Brian T. Makowski, Manager - Polymer Innovation and Platform Development at The Sherwin-Williams Company speaks with TechConnect News.
Please tell us about yourself and your role within Sherwin-Williams.
I manage the Polymer Innovation group within Sherwin-Williams. My group is devoted to development of next generation and breakthrough polymers for use in Sherwin-Williams paints and coatings. We focus on all market segments including coatings for architectural, automotive, and industrial applications. I have a Ph.D. in Polymer Science from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland OH, where I focused on development of optical polymers. During my time at Sherwin-Williams, I have worked in both technical and management roles focused mainly on acrylic, alkyd, and polyurethane technologies. One of my responsibilities is establishing new partnerships with companies and universities. I believe that there are some incredible technologies that Sherwin-Williams can leverage from strategic partnerships.
What are technology/solution areas that you have a primary interest in?
I am interested in polymers and technologies that improve the performance of coatings in a range of ways. Specific interest areas include improvements in: Anti-corrosion, Physical and UV Durability of materials, Sustainability, Unique Appearances and textures, simplifying the Painting Process, and mutlifunctional (Smart) Coatings.
What level of commercial maturity do you typically look for in technology partnerships?
I am open to any level of commercial maturity. With that being said, my group has a strong emphasis on speed to market, so I am more likely to invest resources in technology that has a feasible pathway to commercialization. I prefer novel technologies that use reliable raw material sources and have defined commercially viable production processes. I recognize that there is often a creative way to bring a new technology to market even from rather new, previously unexplored territories so I am willing to engage in these discussions with my partners.
Tell us why innovation is important to your company and how this model supports your efforts to find new innovations.
Sherwin-Williams has a strong and continued interest in solutions that add value to our customers. Across the company there are groups devoted to innovative new technologies spanning all market segments. We have a robust scouting program to establish connections with external partners. This program has created fruitful collaborations with start-ups, small companies and universities. Within the scouting department is a proof-of-concept lab to help validate the technologies of our external partners and showcase them to other groups within Sherwin-Williams.
Why work with TechConnect and the National Innovation Summit as a technology prospector? Who are you looking to meet with?
I have attended TechConnect in the past and found it to be a very useful forum for discovering emerging new technologies. I have found TechConnect to attract a wide variety of small companies and universities that have novel ideas. This year I will give a presentation on my Innovation team and how we like to work with other companies.
What did you like most about the 2016 conferences? Or could you share an example of a collaboration or connection you made at TechConnect World?
I really enjoyed the short presentation format. Presentations ranged from 7 to 15 minutes, allowing focused highlights of new technologies with the possibility of following up later with the speakers if more detail was of interest. This made best use of time considering more presentations could be heard while focusing on the main high level points.
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