Increasing globalization and the ever more rapidly changing conditions mean that companies must have the ability to react quickly to the requirements of the market and customers. In addition to ensuring lean and efficient structures and the optimum use of resources, Clariant also concentrates on recognizing future requirements within the context of megatrends and developing its products accordingly. For this reason, one focus of the company’s R&D activities is on innovation in the future growth areas of energy efficiency, resource management, and alternative energies as well as renewable raw materials.
Clariant publishes current examples of these innovations on a quarterly basis in a number of forms, including animations about innovative products and their applications, on the company website under the title “Innovation Spotlight.” www.innovation.clariant.com
The acquisition of Süd-Chemie in the year under review led to another significant expansion of Clariant’s technology platforms, which now include chemical technologies, biotechnology, catalysis, and process technology. By doing this, the company is generating further potential for the future so that it can continue pursuing its strategic goal of sustainable profitable growth, even in difficult economic conditions.
From idea to market: Clariant’s innovation process
Innovation comprises the entire complex process from the development of an idea through to the successful market launch of a new product. In order to implement this process effectively, Clariant has set up an innovation management system which is firmly established throughout the entire Group and aligned the organizational structure of R&D accordingly. On this basis, efficient and targeted use is made of the available resources for developing new products and applications with great potential for the future.
Realignment of the R&D organization to increase efficiency
The R&D organization, which was already restructured in 2010 and consists of the Group Research & Development Centers for Colorants, Surfactants and Alkoxylates, Effect Chemicals and Intermediates, Specialty Polymers, and Formulation Technology, has combined know-how and strengthened technology platforms. The work of the R&D Centers includes not only developing new molecules and polymers but also optimizing formulations. The Intellectual Property Management Department develops patent strategies together with the Business Units and thus secures Clariant’s know-how. These new solutions are then tested in the application development laboratories of the Business Units in order to assess their viability in practice. Before an R&D project is approved, the cost effectiveness of innovations is assessed by comparing the expenditure on research, production, and marketing with the expected returns.
The company’s research strengths – at Clariant mainly chemicals, and at the new subsidiary Süd-Chemie Catalysis and Biotechnology – will generate significant synergy effects. The combination of Süd- Chemie’s experience in catalysis, enzyme technologies, fermentation and materials separation with Clariant’s expertise in chemical modification of renewable raw materials and in polymer technology opens the way for the development of, for example, new surfactants, which have considerable growth potential.
In addition to Group R&D, the Group Technology Services function includes the organizational units Group Process Development, Group Engineering, New Business Development, and Intellectual Property Management. Using innovative process technology, Group Process Development brings chemical processes to production scale and increases the efficiency of existing chemical processes. New Business Development is responsible for developing new business outside of existing business activities.
Innovation Excellence launched in 2011
To make R&D even more efficient and effective, Clariant has launched a new idea-tomarket process within the Group in the form of the Clariant Innovation Excellence (CIX) initiative. CIX is the fourth pillar of Clariant Excellence and was introduced in July 2011. The idea-to-market process is implemented consistently throughout the Group and is designed to scout, scope, develop, and commercialize innovation ideas within the shortest possible time frame. Between the individual steps, the achievements are compared with the original goals and market requirements (stage gate) before the green light is given for the next stage.
R&D workforce moved to 1 100
As a result of the consolidation of Süd-Chemie, Clariant’s R&D workforce increased to 1 100 as of the end of 2011 – twice as many as in the previous year.
This led to an increase in R&D expenditure from CHF 135 million in 2010 to CHF 176 million in the year under review. As a proportion of Group sales, this corresponds to an increase from 1.9 percent in 2010 to 2.4 percent. The main driver of this increase was Süd-Chemie’s traditionally high R&D expenditure. In the two new Clariant businesses, Functional Materials and Catalysis & Energy, which were added as part of the acquisition, R&D expenditure was well over 5 percent (in terms of sales).
The R&D activities at the five R&D Centers mentioned above are located in Frankfurt/ Höchst and Gendorf (Germany), Reinach (Switzerland), Lamotte (France), and Suzano (Brazil). Another Research & Development Center is planned in Asia in the foreseeable future. After the completion of the Clariant Innovation Center in 2013, Clariant will have one of the most cuttingedge research centers in the world in Frankfurt/ Höchst. All global R&D activities will be coordinated from this center.
The Business Units also maintain around 65 technical centers – in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America – so that the regions can be offered technical service and technical customer projects can be supported. The development of new and the optimization of existing production processes mainly takes place in three process development centers in Frankfurt/Höchst, Gendorf, and Lamotte. Süd-Chemie’s major R&D sites are in Germany (Munich, Heufeld, and Moosburg), USA (Louisville, Palo Alto), and Japan (Toyama).
Together with Süd-Chemie, Clariant holds over 9 500 patents and is involved in more than 140 scientific projects with external research partners. The Group’s research and development activities are thus complemented by an international network of universities, public research institutions, and partner companies, which strengthens its own R&D. Clariant sponsors young scientists by awarding scholarships to worldrenowned universities, such as ETH Zurich.
The Project Center for Renewable Raw Materials coordinates all of Clariant’s international research and development activities in this area as well as appropriate external collaborations. Clariant is investing at least CHF 10 million in this interdisciplinary research program initially scheduled to last three years. Key objective is the replacement of petrochemical raw materials with renewable ones. At the Advanced Materials Project Center, new materials such as ceramic fibers and composites are developed.