June 9, 2016

 

BASF: Speeding up and focusing research activities

 

 

 

BASF is further speeding up and focusing its research and development activities, in order to maintain its successful track record, said Dr. Martin Brudermüller, vice chairman of the Board of Executive Directors and chief technology officer of BASF.

 

He made the comments during a Research Press Conference held recently in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

 

Even though BASF's research is already very successful with an output of about EUR10 billion (US$12 billion) sales from innovative products, the company needs to adapt its established approaches to changing conditions, Brudermüller added.

 

"Our R&D success factors are creativity, efficiency and integration. Fostering creativity and creating the conditions necessary to achieve it are among the company's most important tasks," he added. Creative and efficient work is also supported by integration, Brudermüller explained. "To do this, we need to intelligently combine the competencies of our global Research and Development Verbund while also taking advantage of our external networks."

 

Every R&D employee needs to demonstrate focus and discipline combined with flexibility and openness. "We gain speed by constantly challenging ourselves to flexibly react to changes and to tackle the right topics in a focused way," Brudermüller said.

 

Innovations based on chemistry require market-oriented research and development that focuses strongly on the needs of customers. In 2015, BASF's research pipeline encompassed around 3,000 projects and spending on research and development rose to EUR1,953 million (compared to EUR1,884 million in 2014).

 

The operating divisions were responsible for 79% of these R&D expenditures. The remaining 21% was allocated to cross-divisional corporate research focusing on long-term topics of strategic importance to the BASF Group. In order to bring promising ideas to market even faster, BASF regularly assesses its research projects using a multistep process and focuses its topics accordingly.

 

The foundation of BASF's innovation strength is its global team of highly qualified employees from various disciplines. In 2015, around 10,000 employees were working in Research and Development worldwide. The central research areas Process Research & Chemical Engineering, Advanced Materials & Systems Research and Bioscience Research serve as BASF's three global research platforms, headquartered in the company's main regions – Europe, Asia Pacific and North America.

 

Together with the development units of the divisions, they form the core of BASF's Know-How Verbund. With around 4,900 employees working in Research and Development, Ludwigshafen (including Limburgerhof) remains the largest site in BASF's Research Verbund. This was reinforced by the investment in a new research building which creates modern workspaces and ideal cooperation conditions for around 200 employees in the platform Advanced Materials & Systems Research.

 

At the Research Press Conference, BASF experts presented current projects from all of its three global research platforms, including Bioscience Research.

 
 

White biotechnology: thermostable enzyme for animal nutrition

 

For the research platform Bioscience Research, the focus was on a new, improved phytase (Natuphos®E) for animal nutrition developed by BASF researchers. Phytase is an enzyme that helps animals to better digest the phosphate contained in plants.

 

But many enzymes are heat-sensitive and can be destroyed by the high temperatures in the pelleting process used to make animal feed, thus rendering the enzymes ineffective.

 

To develop an effective, thermostable phytase, BASF researchers examined numerous different phytases that exist in bacteria and then developed the best possible hybrid from these using biotechnological methods. This was then further improved and an appropriate production strain based on the fungus Aspergillus niger was developed for the fermentation (biotechnological production) of the enzyme.

 

The new phytase has already been launched in some countries in Asia and South America as well as in the US.

 

Approval in Europe is expected in 2016.