Technology & substitution

Strategic focus area

Economic performance Value chain & society Eco efficiency

Change in risk profile


Change in opportunity profile


Potential impact

Umicore is a materials technology group with a strong focus on the development of innovative materials and processes. The choice and development of these technologies represents the single biggest opportunity and risk for Umicore. Umicore’s production plants and services highly depend on the availability of IT services. Unavailability of services, disruption of the supply chains or interruption of our production facilities by cyber-attacks could have a major impact on our customers. A compromise in the confidentiality of intellectual property would negatively impact our competitive advantage. Unauthorized modification of financial data would jeopardize accurate reporting to shareholders.

Achieving the best cost-performance balance for materials is a priority for Umicore and its customers. There is always a risk that customers will seek alternative materials for their products should those of Umicore not provide this optimum balance. The risk is especially present in businesses producing materials containing expensive metals (especially those with historically volatile pricing characteristics).

Change in context

Cyber-attacks may be very focused and advanced. The expanding threat landscape and expanding digital footprint is leading to an increase in cyber-attacks. Several cases of industrial manufacturing businesses being interrupted for several weeks as the result of a cyber incident have been extensively covered in the media.

Trends in rechargeable battery materials for automotive applications have underscored that NMC materials with increasing nickel content are the technology of choice for customers in current and upcoming electrified vehicle platforms. Besides the focus on high performing battery materials, novel processes are being developed to decrease cost and environmental impact across the entire battery value chain. In vehicle emission control, regulatory debates have reinforced the need for a broad spectrum of technologies for both gasoline and diesel applications.

Measures taken by umicore

Umicore assessed the state of cyber resilience of its IT landscape against the current cyber threats. Our findings were translated in a cyber security roadmap. Progress is reported to the Executive Committee semi-annually. Execution of the cyber security roadmap is ongoing, awareness campaigns for the entire staff are organized and the IT security organization has been extended.

Every year, the Executive Committee identifies innovation projects (“Top 10”) which are key to achieving Horizon 2020 (and beyond) growth ambitions and cover product and process developments. A selection of these projects is reviewed during the year either through dedicated technology reviews or as part of strategic business reviews. Previous years’ R&D investments have brought great success and created a space to shift R&D positioning. Umicore invested selectively in new fields relevant to core activities in 2019. Overall spend was equivalent to 6.2% of revenues and in 2019, the Innovation Fit for

Future program was launched to protect technology leadership and future growth. Umicore patents disruptive technologies. In 2019, Umicore registered 56 new patent families. For more information, see Innovation and R&D.

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