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Innovation

Meeting challenges, developing new business areas

  • Approximately 10,500 research and development employees worldwide
  • Research pipeline with around 3,000 projects
  • €1,746 million in research and development expenses in 2012

Effective and efficient research and development are the foundations for innovations for a sustainable future. Our employees work in interdisciplinary teams to find solutions for almost all industry sectors. With innovative processes and products based on intelligent chemistry, we secure BASF’s organic and profitable long-term growth.

Providing the growing world population with a sustainable supply of food, clean water and energy is one of the most urgent challenges of our time. Limited resources require innovations beyond existing solutions – here, chemistry adopts a key role.

Our innovative strength rests on our global team of highly qualified employees with various specializations. In 2012, the number of employees involved in research and development rose to around 10,500 (2011: 10,100).

Our knowledge and competence centers are the central research areas Advanced Materials & Systems Research, Biological & Effect Systems Research, Process Research & Chemical Engineering as well as BASF Plant Science. Together with the development units in our operating divisions, the research facilities in key regions, BASF New Business (formerly BASF Future Business) and BASF Venture Capital, they form the core of our global Know-How Verbund.

Strategic focus

  • Stronger focus on customer and market needs
  • Future-oriented product portfolio
  • Worldwide expansion of research and development centers, especially in Asia and North America
  • More efficient innovation management

We have expanded our research and development activities as part of the “We create chemistry” strategy. Innovations based on chemistry require market-focused research and development that is aligned more closely than ever with the needs of our customers. We take account of this development with the optimization of our innovation management and organizational structures, a future-oriented project portfolio and the worldwide expansion of our research activities. We have oriented our research areas even better toward the operating units. Furthermore, we have equipped BASF New Business, which focuses primarily on identifying and tapping new business areas, with more authority and operational responsibility.

Worldwide expansion of research and development

  • Innovation Campus Asia Pacific in Shanghai, China: developing innovations for industries such as construction, cosmetics and shoes
  • Two new research laboratories for white biotechnology and microbiology, as well as for thermoplastic polyurethanes, open in United States
  • Research and development in plant biotechnology concentrated in Raleigh, North Carolina

We continued to expand our research and development presence in Asia and North America in 2012. In Shanghai, China, we opened the Innovation Campus Asia Pacific, where we are mainly working on innovations for the construction, cosmetics and shoe industries. In a new research laboratory for white biotechnology and microbiology in Tarrytown, New York, we develop efficient biotechnological production processes and work on antimicrobial products for the medical technology, hygiene and health sectors. At a research laboratory for thermoplastic polyurethanes in Wyandotte, Michigan, we will explore new products for the American automotive, construction, sport and leisure industries, for example. In moving BASF Plant Science’s headquarters to the United States, we will concentrate our future plant biotechnology research and development in Raleigh, North Carolina. We also operate important research sites for this business area in Ghent, Belgium, and in Berlin, Germany.

Global network in science and industry

  • Network with around 600 excellent universities, research institutes and companies
  • Research laboratory for innovative carbon-based materials founded together with Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

Our global network with more than 600 excellent universities, research institutes and companies is also an important part of our Know-How Verbund. We cooperate with them in many different disciplines in order to achieve our ambitious growth goals. In 2012, we opened the first joint research laboratory with a scientific partner at a BASF site. At the Carbon Materials Innovation Center in Ludwigshafen, a team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and BASF is exploring innovative carbon-based materials. Graphene, for example – a modification of the element carbon – has unique properties: It is an excellent conductor for electricity and heat, is extremely chemically stable, ultralight, and very hard. Graphene is therefore attractive for many technological applications in the energy and electronics industries, such as solar cells and touch screens.

Our research pipeline included approximately 3,000 projects in 2012. We increased our spending on research and development by €141 million to €1,746 million (2011: €1,605 million). The operating divisions were responsible for 78% of total research and development expenditures. Another 22% was allocated to cross-divisional, strategic corporate research. Around one third of our research and development expenditure is principally invested in projects for increased energy efficiency and climate protection.

The number and quality of our patents attest to our power of innovation and long-term competitiveness. We registered around 1,170 new patents worldwide in 2012. We were once again a leader in the Patent Asset Index, a method which compares patent portfolios industry-wide. This shows BASF to be the most innovative company in the chemical industry worldwide.