Innovation is an important locomotive for growth at ALTANA and the driving force behind our work. Innovation opens up new spheres of activity and set new standards for the future. Behind every vision, however, is an individual who, by virtue of his or her research and endurance, has made progress attainable and raised it to a new level of quality.
A network of creative thinkers, researchers and entrepreneurs is an indispensable foundation for innovative thinking and groundbreaking research. Only people who communicate and share their knowledge with others are able to translate visions into practical applications. For only a concerted team effort involving both research and development can generate knowledge for the future. “Innovations are born in an outstanding network of people who think intensively about things, talk to each other, and then jointly develop new concepts,” says Dr. Georg Wiessmeier, Chief Technology Offi cer (CTO) at ALTANA, in his welcoming speech.
“Overcoming boundaries while encouraging curiosity and creativity”
At the fi rst ALTANA Innovation Conference, held in November 2008, we fi red the starting shot for a continuous and personal exchange. For two days, colleagues working in R&D in many countries in which ALTANA is represented met in Duisburg’s Mercatorhall for some intensive work and dialogue. The conference program provided diverse opportunities for sharing knowledge about technical and economic trends and developments. In the process the participants had a chance to look beyond the horizons of the specialty chemicals business. In his talk on “The Miracle of Innovation,” Prof. Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of the Fraunhofer Institute, granted interesting glimpses into the history of innovation before turning to the challenge of achieving successful innovations today — a process which he believes “always involves overcoming boundaries and requires insatiable curiosity and creativity.”
The conference attendees were given a detailed presentation on the possibilities opened up by ongoing polymer research and the development of additives in the lecture by Prof. Rolf Mülhaupt, who teaches and conducts research at the Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry of the University of Freiburg.
In their own presentations, the BYK, ECKART, ELANTAS and ACTEGA divisions emphasized the innovative power available in their areas of specialization and provided the fi rst insights into future developments. Next to polymer electronics and new functional surfaces, nanotechnology and industrial biotechnology were the focal points of the subsequent exchange.
The ALTANA Innovation Council, the host of the conference, opened up the general discussion and Q&A session. During this session the participants were g-ranted valuable insights into the potentials for synergy and networking in the ALTANA Group.
Innovation: the driving force
In his introductory address, Dr. Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG, emphasized that innovation was the driving force at ALTANA. By making large investments in research and development, he said, the company had achieved a technological advantage which served as a master key to further growth. He added: “We have brought the company into a good position as an innovation leader.
At the eight workshops on R&D topics of current interest, and during a “Walk and Talk” through the extensive poster exhibit, the conference attendees had a chance to see for themselves how knowledge can be combined professionally with personal exchange. The exhibit underscored the immense innovative power of current research. On more than 40 posters scientists presented the present state of research and the first attempts to elaborate forward-looking visions for new products.
Without a doubt, the fi rst Innovation Conference derived its unique character from the intense social “networking” with colleagues from all parts of the world at this global meeting. In the same spirit, the conference organizers topped off the event with a guided tour of the Zollverein Mine world heritage site in Essen and an evening program.
In the future the ALTANA Innovation Conference will be an annual event bringing together the scientists working for the Group. One of the high points of next year‘s conference, to be held on November 11 and 12, 2009 at the ALTANA Headquarters in Wesel, will be the presentation of the first ALTANA Innovation Award for the most innovative application within the Group. The invitation to participate in the contest, which was extended to innovators in the ALTANA Group worldwide, holds out the promise of an exciting competition. The winners will be selected by the ALTANA Innovation Council. In the future the Innovation Award trophy will grace the foyer of ALTANA Headquarters as a symbol of our innovative power. Our understanding of innovation, as well as the various bodies and fundamental principles of the sector of Corporate Innovation, can also be found on the recently redesigned ALTANA innovation website.
Without a doubt the ALTANA Innovation Conference 2008 was a successful kick-off for the global networking of our innovators. This kind of networking will enable them to share their experience and results to a greater extent across national and laboratory boundaries in the future. For this reason, we are already looking forward to the second ALTANA Innovation Conference, which will be held this November. The Conference will again have the slogan “Our knowledge makes the difference” and be dedicated to the pioneering spirit at ALTANA.