The company declined to outline the financial cost of the project in Mumbai. But it said: 'We are utilising the existing facility at Navi Mumbai. Investment is in parts and simulation equipment.'
Customers will be able to explore materials; use interactive digital tools and take part in workshops about turning ideas into products and the materials to use.
Postlethwaite explained how the new centre will strengthen BASF's presence in the country. 'We have two PU system houses in Thane (Navi Mumbai) and a new one in Dahej,Gujarat. We import Isocyanates from our sites in Korea and China.'
BASF's integrated polyurethane manufacturing hub in Dahej opened in 2014. Investment was estimated at EUR 150m.
That site produces Elastollan thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU); Cellasto microcellular polyurethane components for automotive NVH components. It also makes other rigid polyurethane products for thermal insulation.
Postlethwaite said: 'We may consider increasing capacity at Dahej in response to the market requirements in future. But site has adequate capacity to meet the growing demand for PU in the Indian market, he added.
Although BASF has are no plans for raw material expansions, systems could see more growth, said Postlethwaite. 'We are hoping for more [systems houses] in the future. We have had very good business development in materials like polyurethane, plastics and specialty materials. This is particularly true in the automotive and appliance markets. Currently, we have enough capacity and if growth continues, we will certainly look at investing here.'
Over the next five years, BASF will 'continue to focus on key market segments. Automotive remains one of the key focus areas,' he said. Adding that he expects to see growth in refrigeration and India's cold chain. The new government has pledged to further electrify 'rural areas [it] is likely to spur the refrigeration sector. Refrigerators need polyurethane and offer a huge opportunity to grow in domestic applications and in the cold chain,' he added.
Thermal insulation products will also become more important in the construction sector.
Footwear has long been a key market for polyurethane in India. Postlethwaite said this moving towards more quality and higher performance.'
India is the world's fourth largest automotive market globally and many OEMs have production there. BASF is working with them.
'We continue to innovate and develop. For example, we are looking at new polyurethane applications for the automotive industry. We are trying to make parts lighter and lower in density. We are trying to convert some parts to PU composite materials,' he said.
The Creation Center showcases car seats, and steering wheels which are usually made with polyurethane. Newer areas such as polyurethane composites with paper honeycombs are also displayed. These can be used in load-bearing applications.
BASF strategy has been to localise its products as much as possible in the last few years. That has led to the construction of an engineering plastics plant, two system houses in India. BASF has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Indian conglomerate, Adani. This is to build a petrochemical site in Mundra at a cost of INR 160 m ($2.3bn).
'BASF is also excited about the future with the extension of the government in India. This gives us a platform to grow,' said Postlethwaite.
'We are constantly monitoring market requirements of the region and if there is a need to grow in Pakistan or Bangladesh in future, we will certainly react, considering strategic options.'