Idea to Market

Idea to Market

1. Idea to Market

Translating unmet customer needs into market-ready solutions requires a strong focus on innovation and technology. With its extensive Research & Development resources and its commitment to breaking new ground beyond its core business, Clariant is well-equipped to tackle emerging trends and stay ahead of competition.

1.1. Addressing global trends and harnessing the potential of digitalization

Societal needs and the regulatory environment are evolving quickly, creating new challenges and opportunities for the chemical industry. Sustainability dominated the innovation agenda in 2018, fueled not only by stricter regulatory requirements but also consumers’ increasing ecological sensitivity, which has a particularly strong effect on Clariant’s consumer goods business.

The current trend toward a circular economy requires chemical companies to create products that are recyclable or support recycling objectives. Clariant has responded by helping brand owners increase recyclability of their products, especially relating to plastic waste. In addition, Clariant is evaluating how different raw material qualities impact the characteristics of products, and how production processes can be adapted to fluctuations in energy availability.

Generating, analyzing, and utilizing data, and then combining it with chemical know-how to generate added value, is critical in the digital age. Approaches such as High Throughput Experimentation (HTE) accelerate innovation, enabling Clariant to synthesize a vast variety of new molecules and test large numbers of formulations in parallel, thus discovering and delivering value-adding solutions to its customers at an unprecedented speed. By developing new data-driven business models, some of Clariant’s Business Units look into becoming fully integrated solution providers.

1.2. Providing a comprehensive toolbox to drive innovation

Clariant Innovation Excellence (CIX) supports the company’s profitable growth strategy by ensuring that innovation portfolios are stringently steered and projects are managed according to the Clariant Idea-to-Market process. This iterative process allows project teams to discover attractive business opportunities and translate global trends and unmet customer needs into compelling value propositions. By systematically scouting emerging trends and ideas, scoping out customer needs, evaluating sustainability opportunities, executing product development, and commercializing products with agility and speed, project teams are able to launch differentiated innovations and decrease time to market. To ensure the quality of new products and solutions, the stage-gate process scrutinizes innovation projects at each gate according to five dimensions of attractiveness and feasibility. This allows Clariant to drive innovations from ideation to business opportunity, and efficiently execute more than 375 innovation projects (Class 1 and Class 2) in 2018.

Innovation Project Classes
Class 1 projects have an estimated annual market value of CHF 10 million or more and are managed by 18 fully dedicated Innovation Black Belts. Class 2 and Class 3 projects are led by over 270 Innovation Green Belts or trained Class 3 project leaders.

1.3. Building on a strong innovation network

Clariant’s elaborate Research & Development network comprises eight Research & Development Centers, more than 50 technical centers, and over 1 100 employees. Research & Development activities are bundled in the department Group Technology and Innovation (GTI) and structured along four technology platforms: Chemistry & Materials, Biotechnology, Catalysis, and Process Technology. GTI collaborates closely with the to ensure that technology push and market pull go hand in hand. Figure 001


Clariant Innovation Chain (graphic)

This setup is complemented by New Business Development , which explores business opportunities beyond the current scope of Clariant’s Business Units with sustainability aspects being an essential driver, Group Engineering, which is responsible for management and execution of capital investment projects, and Group Intellectual Property Management, which secures the generated value through intellectual property protection.

In 2018, Clariant adjusted its innovation governance to enhance innovation management and further increase the innovation rate and profitability. As of January 2019, the newly established Innovation Committee, chaired by the Chief Technology Officer, will review and shape Clariant’s innovation strategy, maximizing the value and delivery of the innovation pipeline. Further, the Innovation Committee will play an active role in driving cross-business and open innovation, in securing public funding, and forging win-win collaborations with academia and industry peers to foster Clariant’s position as a leader in innovation. It will also steer innovation talent development programs to attract and develop talents and to foster expert as well as cross-functional and general management career paths.

»The Innovation Committee will create strong and collaborative ownership to deliver innovation across the organization. This will enable Clariant to leverage its technical and commercial capabilities to their full extent and create room for strategic innovation, resulting in breakthrough solutions and cross-business innovations.«

Martin Vollmer Chief Technology Officer and Head of Group Technology & Innovation

1.4. Fostering incremental and disruptive innovation through collaboration

Clariant has several initiatives to strengthen collaboration across functions and businesses, as well as with external partners. The Open Innovation initiative, managed by New Business Development, identifies collaboration partners ranging from large corporations to start-ups, universities, and other research institutions. In 2018, it launched the program »Chinese Innovation for China Market«, which encourages Clariant’s Business Units in China to explore technologies that help meet local market needs.

In 2018, Clariant also launched new formats to capitalize on the innovation potential within its workforce. For example, iEngine (Innovation Engine) crowdsources expertise across the firm to tackle key challenges within adjacent applications. Clariant also started the iGarage (Innovation Garage), a platform to develop strategic innovation opportunities at the discovery and early incubation stages by applying agile design thinking and lean start-up methodologies, yielding validated new business and technology concepts for identified, attractive opportunities. ,

The Lab Excellence (LabX) program was initiated in 2017 to increase the speed and impact of innovation. The goal of the initiative is to streamline workflows within and across laboratories to gain efficiency in order to transform the entire R&D system into a lean organization, increase the quality of the research, and reduce time to market. In 2019 and beyond, the identified measures from the first pilot projects will be rolled out within Clariant’s R&D community and the initiative will be expanded throughout the organization to strengthen the lean innovation culture and the consequent innovation performance management. Moreover, the implementation of an Electronic Lab Notebook across the company will significantly enhance efficiency by digitizing work flows.