Change

Using all available resources


To support these projects, we have introduced the scientific expertise of Expert Capability Groups (ECGs). These teams work with our businesses to help accelerate project delivery and enhance their impact. This partnership approach is enhanced by networks called Communities of Practice (CoPs). They bring together our leading experts, who contribute their knowledge from across the entire RD&I function – and elsewhere within AkzoNobel – to transfer best practices and utilize all our technical knowledge in order to deliver the highest level of product functionality to our customers.

Beyond using our internal resources to their best advantage, we also strive to look beyond AkzoNobel to help further explore and develop other opportunities. To encourage a more open approach, we have established a Networked Innovation Program in partnership with NineSigma. The program is based on a structured methodology for defining technology and know-how needs and then creating strategies for locating and acquiring solutions that may exist beyond our company boundaries. We expect the program to substantially enhance our rate of innovation by accelerating our access to new technologies.

Using all available resources for technology development

The Networked Innovation Program is complemented by a family of Communities of Practice (CoPs). Existing CoPs for bio-renewable materials, waterborne technologies and corrosion protection will soon be joined by new CoPs in process efficiency and low energy curing.

The bio-renewables CoP has already been instrumental in sharing latex technology based on bio-monomers. The technology, developed by Decorative Paints in partnership with two of our Expert Capability Groups (ECGs), is currently being explored by Functional Chemicals’ Elotex business as a possible building block for novel re-dispersible polymer powders used in dry mortar mixes.

Car Refinishes applied an open innovation approach for the development of its new StickerFix do-it-yourself (DIY) repair and protection solution. Working with a global leader in films and pressure sensitive technology, they have introduced a new approach to covering minor scratches on vehicles using AkzoNobel paint technology.

The output of innovation is protected by Intellectual Property rights. In many of our businesses, maintaining inventions as trade secrets is preferred to seeking patent protection. However, full patent protection is occasionally pursued. In doing so, we focus on quality rather than quantity. In 2009, patent protection was sought for 79 inventions, bringing the company’s patent portfolio close to 10,000 applied and granted patents.

Sustainability – always a key driver

A few years ago, we announced a company target of generating 30 percent of revenue from eco-premium solutions. We measure whether a product is eco-premium using quantitative or qualitative analyses focusing on six categories: toxicity, energy efficiency, use of natural resources/raw materials, emissions and waste, land use and risks (of accidents, for example). The eco-premium solution must be significantly better than currently available solutions in at least one criterion, and not significantly worse in any.

The 2009 assessment indicates that the proportion of eco-premium products in our portfolio increased to 20 percent of sales (2008: 18 percent). Businesses made progress identifying opportunity areas for eco-premium solutions and are building these into development programs as they draw up forward plans to achieve the 2015 target. This process will be further embedded in 2010.

As well as meeting our customer and market needs, our research is directed towards addressing societal and environmental aspirations, such as more sustainable housing and transportation. Eco-premium solutions help to create value for our business and for our customers. They provide top line growth opportunities because of their improved performance in areas such as raw material use, manufacturing processes and product innovation.

Sustainability as a key driver of innovation

Rediset WMX is a new asphalt binder developed by our Surface Chemistry business which not only improves the durability of road pavings, but also enables the transportation and laying of asphalt at lower temperatures. This results in significant energy savings and greatly reduced noxious fume generation.

Energy saving and a lower carbon footprint also apply to our Dulux Ecosure Matt Light & Space range of decorative paints, which won the UK Green Business Awards’ Green Product Award for 2009. The launch of our low carbon footprint Dulux Ecosure range in 2008, together with the energy saving potential of Dulux Light & Space’s Lumitec technology, means we have created unique products that deliver unparalleled consumer and environmental benefits. High Light Reflectance Value colors in the new range lead to significant energy cost savings of up to 22 percent on average, versus the use of more conventional paints. Lights can also be switched on up to 20 minutes later every day, all of which equates to turning off one in every five 60W filament bulbs.

Last year, our Packaging Coatings business introduced its Aquabase 353 washcoat to a major can customer in Europe. The coating – which is used to protect the exterior of two-piece steel food cans from corrosion – has a lower solvent content than the product it replaced. It can also be applied at much lower film weight to provide the required level of protection, resulting in lower VOC emissions and materials usage.

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