01/31/2006, Düsseldorf

 

Hunting for the bestsellers of the future

At this very moment, many scientists are working all around the world on 1500 future-oriented projects for Henkel, with objectives ranging from the improvement of existing branded products to the realization of complex new developments. Worldwide, more than 7000 patents and about 2000 registered designs protect the results of Henkel's R&D work. Even now, innovations are already safeguarding Henkel's technology leadership.

"Innovations are of immense importance to Henkel, because they are the basis of our future business success. It is therefore essential that we look beyond our own horizons and engage in an exchange of knowledge with internal and external partners," says Dr. Wolfgang Gawrisch, Chief Technology Officer Research/Technology of Henkel KGaA. In 2004 alone, the Düsseldorf-based Group invested 272 million euros into researching and developing new products.

Cooperation with universities and industry
Alongside continuous investment in its own research and development departments, staffed by highly qualified personnel, Henkel has always believed in cooperation with external partners. The Company has a long-established, close-meshed research network, which covers a broad research spectrum, beginning with innovative basic technologies. Worldwide, Henkel currently employs 2700 researchers, product developers and application engineers.. Henkel experts cooperate closely with more than 250 partners in universities and industry in many places across the globe. The interdisciplinary knowledge network is geared to identifying trends at an early stage and utilizing new business potential. The Company has even established research companies in cooperation with a number of specialized universities. Professors, universities and Henkel participate in these public-private
partnerships, which rapidly translate basic research into new products.

"When we started setting up our research companies 6 years ago, we were one of the first companies in Germany to opt for this new way of fostering innovations," reports Gawrisch.

Toothpaste repairs sensitive teeth
The first product to come from this innovative form of cooperation has been available since the fall of 2005. It is Theramed S.O.S. Sensitive, the first toothpaste with Nanit(r)active, a new type of ingredient which helps to protect sensitive teeth. This active substance combines with the calcium and phosphate ions in saliva to seal the dentinal tubules through which stimuli such as hot and cold or sweet and sour are transmitted directly to the nerve at the heart of the tooth. This near-natural protective coating bonds firmly to the natural material of the tooth. The revolutionary active substance was developed in exemplary teamwork between Henkel, university researchers and SusTech Darmstadt, a research company set up by Henkel, a number of university professors and the Technical University of Darmstadt. The young company was awarded the Innovation Prize of the German State of Hesse for its outstanding work.

Worldwide competence centers for the key fields of the future
Phenion, another Henkel research company, is developing in-vitro test systems as alternatives to animal testing.

Henkel Kindai Laboratories in Iizuka, Japan, was expanded to be a competence center for polymer research. And in neighboring China, teams from 5 universities are jointly researching new silicone-based adhesives and sealants for Henkel's Technologies business.

"All of this knowledge networking fuels our innovation competence at Henkel," emphasizes Gawrisch.

Lighter aircraft and roofs off the roll
Henkel is in the vanguard, and not just in terms of its cooperation with universities. Close cooperation with other companies is also one of its strengths. For example, Henkel worked together with Airbus to develop highly robust new fiber composites that satisfy the toughest demands and therefore make possible the construction of lighter aircraft. Henkel is already one of the technology partners for the high-capacity A380 Airbus, supplying structural
adhesives with extreme performance profiles.

Another practical example: The US company Solar Integrated Technologies (SIT) has impressed the experts with its solar roof off the roll. The solar cells can be laid on flat roofs just as easily as conventional waterproof roofing membranes. Henkel used special adhesives to bond the solar modules to the membranes, seal the modules, and encapsulate the electrical connections. Development work on the adhesives, application tests and certification were carried out in the USA and Germany - by an interdisciplinary team whose members were drawn from both companies.

More than 300 applications for families of patents for inventions and 50 applications for registered designs in 2005 alone underscore how successfully Henkel carries out brand- and technology-oriented research, both in-house and through its network. "Innovative products are the key to Henkel's future success," declares Gawrisch.