October 2014.- Europe’s chemical industry is an important part of its economic motor, generating 21.5% of the world’s chemical market and 41.6% of global exports (CEFIC Chemdata), ahead of Asia (35%) and NAFTA (13.5%).
Catalonia reflects this importance on a regional level with major chemical infrastructures such as the ChemMed facilities in Tarragona in Southern Catalonia and a wide range of speciality chemical industries found in the Barcelona area. In terms of investments, a specific subsector of “paints, coatings, adhesives & additives” also has generated the most number of foreign investment projects in recent years, thanks to companies such as Henkel, Kemira, DSM, Bayer or Bluestar Sillicones, to mention just a few.
Miwon Specialty Chemicals Co. Ltd
A recent addition to this list is the Korean firm Miwon Specialty Chemicals Co. Ltd, producing coatings for high tech companies like Dupont, LG and Samsung and which has recently located in Catalonia.
Miwon belongs to the group of the five leading manufacturers that lead the world in this sector, with the state of the art coatings it produces being specifically designed to reduce pollutants emission, thanks to a technique called Energy Curing. This entails applying a special treatment on molecular surfaces (monomers, polymers and oligomers) using UV light or an electron flow that creates the desired surface properties without emitting unwanted particles into the atmosphere. The use for this technique is widespread, however high industry standards make it common in electronic equipment, fibre optics, printing, adhesives, as well as traditional sectors such as the wood industry
Why expanding in Europe from Catalonia?
Miwon has decided to begin its European expansion setting up a subsidiary in the town of Manresa in the centre of Catalonia. The factory will specialise in the firm’s most specialised products, providing monomers, polymers and oligomers to clients both in Europe and in the rest of the world. More specifically, the company will focus on oligomers and water based products thanks to research, which it will perform in its laboratory based in the same factory.
Qualified staff thanks to Catalonia’s chemical industry history plus competitive southern European labour costs in the face of higher salaries in central and northern Europe were both key issues in deciding to locate the factory and R+D centre here. Accessibility to major central European markets and its proximity to ports of Barcelona and Tarragona, were also other factors that weighed in Catalonia’s favour. Furthermore, the sector is tending towards the development of products in collaboration with clients, which was also another important factor to locate this new manufacturing project in Europe.
Miwon’s Spain General Manager, Dr. Joaquim Zoeller, also emphasised that another key factor was the agility and facilities they experienced in being able to put the project into operation, thanks to the services provided by Invest in Catalonia. The firm was able to rapidly find a factory for sale with an adjacent warehouse that they could buy and refurbish directly, whilst also getting the necessary permits in the meanwhile. Their positive experience in the setting up process could be a message to other international chemical firms aiming to set up shop in Europe.
About the company
Miwon Specialty Chemicals has a turnover of some € 190M worldwide in a market showing a constant yearly growth rate of 5% in terms of volume and 7% in terms of market value. Its main competitors are Allnex, Arkema and IGM. Miwon started operations 20 years ago to serve the Energy Curing markets as one of Miwon Commercial’s business units. In 2009 it established itself independently with two clear objectives: focus on development together with clients and to become a worldwide leader in the sector: and the fact that it has chosen Catalonia as its base of operations for its European expansion is a clear vote of confidence in Catalonia’s global competitiveness.