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Innovating performance materials

Merck’s Innovation Hub at Southampton Science Park has showcased its new global laboratories which were officially opened by local MP, Caroline Nokes.

The expanding site is one of the company’s most significant Performance Materials R&D sites globally. Home to a 90-strong multinational team, the laboratories undertake ground-breaking research on advanced electronic and optoelectronic materials – the products which underpin much of the smartphone and tablet technology used today and in the future.

As the world-leading supplier of liquid crystals, Merck is instrumental in the rapidly developing field of organic and printed electronics. Every smartphone in the world contains materials supplied by Merck - from materials for LCD and OLED displays, to those used in the most cutting-edge memory chips.

In addition, the Science Park site is leading on the development of the next generation of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, or “organic PV”, which has enabled the development of a more lightweight, less expensive to produce, and totally flexible solar panel. These solar panels respond to all visible light, giving them the ability to be used both inside and outside as part of future development of integrated PV.

Caroline Nokes MP said: “I am delighted to open the new laboratories at Merck’s Chilworth Innovation Hub at Southampton Science Park and see first-hand the ground-breaking R&D taking place in our community. This cutting-edge work in smart phone and solar panel technology really puts Southampton on the map – I’m immensely proud that this work is taking place within our local area.”

Dr Owen Lozman, Site Director and Merck’s Global Platform R&D Director, explained: “Merck Performance Materials has been a UK success story for many years; the UK was instrumental in the development of liquid crystals dating back to the 1970s. This expansion further cements the UK at the centre of Merck’s innovative product pipeline for Performance Materials.

Owen continued: “I am very excited about the future opportunities for our operations at this site as they continue to expand to support Merck’s position as a leading science and technology company. Some £10m per year is specifically channelled from technology developed at our Chilworth laboratories into R&D in the UK so there is a continual cycle of investment, future proofing Merck’s presence and commitment here.

“This investment in Performance Materials is allowing the development and commercialisation of new display modes and printed electronics to enable the devices that fuel modern society.”

Peter Birkett, CEO of Southampton Science Park commented: “I am delighted to see the growth of Merck’s Innovation Hub activities as the company expands into new laboratories in our Science Centre. Not only is this a testament to the strength of the Merck business but it also marks a new era of greater integration with the growing Science Park community which I expect will bring many exciting collaborative developments to the fore.”

"I’m immensely proud that this work is taking place within our local area."

Caroline Nokes, Local MP