Evonik, a leading specialty chemicals company, has opened a new Innovation Hub at its Allentown, Pa., site. The Hub consists of several state-of-the-art testing and processing labs as well as a pilot plant. It also features a newly designed collaboration space to support a hybrid and creative work environment. The expansion will create 50 highly paid jobs for scientists, engineers, and lab technicians in the Lehigh Valley region around Allentown.
The Innovation Hub is part of a broader globalization strategy for Research, Development & Innovation (RD&I) at the Germany-based company. “We are strengthening regional RD&I hubs in Asia and North America to benefit from innovative ideas outside of Europe and be closer to our customers in those regions,” said Evonik Chief Financial Officer Ute Wolf at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Allentown Innovation Hub. “The new Hub will transform the Allentown site into our premier center for research, business, and innovation in North America.”
RD&I is a growth driver for Evonik and a key lever to its sustainability transformation. By 2030, Evonik aims to invest more than $3 billion in Next Generation Solutions – products with superior sustainability benefits. Evonik will invest an additional $700 million in Next Generation Technologies to optimize production processes and infrastructure and avoid CO2 emissions.
North America is an essential growth market for Evonik. The region contributed roughly a quarter (23%) to Evonik’s annual sales in 2021, making it the second-largest revenue source after Europe (EMEA). Evonik has invested several billion dollars in North America since 2017, when the company acquired the specialty additives business of Allentown-based industrial gas producer Air Products. “Allentown has been an increasingly important part of our footprint ever since,” said Bonnie Tully, President North America region. “The opening of our Innovation Hub marks the next phase of our growth trajectory in North America.”
Evonik currently employs 300 people at the Allentown site, which is close to Philadelphia, New York City, and many premier research institutions. “Addressing the global challenges of our time requires the worldwide collaboration of competent partners,” said Ralph Marquardt, Evonik’s Chief Innovation Officer. “North America has a thriving ecosystem for R&D due to world-class universities, innovative companies, and an entrepreneurial startup scene. We are looking forward to developing innovative solutions together.”
Evonik’s new High Performance Polymers lab in Allentown allows the processing and testing of plastics for 3D printing, medical implants, or performance foams in airplanes or cars. Another lab enables the formulation and testing of additives for industrial coatings. Allentown’s best-in-class polyurethane spray foam testing and emission chamber helps Evonik customers meet environmental and emission standards.
“Evonik’s new, state-of-the-art space will build on Pennsylvania’s strength as a center for advanced manufacturing,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. “I’m proud to have invested $2.5 million in this Innovation Hub that will bring new, good-paying jobs to the Allentown region.”
The Innovation Hub also features a flexible collaboration space to support and enhance a hybrid work environment. The uniquely designed space offers open areas for employees to work onsite without needing individual offices. Employees have access to cutting-edge technology like digital whiteboards or tools for video conferencing. “The collaboration space promotes interactions across our business lines and functions,” said Tracey Mole, Vice President Business & Innovation Center at the Allentown site. “It will shape the future of work at Evonik and contribute to our culture of innovation.”
“I am proud to see international companies like Evonik recognize the strategic strengths of having a significant presence in Allentown,” said Rep. Susan Wild. “With our proximity to major metropolitan areas, highly skilled workforce, and long history of embracing manufacturing and innovation, we are poised to ensure Evonik’s next phase of growth results in success for Evonik, our economy, and the community.”
The continued expansion of the Allentown site underscores Evonik’s commitment to the Lehigh Valley community, which goes beyond creating job opportunities. Evonik has recently donated $100,000 to support the Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Initiative of the Da Vinci Science Center, Allentown’s award-winning science museum. WISE was established as part of the Science Center’s broader commitment to supporting women and girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The donation highlights Evonik’s ongoing support of education and diversity in STEM fields.