ABB invests in overseas research

Zurich-based ABB group is deepening its activities in Asia with a $100million plan for a series of three new research and development centres in the region. The project is linked to ambitious plans by to double Asian sales by the middle of this decade. ABB’s sales in Asia are currently 15% of company revenues.

ABB intends to set up its new centres in India, Singapore and China, specialising respectively in software, fibre optics and electronics, and new energy technologies and automation. The company hopes to employ a total of roughly 500 in the establishments by 2003. ‘We feel we can learn [about technology] from these countries which will help us build up our local capabilities,’ said Goran Lindahl, ABB’s chief executive.

With annual sales of about $20billion, ABB spends $2billion a year on research and technology development. The $100million investment in the new centres will take place over the next four years. The new centres will be in addition to the 10 similar establishments that the company already operates, of which seven are in Europe and three in North America. However, in its plans for setting up the new centres, ABB lags behind its arch European rival Siemens, which already has research and technology operations in China, India and Japan.