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BASF Launches New International Footwear Development and Innovation Centers

German chemical manufacturer BASF has announced far-reaching new investments in the footwear segment of its business.

The company will be opening new Footwear Development Centers in Thailand and the U.S., while expanding its center in Italy. It will also open a brand new Innovation Center in Taiwan, according to BASF’s head of communications, Susan Jackson.

“We believe that these countries are hot spots for the footwear industry, a lot of exciting innovation takes place there,” she told Sourcing Journal.

The company’s headquarters is based in Wyandotte, Mich., and much of BASF’s research and development for other sectors of its business happens at the campus. “It made sense to also include footwear capabilities,” Jackson said.

The new, 2000-square-foot lab in Wyandotte is equipped with machines for manufacturing outsole, midsole and soles through polyurethane injection molding. According to BASF, the center and its advanced technology will help designers create and test their visions and increase speed to market.

The new and expanded Development Centers in Thailand and Italy will also carry injection molding technology, and will cater to designers and brand customers in both regions who are looking to test the performance capabilities of BASF’s materials and find efficient solutions for their design quandaries.

“We can offer big brands like Reebok, Brooks and Under Armour close support in the U.S., and we are well positioned in the heart of European footwear fashion, Northern Italy,” Jackson said. The company’s Thailand operation will be especially helpful for brands and suppliers with production hubs in the region, she added.

By contrast, the company’s Taiwan Innovation Center, which opens in 2020, will focus on “the long term development of new materials,” Jackson said.

“Taiwan has always been a hotbed for textile and footwear innovation. There is a whole ecosystem of specialized companies that we have great relationships with,” she said, explaining that BASF’s new facility would aid in helping brands and designers in both the conception and the formulation of new material compounds.

“It is a place to create new ideas and trial them quickly and to bring people together from different parts of the industry,” she said.