Interview with David Blackwood, Vice President, Market and Customer Development, North America, at BASF
What are technology/solution areas that you have a primary interest in?
This year BASF is celebrating its 150 year anniversary and part of that celebration is to recognize our rich history in shaping the world we live in and beyond. We have shaped the world with products starting with synthetic indigo and fertilizer. We have also shaped the way companies have integrated research and engineering to turn lab-scale innovation into affordable, mass-produced products. In our anniversary year, we want to prepare the ground for the future. We will take the opportunity to leverage the ideas of BASF employees, customers, scientists and members of civil society to work on solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges in the area of food, urban living and energy. This part of the program is called Creator Space and consists of dozens of online and offline collaboration activities around the globe throughout 2015. I encourage you to visit our creator space online at www.creator-space.basf.com and learn more about current challenges and topics of our interest.
What level of commercial maturity do you typically look for in technology partnerships?
We are interested in diverse technology partnerships at various levels of commercial maturity, and this is further highlighted in our open innovation platform with the theme: Connect. Create. Commercialize. Our collaboration partners come from universities, research institutes, start-up companies, high-tech joint ventures and industry worldwide. Currently, we have over 600 active collaborations around the globe, and interact daily with many more. With some partners we work on scientific discovery projects. With others, we work on technology translation initiatives, and with some we focus on commercial scale-up or application development projects. We look for the right partnerships for the right reason at the right time.
Please describe your company’s Innovation model and how this model helps to find new innovations.
Our Research and Development organization at BASF is global, interdisciplinary and diverse as the chemistry itself, and traditionally, it has been the strongest pillar of our innovation. We continue to maintain very strong focus on science and technology development, but we also seek and encourage innovation beyond R&D. This includes: business model innovation, innovation with supplies and customers, external collaboration, manufacturing and process innovation etc.
Innovation at BASF is not a task of one organization or single corporate function. Drive Innovation is one of our eight global competencies, and everyone at BASF is expected to drive innovation in their line of responsibility and their job function. To stay relevant with current best practices and innovative in how we innovate, we have established various innovation communities of practice. These communities allow our practitioners to learn from each other, and grow together as a community of innovators.
Entering into its sixth year, BASF has created an internal innovation event called “inno>ent”, which brings together all disciplines to network, collaborate and focus on exploring challenging problems and finding new solutions. From customer panels to innovation challenge sessions, presentations and “shark tanks”, Inno>ent has become the premier innovation event at BASF North America.
Why work with TechConnect and the National Innovation Summit as a technology prospector? Who are you looking to meet with?
At BASF we pursue bold ideas in which partnerships play an important role. We believe that we are all stakeholders of our future. Sustainability of our society, our resources and our planet is everyone’s job. Open Innovation at BASF Corporation is a way of connecting and aligning our creativity together with stakeholders to make the world a better place to be for everyone.
What did you like most about the 2014 conferences?
the opportunity to meet stakeholders interested in collaborating and solving key industry problems through innovation and commercialization of solutions.
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