June 20, 2014 3:14 am JST

Panasonic scaling back basic research

TOKYO -- As part of a broader structural reorganization, Panasonic is downsizing its R&D division and shifting half of the staff to business divisions.

     Come October, only around 500 researchers will remain in the R&D division, which operates under the control of the head office with a mandate to conduct fundamental research to plant the seeds for future business as much as 10 years later.

     With a staff half the size, the R&D division will work on focused themes, including the water business and hydrogen-related science.

     The rest of the researchers will be reassigned to business divisions like automotive and housing, where they will work on technologies such as automated driving systems for cars and energy-management systems for homes.

     Despite the reshuffling, Panasonic intends to maintain the same level of annual spending on R&D, for which the Osaka-based company has earmarked just under 500 billion yen ($4.85 billion).

     Panasonic submitted more international patents than anyone else in 2013, attesting to the importance the company places on research and development.

     However, it has begun strengthening its collaborations amid the present trend for open innovation, and therefore sees less of a need for assigning so many scientists to fundamental research.