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Research partnerships for more sustainability


Henkel Laundry & Home Care in collaboration with top international scientists

How can even more energy be saved when doing the laundry? What active ingredients in cleaning products serve to further reduce the required dosage? And how can concentrated formulations reduce water consumption? These and similar questions relating to increased sustainability in washing and cleaning are a constant subject of research performed by Henkel in cooperation with partners from the world of science and industry. In the field of fundamental research especially, collaborations with universities constitute an important component of Henkel’s innovation management approach.

In 2009, the Henkel business sector Laundry & Home Care created a Technology Advisory Board with a view to promoting interdisciplinary discussion on current research issues. The Board consists of eight international professors from various faculty fields of relevance to Henkel – for example Catalysis, Microbiology and Surfactant Chemistry. Henkel consults with these experts on the current status of various research projects, on new concepts, on changing consumer requirements and on future demands likely to define the laundry and home care products of tomorrow. This year, the discussion agenda included issues such as resource efficiency, detergent compaction and aspects of hygiene. The Technology Advisory Board also consults on the selection of the young scientists worthy of receiving the annual Henkel Laundry & Home Care Research Award.

This extensive dialogue with the leading professors sitting on the Board is one of many examples of how Henkel utilizes its global network of external partners. “Open Innovation,” i.e. the inclusion of universities, research institutions, suppliers and customers in the company’s research activities, is an important part of the innovation and development strategy adopted by Henkel. The Laundry & Home Care business sector alone currently collaborates with more than 30 universities and research institutions, including renowned bodies such as the Max Planck Society (MPI Mülheim), the Fraunhofer Society (IAP Potsdam) and Columbia University (New York). Regular workshops are also held with selected partners to discuss specific issues.

Cooperation with suppliers in relation to new ingredients and technologies for laundry and home care products is also of huge importance for Henkel. There is a broad range of joint projects in existence at any one time, each regularly supplemented by innovation workshops. Regular interchange with trend scouts, independent researchers and start-up companies likewise contributes to Henkel’s innovative capacity.

Over the long term, this joint research approach is expected to contribute to the company’s ability to “achieve of more with less.” This ambition to significantly increase resource efficiency is at the heart of Henkel’s sustainability strategy. Its stated aim is to create more value for customers and consumers, for society and particularly the communities in which the company operates, and for Henkel itself – while at the same time reducing the associated ecological footprint. This will require innovative products and technologies capable of combining strong performance with responsibility toward people and the environment. And already today, 40 percent of Henkel’s revenues in the branded consumer goods segment is generated with innovative products that have been in the marketplace for less than three years.


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