Evonik is deliberately opening up to external partners and cooperating with scientists and start-ups ("Open Innovation"), an effort Küsthardt plans to intensify further. This also includes corporate venture capital activities, for which a budget of some €100 million has been set aside. Such investments and shareholdings give Evonik insights into innovative technologies and businesses in the early development phases. The company's latest acquisition is Nanocomp, a Finnish company that develops nano-optical structures for applications in 3D gesture recognition, medical technology, and displays.
Evonik's innovation strategy is guided by the needs of a growing population - nutrition, health, access to new technologies, and conservative use of existing resources. Resource efficiency and climate protection are the basis for numerous energy-efficient and environmentally sound products made by Evonik. The specialty chemicals company has multiple solutions on hand for environmentally friendly and resource-efficient mobility. The silica/silane system for "green tires" helps to reduce fuel consumption by up to 8 percent compared to conventional products while innovative additives for high-performance lubricants help to lower it by up to 4 percent. Furthermore, Evonik products for lightweight design such as composite materials hold the promise of further fuel savings.
The close connection between innovative power and proximity to customers is reflected in the breakdown of R&D spending. Some 80 percent goes to activities within the operative businesses, which are specifically aligned with their respective core technologies and markets. Another ten percent is used by the operative units to research and develop new business. The remaining ten percent goes to the strategic research of Evonik's innovation unit, Creavis, for establishing new high-tech activities outside of the existing Group portfolio.
The large number of first-time patent applications filed by Evonik places the company at the forefront of the specialty chemicals sector. The company held over 25,000 patents and patent applications in 2014. Some 250 new patents were filed last year—the equivalent of almost one invention per business day. With some 2,600 Evonik employees working in research at 35 sites, the company has continuously increased the value of its patent portfolio over the past years.
Evonik to invest over €4 billion in research and development