Research and its interfaces : the case of Rhodia

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Scientific director, Rhodia

Seminar Management of Innovation | Wednesday November 19, 2003

How should research be coordinated within a group which has a great variety of activities and which is as decentralised as it can be ? For several years, Jean Gauthier-Lafaye, a scientific director at Rhodia, has been trying to deal with this problem by creating various interfaces between the corporate world and companies, and also between companies themselves. He has proposed the following methods which he has put in place and which appear to bear fruit : firstly, audits in current research have been carried out both by the Scientific and Technological Council and by the chairman and managing director of the group ; secondly, corporate research centres have been created which are devoted not only to research specific to the company but also to research carried out by several companies and which a single company is incapable of carrying out alone ; thirdly, the creation of laboratories which cut across various areas of interest ; fourthly, the creation of laboratories of the future which are interdisciplinary and isolated from the rest of research and which are intended to perfect new technologies for the whole group ; fifthly, laboratories 'without walls'which exist between various research centres ; and finally, he has implemented the use of software for common management projects for all the companies of the group.

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