New Product Lines with Open Innovation

Published Apr-04-14

How a Dutch multinational’s open innovation approaches are yielding new product lines, solving technical challenges and boosting carbon-friendly research.

AkzoNobel, Netherlands

The Story:

New Product Lines with Open Innovation AkzoNobel, is a Dutch multinational that creates decorative paints, performance coatings and specialty chemicals. For a number of years it has been very active in the open innovation space looking for and finding an array of external knowledge sources to help it solve technical problems and innovate its products.

“In today’s increasingly complex world, knowledge is key,” says Graeme Armstrong, Executive Committee Member for Research Development & Innovation, AkzoNobel.

“But knowing what you don’t know may be almost as important as knowing what you do. In our company, we are confident that we have a community of motivated, highly skilled, very smart scientists, and collectively, our company has built up a great bank of valuable knowledge. But still we recognize that there are gaps in our knowledge.”

Open Innovation Success Stories

The company engages with open innovation in a number of ways including seeking out partnerships and requesting ideas through its online portal, Open Space.
AkzoNobel’s OI engagement has been fruitful, creating a number of open innovation success stories:

Better beverage cans – the company has worked with a host of external suppliers to develop a way that not only gives a high-gloss finish to drinks cans, but also provides good scuff resistance.

Carbon-friendly research – AkzoNobel has been working with SINTEF, a Norwegian research institute to produce new products and production processes that use carbon dioxide as a source material. The company says that so far it has identified 240 unique catalytic systems of which 40 are promising enough to be investigated further.

Low-carbon paint – the market is demanding greener paint products so AkzoNobel entered into partnership with the Dulux brand and Forum for the Future (a UK-based NGO) to develop new lines of ‘green’ paints. Each partner brought their own expertise to the table. For example, Forum for the Future provided know-how about sustainability and AkzoNobel provided innovative paint formulations.

Stickerfix - do-it-yourself adhesive repair system for chips, scuffs and scratches on car paintwork. The product brings together several technologies: AkzoNobel's leading edge film technology in adhesives and an external partner’s knowledge of the coatings technologies for the basecoats and color matching technologies.

Open Innovation Boosts Competitiveness

AkzoNobel has long realized that to be competitive and get ahead it needs to create new solutions and improve on existing ones. Resting on its laurels is not an option; the search for better, faster, cheaper and more functional help to guide its thinking.
While many large corporations struggle to make connections outside of their own four walls, AkzoNobel is forging ahead with partnerships that benefit all members of their innovation ecosystems.

In an article in IHS Chemical Week, Jos Keurentjes, RD&I Director/Open Innovation, AkzoNobel wrote:

“At AkzoNobel, we know there are times when we need to work with others to find those breakthrough innovative solutions. That is why open innovation is a big part of our innovation strategy, and that is also why we will become massively engaged in open relationships with a wide range of technology and knowledge providers.”

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