Evonik investing over €4 billion in R&D in next 10 years

Specialty chemicals producer and supplier of silica to the tyre industry, Evonik, intends to invest more than €4 billion in research and development over the coming decade. A three-point plan for investing in R&D was recently outlined by Evonik chief innovation officer Ulrich Küsthardt; “We must become more focused in our projects, more international in our research, and more open in our exchange of knowledge. The goal is to bring innovations to consumers with even greater speed and efficiency,” he stated.

“Our intention is to turn Evonik into one of the world’s most innovative companies,” affirmed Evonik Executive Board chairman Klaus Engel, at a R&D press conference on 26 March. “Innovations are a key element of our growth strategy.” Engel then commented on the planned more than €4 billion earmarked for R&D and referred to innovations as the ‘elixir of life’ for the specialty chemicals industry: “Innovations open up new business areas and strengthen our leading market and technology positions.” In the 2014 fiscal year, Evonik spent €413 million on research and development, five per cent more than the €394 million spent in 2013. The R&D investment ratio rose from 3.1 per cent to 3.2 per cent year-on-year.

Evonik believes innovations will “make key contributions to revenues and earnings in the future”, and therefore its aim is for “tangible improvements” in its innovative power. The company says its ‘R&D pipeline’ contains some 500 projects and will become even more full thanks to plans to significantly expand this so-called pipeline.

The connection between innovative power and proximity to customers is reflected in the breakdown of Evonik’s R&D spending. Some 80 per cent goes to activities within the operative businesses, which are specifically aligned with their respective core technologies and markets. Another ten per cent is used by the operative units to research and develop new business. The remaining ten per cent goes to the strategic research of Evonik’s innovation unit, Creavis, for establishing new high-tech activities outside of the existing Group portfolio.

The large number of first-time patent applications filed by Evonik places the company at the forefront of the specialty chemicals sector. The company held over 25,000 patents and patent applications in 2014. Some 250 new patents were filed last year—the equivalent of almost one invention per business day. With some 2,600 Evonik employees working in research at 35 sites, the company has continuously increased the value of its patent portfolio over the past years.

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