In 2010, BASF again intends to maintain its research budget at the previous years' high level, with an overall target of €1.38 billion. This was confirmed by Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, Member of the Board of Executive Directors and Research Executive Director, at the company's Research Press Conference today, January 28, 2010, in Ludwigshafen. For the previous year 2009, BASF's research allocations reached almost €1.4 billion, slightly above the level of the previous year 2008 (€1.35 billion).
"Only with a continuous flow of innovations can we consistently use competitive advantages to achieve above-market organic growth. Continuity of research strategy is important both in good times and also in times of crisis," said Kreimeyer explaining BASF's long-term commitment. The company's R&D strategy aims to enhance the existing portfolio, develop customer-specific system solutions and deliver solutions to the challenges of the future arising from global megatrends, he continued. The complex issues to be addressed include supplying a growing world population with water, food, energy or mobility. Reflecting these technology and chemistry-relevant global trends, BASF has defined five Growth Clusters for strategic corporate research: Plant Biotechnology, White (Industrial) Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Energy Management and Raw Material Change.
"The main drivers in achieving our ambitious research goals are our currently around 9,300 employees in Research and Development who are dedicated to transforming a pipeline brimming with about 3,300 projects into new business," emphasized Kreimeyer. It will also be necessary to respond to the paradigm shift currently underway in chemistry, whereby success will no longer be determined merely by new molecules but by new effects, new systems and system solutions, new components and functional materials. "We can only successfully tackle these complex problems through international and interdisciplinary cooperations," he explained.
Business and science cooperating for success
The importance of international knowledge networks in tackling the challenges of the future was demonstrated by presenting three of BASF's particularly successful research cooperations during the second part of the press conference. These were the Joint Innovation Lab at Ludwigshafen site which is pushing forward organic electronics, the research initiative at Harvard University in the USA devoted to preventing biofilms, and the Catalysis Research Laboratory (CaRLa) at Heidelberg University.
The joint laboratory of BASF and Heidelberg University has become a prime research location attracting catalysis researchers from around the world. Following a successful evaluation, the run time and funding of the Catalysis Research Laboratory, CaRLa for short, was extended by another five years at the beginning of the year by BASF, Heidelberg University and the State of Baden-Württemberg. At this center, corporate researchers and the university are jointly addressing basic and industrial research topics in the field of homogeneous catalysis.
Since its launch three years ago, CaRLa has become a groundbreaking pilot project for the networking of business and science. Under the motto "Industry on Campus", the laboratory gives the company additional impulses with new ideas from the academic environment of catalysis research. During the initial sponsorship period, the main emphasis was placed on projects for screening for new catalysts, including the development and improvement of catalysts for controlled hydrogenation of enones and for olefin metathesis. With the first joint patent applications and publications, the goals of accessing new raw materials and establishing even more efficient catalysts in production are coming closer to fulfillment.