Trends in Innovation in the Chemical Industry
In mid-May, yet2 sponsored the NPD and Innovation in the Chemical Industry conference, organized by the European Networking Group. Nearly 100 leaders in the chemical industry gathered to learn and discuss key topics such as efficient innovation project management; ideation methods to boost innovative thinking; growth through partnerships – maximizing success by partnering with innovative startups; practical approaches and specific innovation trends in nanotechnology, CO2, food, and plastics; and more.
A conference highlight was a presentation by yet2 client, Janssen PMP. Geoffroy de Chabot-Tramecourt, director, R&D and Business Development, Janssen gave a stellar presentation, “Janssen PMP: An Evolution in Innovation Management.” de Chabot-Tramecourt explained to the audience how innovation has changed at Janssen over the years and how they handle the specific challenges of:
- Higher regulatory requirements
- A complex environment
- A new external environment
- Technical performance
- A conservative market
He detailed how the company decides where to place their innovation efforts and when closed vs open innovation models work best, using examples of innovation initiatives at Janssen. de Chabot-Tramecourt also shared how Janssen collaborated with yet2 for a focused, efficient, and comprehensive open innovation project.
yet2 Vice President, Bob Miller, and Lucy Davies, strategic account manager, both attended the conference. They also had the opportunity to sit in on a number of other sessions. Here are some of their observations:
- BASF Innovation Labs, which works on research and development for innovation in the chemical industry, is focused on connecting internal groups with its value chain, including end users. The organization supports these groups with training (“How yes, and is more effective than yes, but”) and organizing ideas into clusters for rapid refocus and rebound on new ideas if/as some fail.
- Evonik, a leading global specialty chemicals company, shared how they are augmenting collaboration with their customers (CPG companies) and distributors with direct engagement with consumers to gain information for their product innovation. They are using consumer insight to build their technology pipelines.
- Teijin is a technology-driven global company operating in the fields of advanced fibers, plastics & films, composites, healthcare, and IT business. Like Evonik, they too engage the end user during product development. They emphasize empowering their business units to invest in creating prototypes very quickly.
- SABIC, a global leader in diversified chemicals, shared its view that tackling the challenges of sustainability and the circular economy requires holistic approaches that can only be achieved through collaboration among companies throughout the supply chain.
- Startup INDRESMAT, incubated by Brightlands Innovation Factory, is organizing to enable large scale production of high-performance, sustainable polyurethanes for use in nearly-zero energy buildings. Currently living in the “valley of death,” that space between technical proof-of-concept and commercialization, the company urged large European chemical companies and investors to further build on making seed and venture capital investments in startups, in order to remain competitive with North America and Asia.
Overall, the NPD and Innovation in the Chemical Industry conference is a highly valuable experience, showcasing real-world experiences from leading practitioners in the industry.