Corporate Spotlight Interview: BASF - The Chemical Company

January 24, 2013 02:03 PM EST By: Jennifer Rocha

Dr. Jens Rieger, Senior Vice President, Advanced Materials and Systems Research-Technology Incubation, BASF SE and Dr. Svetlana Dimovski, Manager, Open Innovation and Science Relations, BASF North America speak to TechConnect News about BASF's technology and investment areas of interest
Rieger Dimovski

Dr. Rieger: What technology/solution areas do you have a primary interest in?

In general, my colleagues and I are always looking for sustainable solutions which make a difference to global challenges. During the past decade we have been witnessing a fascinating trend in the chemical industry. We are no longer just making molecules but thanks to new technologies are able to create system solutions, e.g. based on advanced polymeric materials, to help our customers. Take for example nanoformulations – the BASF Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard University has developed new approaches to control the release of biologically active substances – and this does make a difference in terms of quality of life and health!

Dr. Rieger:  Could you provide an example of a successful innovation partnership BASF formed with either a university or start up company?  What made the partnership work?  What were some of the outcomes from the collaboration?

Frankly, BASF’s global scientific network is bound to excite every researcher. We are working with partners from universities, research institutes, start-up companies, high-tech joint ventures and industry worldwide. For example, in the field of electro-mobility, over the past years we have built up an international network with leading researchers and together with Volkswagen have initiated a science award in electrochemistry to identify and support young and promising scientists. This is only possible with long-term commitment, mutual respect and thanks to our broad competency in various disciplines. By the way, one outcome of our collaborations was a car: for the smart forvision BASF had teamed up with Daimler to develop a forward-looking electric vehicle concept that brings design, lifestyle and technology together and offers an exciting look at the future of electric mobility. With its technologies relating to: lightweight design, temperature management, energy efficiency it was a huge success in 2011 at the International Automobile Exhibition in Frankfurt.

Dr. Dimovski:  How does BASF encourage innovation?

Our Research and Development network at BASF is global, interdisciplinary, collaborative, and as diverse as the chemistry itself, but we also strongly encourage innovation beyond R&D. This includes: business model innovation, innovation with suppliers and customers, external collaboration, manufacturing innovation etc. Often, it is thought that the great innovation starts with a great idea. The full circle of innovation actually starts with problem finding, and it is very important to put the right amount of effort in understanding and defining the problems. Innovation is much more than just an idea or a solution finding: it’s customer insight, market foresight, design thinking, creative problem solving, and excellence in execution all coming together in a final product that delights our customers and keeps their loyalty.

Breakthroughs happen at the interfaces. We have implemented a number of programs that stimulate and nourish innovation throughout our company, from dedicated teams and internal innovation events to online collaboration platforms.  Externally, we encourage innovation through collaborative activities with universities, industry and research institutes with activities like technology scouting networks, open innovation and customer innovation workshops (e.g. Connecting the Dots ®).

Dr. Dimovski:  BASF returns to TechConnect World in 2013 as a Corporate Accelerator Partner.  What will you be looking for in D.C. next year?  Who will you and your team be looking to meet with onsite?

As a global technology outreach & development organization the TechConnect World is an excellent opportunity to meet the world class innovators and companies across the US as well as many other parts of the world, and learn more about their work and interests.

In BASF we create chemistry for a sustainable future; therefore we will be looking for sustainable innovations that address the biggest problems and long-term challenges related to resources, environment and climate, food and nutrition, and quality of life. As a chemical and materials science company together with our innovation partners we provide solutions for the Transportation, Construction, Consumer Goods, Health & Nutrition, Electronics, Agriculture and Energy & Resources industries. Technical areas of interest include: materials for energy storage and management, lightweight composites, heat management, white biotechnology, materials for medical applications, organic electronics, plant biotechnology, functional crop care, extraction and recycling technologies, wind energy, water solutions and others.

Sustainability of our society, our resources and our planet, to a certain extent, is everyone’s job. External collaboration in this context is a way of connecting and aligning our creative minds. We will be looking forward to meet innovators, academics, federal labs, research institutes, startups, small and medium size companies and established businesses that value partnerships and would like to play an active role with us to ensure a sustainable future for everyone.

For individual innovators, startups, small and medium size companies, partnering with a large company is a great way to accelerate commercialization of their inventions and tap into vast market knowledge, scale-up capabilities and already developed customer base. For large companies, external collaboration offers an opportunity to bring high quality ideas and concepts to life faster, shorten the product development cycle and offer fresh solutions to customers and consumers. Please visit our global research and North America innovation pages to learn more about collaboration with BASF.

Dr. Dimovski:  What are some of the reasons BASF supports TechConnect World?

In the past, BASF regularly participated in TechConnect World events as a contributor to technical talks, and in investor panel discussions. Those who attended recent TechConnect events have had an opportunity to hear more about BASF Venture Capital from Dr. Pulakesh Mukherjee, Principal. In 2012, BASF Corporation decided to broaden our involvement and explore the Innovation Partnering Program, so we attended as a Technology Acceleration Partner. The overall experience was overwhelmingly positive and this year we are returning as a Platinum Corporate Accelerator Partner.

We are thrilled that the TechConnect World 2013 will be held in conjunction with the National Innovation Summit and Showcase and the National SBIR Conference. We see it as an opportunity to meet all key innovation players and stakeholders all in one place—at a premier innovation commercialization and networking event in the US this year. We commend the visionary thinking of the conference production team and this is why we continue to support TechConnect World.


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