Press release
June 29, 2007

Catalysis: Degussa and the Leibniz Institute Conclude Frame Research Agreement Valued at Over €1.5 Million

Degussa and the Leibniz-Institut für Katalyse e.V. at the University of Rostock (LIKAT) have concluded a three-year frame research agreement. Under the agreement, the Institute will develop new catalysts and optimize catalysts for existing production processes for Degussa. In addition to resources that will be allocated to specific projects, two employees of the Institute will devote themselves full-time to the Degussa projects. The company, for its part, will provide about €1.5 million for the partnership. Running research projects with LIKAT are not affected by the agreement, and will be performed under the terms of the project related research agreements. “Catalysis is the strongest leverage we have for efficient chemical production: It allows us to save energy, avoid byproducts and waste, and thereby control quality and costs," says Prof. Michael Dröscher, head of Innovation Management Chemicals at Degussa. “By concluding this frame research agreement, we are securing access to Europe's top research in this field."

Degussa already maintains numerous partnerships with LIKAT, which is Europe's largest catalysis research institute. The joint developments include catalysts for optimization of the C4 Chemistry Business Unit’s complex integrated production network at the Marl site, ligands for homogeneously catalyzed asymmetrical reactions, as well as for CC, CO and CN couplings, which Degussa has now successfully marketed.

Thanks to the frame research agreement, future projects with LIKAT can be launched and implemented fast, without bureaucratic delays. “Normally, a separate contract covering the legal basis of the partnership and intellectual property rights has to be concluded for each individual project with a university or research institute. The negotiations usually take three months—sometimes up to six months,” explains Dr. Oswald Helmling, an employee in Degussa’s Intellectual Property Management department. “Because the legal details are defined in the frame agreement, the scientists have to work out only the key technical aspects and the financial framework of a new project, and can then start immediately."

For Prof. Matthias Beller, managing director of LIKAT, the contract means greater efficiency at the interface between science and industry: “Turning new scientific findings into concrete market products is an increasingly complex and time-consuming process—as a rule, it takes more than a few months to complete. For both sides, the new basic research agreement means a strategic partnership in the field of catalysis that allows us to steadily pursue attractive catalysis results. This means a more efficient transfer from invention to innovation,” says Beller.

LIKAT, which was established in early 2006 through the merging of the IfOK (Institut für Organische Katalyseforschung an der Universität Rostock e.V.) and the ACA (Institut für Angewandte Chemie Berlin-Adlershof e.V.), is one of Europe’s leading catalysis research institutes. The focus of its work is advanced development of the results of basic research, all the way to technical implementation. Its stellar reputation is due in no small part to its director. Beller received two awards last year—the Leibniz Award of the German Research Association for his scientific achievements, and the Federal Cross of Merit for his role as intermediary between science and industry. According to the laudation, the 45-year-old Beller has created a highly effective network between university and non-university research.