicals acquired the majority of shares in Norner Holding and in Septembe2015 became a 100% owner. Through this strategic investment in Norner, SCG Chemicals targets to grow and strengthen Norner further as a global independent innovation partner for the plastics value chain.
How important is R&D for the polymer and chemical industry?
If you want to develop with your clients, you have to continuously come up with new products. Their requirements could change by simply visiting a grocery store. Customers are always looking out for exciting new designs and maybe more environmentally friendly solutions. The drive to innovate comes mostly from the possible wants of the consumers. Raw material producers need to follow up on that and translate those wants into new products. It is extremely important for the long term profitably of the company. If you have commodity products for too long, the value will decrease, the competition will be tough. Continuously innovating is vital for the business as well as for bringing about a continuous change and development in society.
What are the challenges that the R&D sector normally face?
A large company like SCG Chemicals can be very diverse with multiple things going on simultaneously. Prioritizing resources for the right project can be a difficult task. You have to plan 5-10 years ahead for project what is likely to work or be attractive and useful in the future. Selecting amongst projected options is possibly the toughest decision in our sector, from my experience in a big company. Another notable thing is you may have a wish-list of what you would want a product to have, and the idea may sound brilliant, but scientifically it may not yet be possible to materialize it. Basically even after you have chosen the projects to focus on, work on the specifications of your idea, you don’t really know if you will ever achieve your target. It’s possibly more difficult than production because of its level of unpredictability.
What are the key success factors that you would say make Norner a global R&D firm?
We do our best to be part of what is happening in the society. We think 5-10 years ahead, as well as have the know-how that customers would like us to have. This doesn’t come in 5 minutes so we strategize to know exactly what we should be good at in 5-10 years from now. For instance, we have selected advanced composites, nano materials and chemicals of course, but also sustainability, green polymers, recyclable polymers, things that are very important now already. We make sure we are good in these fields, but more importantly build great relationships with our customers so they can provide feedback and innovate together with us.
Can you give some words of inspirational advice for those who would like to work in R&D?
You should have a heart for technology. It’s a gift to work in research, because you never know what will meet you around the corner. You need to explore all types of different things. It’s a little bit like being a detective. Be curious, explore the borders, be a little bit crazy and also think ahead. A researcher also needs to have an understanding of business because if there’s no business benefit, the project is unlikely to come through. One should really enjoy the possibilities of exploring new technology and strive to keep that inner motivation and inspiration alive, that I think is vital for a researcher.
Having a world-class R&D professional contributor like Norner as another key driving force to co-create SCG Chemicals’ innovative solutions and to steer the company towards greater business operation excellence, we can expect to see more concrete breakthroughs coming up in petro chemicals industry. Let’s keep a close look on this to see more exciting innovations coming underway.