3M Opens $150M State-Of-The-Art Research And Development Lab
For years, 3M has called research and development the “symbolic heartbeat of the company.” To show how seriously they embrace it, 3M unveiled on Friday a new $150 million research and development building on the campus of its Maplewood headquarters.
The manufacturer behind Post-It notes, Scotch tape and other industrial supplies said the nearly 470,000-square-foot facility has an open design with most of the few walls that exist made of glass, which it believes will foster collaboration between the roughly 700 scientists working there.
3M has been steadily rebuilding its research and development (R&D) platform following a period of cost-cutting endeavors at the start of the millennium. Today, products introduced in the last five years make up roughly one-third of its sales, and 3M’s CEO, Inge Thulin, is a staunch advocate of increased R&D spending.
Upon taking over in February 2012, Thulin vowed to up the percentage of 3M’s sales dedicated to R&D work annually from 5 percent to 6 percent by 2017. So far, the company is investing 5.8 percent of its sales to R&D, which amounts to $1.8 billion.
According to 3M’s R&D webpage, the company produces more than 3,000 patents each year (more than 106,000 in total). With 3M employees from 46 technology platforms—ranging from adhesives to nanotechnology—comingling in the same space, a number of 3M scientists believe the new R&D facility will bring forth a new sense of collaboration.
“This space represents an opportunity to work differently,” Lee Stanek, product commercialization manager for 3M’s aerospace and commercial transportation unit, said in a statement. “Sometimes that’s enough to cause you to think in a different way. Just like visiting customers, you see things in new ways. We are working in a different space, collaborating with different people—we don’t know yet what can happen.”
As part of TCB’s Companies To Watch In 2016 list, 3M was picked by an RBC Capital Markets analyst as a company to keep an eye on this year.