Every innovation starts with an extraordinary idea. But an idea is only the first step. A leap forward in innovation requires more. It takes an idea that excites – the market, consumers, or our customers. The key to sustainable growth and prosperity are innovative products and technologies that address challenges, bring about change and achieve visions. For Henkel, the development of such products and technologies has always been one of the central challenges and at the same time a key competitive factor.
InnovationUnderstanding change, shaping the future
Making history from the very beginning
Company founder and pioneer: Fritz Henkel laid the foundation for the company's success with ever new ideas for innovative products, as well as entrepreneurial thinking and action. In its long history, Henkel has launched many pioneering inventions.
Anyone who successfully manages brands over generations needs the right balance of tradition and innovation. This is also reflected in Henkel's corporate purpose: “Pioneers at heart for the good of generations”. It expresses the fact that we want to enrich and improve the lives of millions of people around the world every day with our pioneering spirit, our knowledge, our products, and technologies. Because without innovations there can be no progress. This applies both to the fast-moving consumer goods business, where it is essential to pick up on trends quickly and keep an ear to the ground for consumer needs, and to the B2B business, where we work together with customers in over 800 manufacturing industries on innovative solutions and technologies for tomorrow.
We do not want to rest, because a rolling stone gathers no moss. On the contrary: we want to do everything to further expand our company, both internally and externally.
Company founder Fritz Henkel, 1916
The freedom to innovate
What does a company need to be innovative? Many things – but freedom, openness and diversity are essential. Innovative strength and the successful implementation of good ideas always depend on people and their environment. A company's innovative spirit is thus a question of culture. One of the best ways for companies to increase their innovative strength is to foster the creativity of their employees – for example, through training in methods such as design thinking, which serve to generate ideas.
At Henkel, everyone feels responsible for innovation. Many participate directly via a digital platform. Employees worldwide can submit their ideas and impressions. The submissions include not only new ideas, but also suggestions from teams who decide together which processes can be reduced or even eliminated. By trimming away some of these redundant and even obstructive rules, it opens more room for individuals to be creative.
Without people there would be no innovations, as ideas arise in interaction with one another. Ways of working are changing fundamentally now, making it easier to collaborate with colleagues around the world. For Henkel, it is important to draw on as many different impulses as possible – also from outside. We work in many areas with partners, start-ups, suppliers, customers, universities, and research institutions. Opening up and conducting joint, collaborative research on the challenges of the future is crucial. In this way, we ensure our future viability, meaning the ability to respond proactively to a constantly changing world.
Innovation does not happen in a vacuum
To accelerate innovations, Henkel relies on innovation hubs as innovation centers. One example is the Adhesive Technologies Inspiration Center in Düsseldorf. At this development center for adhesives, sealants, and functional coatings, more than 650 colleagues work directly with our customers from different industries.
The Inspiration Center reflects our vision of the future at Adhesive Technologies. It is an inspirational place to collaborate, innovate and find groundbreaking solutions to key challenges.
Michael Todd, Vice President Innovation & New Business Development for Adhesive Technologies
As a global market leader, Adhesive Technologies develops high-impact solutions through groundbreaking innovations across a wide range of industries. Whether in automotive engineering, construction, electronics, medical technology or the food industry, Henkel Adhesive Technologies' solutions and technologies are encountered everywhere. The same applies to the products and brands of our other business unit: Henkel Consumer Brands. This business unit combines the consumer business under one roof. With an optimized portfolio, such iconic brands as Persil and Schwarzkopf, and strong technologies, we operate a multicategory platform focused on the core categories of laundry & home care and hair. The platform offers a broader foundation and attractive opportunities to further develop the Henkel portfolio. Sustainability and digitalization are also two of the key drivers of innovation here.
With innovative and sustainable products and technologies, we help to reimagine and improve life – today and for generations to come. To create such a viable future our teams worldwide are working on tomorrow’s solutions today:
Externally, Henkel also invests in building symbiotic relationships with start-ups and supports them in their development. Small companies can often test new ideas more freely, experiment with them and share them through one of Henkel dx's many formats. Henkel dx Ventures, for example, invests in digital business models such as direct-to-consumer platforms in the e-commerce sector. Together with start-ups, market research experts, tech giants and consumers, we create innovations with a focus on consumer goods.
Cooperation of start-ups and large organizations offer benefits for both sides – new food for thought, and agile trading for the company and access to know-how and capital for young companies.
Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah, Chairwoman of Henkel’s Shareholder Committee and Supervisory Board and descendant of the company founder
Henkel Tech Ventures is the corporate venturing arm of Henkel Adhesive Technologies and invests in start-ups offering material science solutions or innovative digital business models. For example, Henkel Tech Ventures invested in companies for sensor technology in manufacturing as well as in the 3D printing sector.
Henkel's innovative strength is based on our own research and development, but also on a knowledge network – on the great creativity, specific skills, broad knowledge, and openness to learn of our employees and our networks. Because it is all about developing solutions together – for a sustainable future.
More about Innovation
Henkel opens “J-beauty innovation hub” in Tokyo
Henkel has officially opened its “J-beauty innovation hub” in Tokyo. The hub for the Hair Professional business will leverage the long-standing expertise of Schwarzkopf and Shiseido Professional in hair color innovation and trends as well as premium hair and scalp care, anti-hair loss, styling, and perm solutions.
Henkel presents Martha Schwarzkopf Award for Women in Science for the second time
For the second time, Henkel presents its research prize ”Martha Schwarzkopf Award for Women in Science”, dedicated to supporting female scientists. Alongside the main prize, an additional prize for “Emerging Talents” will also be awarded this year. Female researchers with a background in natural sciences, medicine or computer sciences can apply by pitching their contributions to the field of hair research or a related field.