LG Chem puts stress on R&D center, new hires

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LG Chem puts stress on R&D center, new hires

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Lee Jin-kyu

LG Chem, the nation’s largest chemical company, is revamping its research and design capabilities and hunting for world-class scientists.

The affiliate of LG Group said Tuesday it hired Seoul National University (SNU) Prof. Lee Jin-kyu as its research chairman. The position is equivalent to a senior vice president.

LG Chem said Lee is an expert in inorganic nanomaterials, earning a doctorate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under the guidance of Richard R. Schrock, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2005.

Lee, 52, has been working as an SNU chemistry professor since 1998. He has published 106 academic papers and has applied for some 100 patents, according to the company.

LG Chem first worked with Lee in 2013 at its Corporate R&D Center in Daejeon, collaborating on technology issues and research projects. Lee said he liked the research atmosphere and R&D support of LG Chem at the time.

The company said Lee will start working next month, leading inorganic nanomaterial research, specifically for new battery materials and hybrids of organic and inorganic materials.

“Lee’s recruitment will speed up our research in inorganic materials, which the company is fostering greatly,” said Kim Min-hwan, the chief human resources officer at LG Chem. “We will make this a successful example of an academic expert leading the company’s growth in an R&D-centered corporate culture.”

LG Chem said Lee’s recruitment signaled a new start in its R&D activities. The company said its Central R&D Center will be responsible for developing new technology for future growth that can be applied to all three of its business areas - basic materials, IT materials and batteries.

LG Chem, one of leading suppliers of lithium-ion batteries, said that it plans to raise the percentage of doctorate holders working at the Central R&D Center to 40 percent.

There are about 2,900 researchers working at the company’s Research Park in Daejeon, while each of the three business divisions has its own research center.

“When the business environment is difficult, it’s normal for a company to reduce its R&D investments, but we will keep expanding our R&D capabilities to become a world-class materials company,” said Yoo Jin-nyoung, the chief of LG Chem Research Park.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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