Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Open innovation at P&G

The chemical industry is gradually getting to grips with open innovation (OI) - as this article from the UK's Royal Society for Chemistry by Sean Milmo, also a regular writer for ICIS, sets out.

DSM is a leading exponent, even boasting a vice president for open innovation in the form of Rob Kirschbaum, a long-standing friend of ICIS. You can see more of its commitment to open innovation in a detailed and informative presentation by Rob van Leen, the company's chief innovation officer.

P&G, it seems, has been using OI for many years, and has not so long ago (10 years) formalised the approach as Connect + Develop, as outlined in this interesting blog on Forbes by Deborah Mills Schofield.

She argues that "P&G has created more value together with their OI partners than they ever could have alone. It is a real ecosystem that creates value on a global scale to accomplish P&G’s mission: '…improve the lives of the world’s consumers, now and for generations to come'.”

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

IYC art exhibition at SusChem Amsterdam meeting

ICIS is looking forward to its collaboration as media partner with SusChem, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry. Two editors will attend the upcoming SusChem annual stakeholder day event in Amsterdam on 17 May.

Participants at the meeting will have the opportunity to take an exclusive preview of an international art exhibition. During the lunch interval the exhibition “Our Children on Water” will take place. Created by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) as a contribution to the International Year of Chemistry (IYC) this unique international art exhibition consists of artwork created by children from three African and six European countries depicting the role that water plays in their lives.

The three African countries involved are South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia and the photo above (Copyright Zoe Heaton) shows children from Abyot Public School in Ethiopia getting involved. The artwork has been produced under the title 'Water: Refreshment or Responsibility?' The resulting collection of artwork displays breathtaking imagination and shows children's views on water from many different, thought-provoking perspectives. The artwork in addition helps to draw attention to the role of chemists in industry and academia in providing safe and clean water around the world.

European tour
The exhibition will take place in Beurs Van Berlage in Amsterdam on 17 May. Following exhibition at the SusChem Amsterdam event "Children on Water" will tour major European cities including London, Frankfurt, Prague, Rome and Barcelona throughout 2011 in collaboration with a number of European and African chemical societies.

The official launch for the exhibition will be held at the European Parliament in Brussels in June. The "Our Children on Water" project is a high profile exhibition that serves to showcase the chemical community’s involvement in the pursuit of clean and safe water for everyone.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

DSM/AkzoNobel boost innovation push

My colleague Will Beacham on ICIS Chemical Business has just published this interesting piece on the changing pace of innovation in the chemicals sector, with interviews with leading executives at DSM and AkzoNobel as well as consultants at Accenture. Well worth a look.

Accenture's Stephan Scholtissek argues that "CEOs should recognize that the core of the company is no longer the existing businesses, but the innovations. Innovators are today seen as the troublemakers; nobody wants them. Everything is laid on for the standard business to ensure it is working properly. All the effort goes into this. The most powerful board members are all working on the day-to-day business."

In the article, DSM's chief innovation officer, Rob van Leen, says: "Five years ago, we launched our strategy making innovation more center stage in our corporate strategy, to make it more market-driven and to increase the speed of innovation. Now we want to take this to the next level in line with our four strategic pillars: high-growth economies, innovation, sustainability, and partnerships and acquisitions."

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Strategies for R&D in emerging economies

ICIS has run several roundtables recently where innovation has risen as a topic, particularly the growing move by chemical majors to carry out innovation in places like China and the difficulties encountered. Now consultancy McKinsey has carried out an industry survey to assess the current situation.

It finds that many companies have not even addressed the issue of doing research and development in emerging economies like China, India and Brazil, even though these are the markets with vibrant growth prospects and the need for localised innovation in products that meet market demands.

McKinsey found that "fully one-third of executives around the world say their companies are not doing any R&D work in emerging economies." However, the good news is that companies that are active are addressing local needs, and not just attempting to shift innovation for developed markets to low cost regions.

Says McKinsey: "Of the two-thirds of respondents whose companies pursue such efforts, the largest shares say their R&D is focused on either global product platforms or local innovation in emerging economies, as opposed to R&D for developed markets only, which respondents say is not a major focus of emerging-market R&D operations. Moreover, companies appear to be aligning their goals, whether it’s seeking lower development costs or gaining better access to customer insights, with their specific R&D focus in emerging economies."

You can read the full report here.

Monday, 18 April 2011

ICIS launches eighth Innovation Awards

At last - after weeks of preparation I can officially launch the ICIS Innovation Awards 2011. This annual competition, now in its eighth year, recognises outstanding technological and business innovation in the chemical industry.

Dow Corning is the overall lead sponsor for the Awards, as it has been from their inception in 2004. CRA returns as the sponsor of the Best Product Innovation category, and U.S Chemicals is again sponsor of the Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit category.

Joining the sponsors this year is global health, nutrition and materials major DSM, which is supporting the new category of Best Innovation for Sustainability.

The Innovation Awards continue to grow and gain industry support. We have added a new sponsor and new category this year and look forward to being able to highlight the very best of innovation in the industry later in the year.

There is tremendous effort and investment going into innovation in the chemical sector today, as companies seek answers to many of society’s global problems.

The Awards are open to entry from today, with a deadline for entries of 4 July 2011. The winners will be announced on 17 October.

For more information or to enter the awards, visit