Innovation

Innovations based on effective and efficient research and development are an important growth engine for BASF. Our employees work in interdisciplinary teams on innovative processes and products for a sustainable future. This is how we ensure our long-term business success with chemistry-based solutions for almost all sectors of industry.

Around 10,700

employees worldwide in research and development

€1,884 million

spent on research and development

3,000

projects in the research pipeline

A growing need for energy, food and clean water, limited resources and a booming world population – reconciling all these factors is the greatest challenge of our time. Innovations based on chemistry play a key role here, as they contribute decisively to new solutions.

We have set ourselves ambitious goals: In 2015, we aim to achieve sales of around €10 billion and an EBITDA of around €2.5 billion with new and improved products or applications that will have been on the market for less than five years. In 2020, we want to increase our sales to around €30 billion and EBITDA to around €7 billion with innovations that will have been on the market for no longer than ten years.

Goals for sales and EBITDA with innovations (in billion €)
Goals for sales and EBITDA with innovations (bar chart)

1 Pertains to innovations then on the market for less than ten years.
2 Pertains to innovations then on the market for less than five years.

Our innovative strength is based on our global team of highly qualified employees with various specializations. In 2014, the number of employees involved in research and development rose to around 10,700 (2013: 10,650). The central research units Advanced Materials & Systems Research, Biological & Effect Systems Research, Process Research & Chemical Engineering, and BASF Plant Science are our knowledge and competence centers. Together with the development units in our operating divisions as well as BASF New Business and BASF Venture Capital, they form the core of our global Know-How Verbund.

Global network in science and industry

  • Network with more than 600 excellent universities, research institutes and companies
  • Network for Advanced Materials Open Research initiative established in Asia
  • Foundation of California Research Alliance by BASF

Our global network with more than 600 excellent universities, research institutes and companies is an important part of our Know-How Verbund. We work with them in many different disciplines in order to achieve our ambitious growth targets. In 2014, we established the “Network for Advanced Materials Open Research” initiative together with seven leading universities and research institutes in China, Japan and South Korea. Together, we aim to develop new materials for a wide range of applications. The initial focus is on products for the automotive, construction, detergent and cleaner industries, as well as the water and wind energy sector. In addition, we have founded the “California Research Alliance by BASF” together with major universities on the U.S. West Coast. This multidisciplinary research institute focuses on new inorganic materials and their applications, bioscience, and related technologies.

Strategic focus

  • Forward-looking project portfolio
  • Stronger customer and market orientation
  • Worldwide presence and expansion of research and development centers
  • Research competencies pooled into three global platforms

Our research pipeline comprised approximately 3,000 projects in 2014. We increased our spending on research and development by €35 million to €1,884 million (2013: €1,849 million); the operating divisions were responsible for 79% of total research and development expenditures. The remaining 21% was allocated to cross-divisional corporate research, such as research on the growth and technology fields.

Innovations based on chemistry require market-oriented research and development that is sharply focused on the needs of our customers. In order to bring promising research ideas even faster to market, we regularly assess our projects according to a multistep process. BASF New Business plays a central role in the search for new business areas. It identifies trends and future markets at an early stage, turning attractive topics into growth fields.

Another vital factor for our success is a global research and development presence. We continued to broaden our activities in 2014, especially in Asia. By expanding our Innovation Campus Asia Pacific, we are further boosting the regional research capacities for new materials and systems. We are also expanding business areas like formulations and chemical process engineering. In Mumbai, India, we opened a global research and development center that focuses on organic synthesis, process development, formulation and crop protection research, and molecular modeling. We will also work on innovations for the electronics industry at our new Electronic Materials Research and Development Center Asia Pacific in Suwon, South Korea, which was inaugurated in 2014.

We aim to keep strengthening our research and development activities in Asia as well as in North and South America. Starting January 2015, we are pooling our research expertise into three global platforms surrounding the topics of chemistry, materials and bioscience, each headquartered in a region significant for us: Europe, Asia Pacific and America. We plan to conduct half of our research and development activities outside of Europe by 2020. This increased presence outside Europe creates new opportunities for fortifying and expanding customer relations and scientific collaborations, strengthening our R&D Verbund and making BASF an even more attractive partner and employer in the regions.

The number and quality of our patents attest to our power of innovation and long-term competitiveness. We filed around 1,200 new patents worldwide in 2014. For the sixth time in succession, we headed the rankings in the Patent Asset Index in 2014 – a method which compares patent portfolios industry-wide. This once again underscores BASF’s power of innovation.