02/07/2007, Düsseldorf / Germany


Innovations shape markets

25 years of the Fritz Henkel Award for Innovation

488 award-winners, 108 projects honored – the proud total of 25 years of the Fritz Henkel Award for Innovation. Every year since 1982, outstanding products and processes designed by Henkel employees have won this coveted award in recognition of their verifiable market success and convincingly innovative character.

It always starts with a good idea. Company founder Fritz Henkel revolutionized the washday habits of his time with his innovations, first with Henkel’s Bleaching Soda in 1878, then, 29 years later, with Persil, the world’s first self-acting laundry detergent, which he and his sons, Fritz Henkel Jr. and Dr. Hugo Henkel, launched on the market in 1907. These innovations and many more made Henkel a brand pioneer in Germany – and were key to the success of the Company.

To foster this culture of innovation, Henkel instituted an award named after the Company founder in 1982 to honor convincing research results and innovations that have led to verifiable market successes. In conferring this award, the Management Board and the Shareholders wish to express their thanks publicly to employees whose innovative achievements have contributed to Henkel’s success, and to simultaneously inspire all employees to emulate these efforts.

At the first awards ceremony in December 1982, the Company founder’s grandson, Dr. Konrad Henkel, then Chairman of the Supervisory Board and the Shareholders’ Committee, explained: “My grandfather had many groundbreaking ideas that went far beyond simply packing chemical products in handy pre-portioned packs. This innovative idea, the foundation stone of our Company, was followed by many more, and we can be proud of the fact that creativity and innovation potential still abound in the Henkel company today.”

The Fritz Henkel Award for Innovation enjoys exceptionally high regard at Henkel. The awards ceremony is therefore attended not only by the members of the Management Board but always by representatives of the Henkel family. Albrecht Woeste, Chairman of the Supervisory Board and the Shareholders’ Committee since 1990, has made a point of congratulating the winners personally. Every year, he moderates the ceremony and joins the Chairman of the Management Board, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Lehner since 2000, in presenting the certificates to the winners.

The first winners in 1982 were the developers of the toothpaste Thera-med, a new continuous process for producing fatty acid methyl esters, and a computer-controlled information, scheduling and processing system for purchasing. A quarter of a century has passed since then – and every year designated employees have stepped up to receive the award on behalf of their interdisciplinary teams. Whether they were more powerful products or more efficient and environmentally compatible processes, the 108 innovations that have been honored to date have all helped to make people’s lives easier, better and more beautiful.

Among the milestones of product development honored are the Poly Style permanent waving mousse in 1983, Persil Megaperls in 1995, the Pritt correction roller in 2000, the Nanit®active toothpaste ingredient for sensitive teeth in 2002, and Bonderite NT, a nanoceramic coating process for the metal industry, in 2004. Also recognized were computer-aided and chemical processes, technological systems and improved processes, such as the Herenox method for reducing nitrogen oxide emissions in 1985 and a new machine technology for modern laundry detergent packaging in 1990.

The Fritz Henkel Award for Innovation underscores just how important innovations are for a forward-looking and globally operating company. In addition, it highlights the products and technologies that will carry the Company into the future. This significance is reflected in the rate of innovation. The Laundry & Home Care and Cosmetics/Toiletries business sectors generate 30 to 35 percent of their sales with products launched in the past five years. In the Consumer and Craftsmen Adhesives and Henkel Technologies business sectors the rate is currently 15 to 20 percent.