We regard ourselves as an international company in the truest sense. Hence we carry out research and development in our markets throughout the world - in short, as close to our customers as possible.
Major components of our corporate strategy are a high degree of innovation, the development of individual customer solutions, as well as a consistent customer and service orientation. Research and development is especially important for ALTANA. Our high research and development expenses help ensure us an innovative edge. Our R&D expenditure in 2011 comprised 5 - 6 % of sales, which makes it above industry-wide on average.
At the end of the 2011 business year, 750 ALTANA employees worked in research and development, around 16 % of our workforce. The area achieves outstanding results. In the year under review, ALTANA was able to register 27 new patent families.
We primarily carry out our research and development projects with our own staff. Our research and development activities are currently focusing predominantly on the continual further development of technologies and products for existing markets.
Another important activity for us is the development of products for new or emerging markets while expanding our core competencies. Basic research is less important. For us, technological development means utilizing knowledge about new technologies, for example nanotechnology.
Product development encompasses the development of new marketable products. Product improvements cover all efforts to optimize existing products. We work on optimizing products and manufacturing processes, normally in close collaboration with our customers. We also work together closely with universities, research institutes, and suppliers. As a result, we gain access to the latest technologies at any time. Furthermore, we acquire know-how, among other things, in conjunction with acquisitions. Other important focuses of our research and development activities are the utilization of existing technologies in new application areas and the use of new technologies with proven products. In the research and development process, applications technology is the link between developer and customer. In our application technology laboratories, tests can be carried out under practical conditions. This gives us decisive competitive advantages over the competition, as our service orientation stands for the individuality of our customer solutions and leads to high customer loyalty.
Due to the great importance of the application technology laboratories for our company’s success, we have built up a worldwide network of 47 laboratory sites which we continually develop further. Another important task of our research and development activities is to continually improve our products. This gives rise to both high customer satisfaction and cost savings. In order to achieve improved coordination of Groupwide and comprehensive research and development projects and to realize synergies across divisions, personnel resources in this area were strengthened in the four divisions of ALTANA and at the Group level, and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) positions were established.