AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – Paint and coatings manufacturer AkzoNobel is investing more than €6.5 million in its Songjiang site near Shanghai, China, to expand an existing research center by adding a dedicated facility for the company's Performance Coatings businesses.

Once completed in June 2015, the new development and application center will add capability and capacity to serve growing demand throughout Asia for innovative solutions targeted at the packaging, coil, specialty finishes and powder coatings markets.

The extension will also double the number of people working in R&D at Songjiang, to around 200, over the next couple of years. When fully operational, the new laboratory will be Performance Coatings' second-largest research and development base after Felling in the UK.

"Boosting our R&D capabilities in Asia means we can accelerate the development and formulation of new products tailor-made for the Asian market," said Conrad Keijzer, AkzoNobel's Executive Committee member responsible for Performance Coatings. "The expanded R&D center will therefore play a crucial role in supporting our growth ambitions - for China in particular - and will provide us with a major innovation facility located close to our customers in the region."

Strategically positioned in the greater Shanghai area, the Songjiang site was recently expanded to create one of AkzoNobel's biggest resin plants for performance coatings in the world. In total, around 300 people are currently employed at the location.