When developing new products for the pest management industry, BASF executives cite a broad range of R&D investments designed to drive sustainability and enhance eco-efficiency.
|(Left to right) BASF executives Harald Lauke, president, Competence Center for Biological & Effect Systems Research; Markus Heldt, president, crop protection division; and Peter Eckes, president, BASF Plant Science Co., updated the business press on BASF’s R&D activities and its plans for future growth at a recent conference in Chicago.
CHICAGO – At a two-day Agricultural Solutions Media Summit designed to update business press editors on BASF’s global research initiatives, company executives reinforced their commitment to sustainability and eco-efficiency through ongoing investments in research and development (R&D), while highlighting a number of new products developed specifically for the pest management industry.
Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, a member of the company’s Board of Executive Directors, said innovation provides “the path to sustainability,” which is critical if companies like BASF are to feed an ever-expanding global population, which is expected to top 94 billion people by 2050.
Driving that innovation at the world’s largest chemical company are more than 10,000 R&D personnel spread throughout the globe, including scientists working at BASF’s North American headquarters in Florham Park, N.J.; its sprawling Agricultural Solutions campus in Research Triangle Park, N.C.; and the company’s pest control “Center of Excellence” in St. Louis, Mo.
|Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer said innovation provides “the path to sustainability,” which is critical if companies like BASF are to feed an ever-expanding global population, which is expected to top 94 billion people by 2050.
When it comes to feeding a rapidly growing population in a world with a finite amount of arable land, chemistry is often the “enabler” that transforms pure science into products designed to enhance crop yields, observed Dr. Harald Lauke, president, Competence Center for Biological & Effect Systems Research, BASF. “With continued innovation we get much more out of the land to feed the global population,” he said.
Despite these advances, however, the productivity bar keeps getting raised, requiring basic manufacturers to do more than simply discover “new molecules” to increase crop yields and control pests. More and more, manufacturers are focusing their energies on developing “functionalized materials and solutions” designed to spur advances in sustainability and eco-efficiency, according the Lauke, while meeting the product needs of customers in such diverse markets as agriculture, structural pest management and automobile manufacturing.
For example, Lauke cited a concept car jointly developed by Daimler and BASF that features a number of technologies pioneered by BASF scientists, including high-performance foams, infrared-reflective coating, all-plastic wheels, E-textiles and a solar roof with transparent organic solar panels and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) modules.
BASF by the Numbers
BASF Crop Protection, which includes the Specialty Products Division, is the company’s most R&D-intensive business. In 2011, BASF spent approximately 26 percent of its total R&D budget on crop-related projects. Here are some additional insights about the company’s R&D activities:
• 100,000 molecules are tested per year by BASF, typically resulting in one commercial end-use product.
• The average expense for developing a final product is 200 million Euros ($250 million).
• Last year, BASF posted global revenue of 73.5 billion Euros ($91.8 billion).
• By 2020, the company plans to generate 115 billion Euros ($143.7 billion).
• 30 billion Euros ($37.5 billion) of that goal will come from products and services that are less than 10 years old.
• 23 percent of BASF’s overall R&D budget is spent on new segments and businesses.
• Globally, 10,000 people work in R&D.
• BASF operates nearly 390 production facilities around the globe.
• In 2011, BASF filed for 1,050 new patents worldwide, more than any other chemical company, according to PatentSight.
To be successful today requires a commitment to enhancing a company’s “multi-disciplinary competencies,” Lauke observed. “Research is not just about lab-based work; it also means developing cross-functional teams to work closely with customers on the ground, in the markets,” he said. “It’s more than looking for just one molecule.”
“For us, teaming up with partners is critical to market success,” added Dr. Peter Eckes, president, BASF Plant Science Company. Such a go-to-market strategy allows the 147-year-old company to pro-actively address customer needs, while at the same time meet its financial obligations.
“Innovation and new technical solutions are the backbone of our strategy to reach our financial targets and goals,” said Markus Heldt, president, Crop Protection Division, a key driver in the company’s sustainability and eco-efficiency efforts. As a result, the division – which includes the company’s Pest Control Solutions business – continues to invest aggressively in various R&D activities, spending 325 million Euros ($406 million) annually on basic research.
In addition, BASF continues to invest substantial financial resources in property, plants and equipment, according to Heldt, spending $150 million Euros ($187 million) annually between 2007-2011, with plans to increase that investment to $200 million Euros ($250 million) annually from 2012-2016.
Corporate Commitment. BASF’s commitment to sustainability and eco-efficiency doesn’t stop with its Crop Protection and Plant Biotechnology operations. It also extends to its Specialty Products Division (SPD), which includes the Pest Control Solutions business, where the company is a major player thanks to the introduction of Termidor in 2000 and the acquisition of Whitmire Micro-Gen Research Laboratories in 2008.
Whether feeding an ever-growing world population or controlling pests in the most environmentally responsible fashion possible, “innovation is the pathway to sustainability,” observed Jan Buberl, director, BASF Specialty Products. “The pest control market is a strategic focus for BASF. We will continue to support the industry and our customers by bringing innovations that deliver value including products that reduce termite labor from 30 to 80 percent and reduce (GPC) callbacks by 15 percent. You can also expect to see one to two new innovations from BASF every year for this market.”
|Jan Buberl, director, BASF Specialty Products, discusses how the company’s next generation of products for the pest management industry will enhance eco-efficiency and sustainability.
And while the bulk of BASF’s research budget is allocated to agriculture, the Specialty Products Division receives its fair share of R&D dollars, as evidenced by the recent introduction of Termidor HE, an extension of the company’s Termidor product line featuring a new molecular technology that creates an enhanced protection zone around structures requiring less water, smaller trenches, fewer drill holes and shallower minimum treatment depths, according to the manufacturer. “We have dedicated resources that do not compete with crop,” Buberl said. “We see pest control as a strategic business for us.”
“One way in which a company measures its innovative power is by the number and quality of its patents,” added Tom Hill, communications manager, Specialty Products. “In 2011, BASF filed around 1,050 new patents worldwide. Furthermore, we ranked first in the Patent Asset Index for the third time in succession. This method, which compares patent portfolios industry-wide, found BASF to be the most innovative company in the chemical industry worldwide.”
Adopt an Acre
As evidence of its commitment to protecting the environment, BASF is a supporter of The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt An Acre® program. In fact, the company adopted an acre of land for each participant attending the company’s Agricultural Solutions Media Summit.
Since the program was launched in 1991, more than 30,000 people, schools, and organizations have raised $22 million to protect 600,000 acres of land throughout the world, from vital landscapes across North America and The Bahamas to the woodlands of Australia and some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs. But there is much more work still to be done, The Nature Conservancy says.
With a strong network of partners, The Nature Conservancy is working hard to conserve 1.7 million acres of public and private land through promoting sustainable forest management, establishing conservation easements; acquiring land and restoring forested lands; and combating invasive species.
Whether PMPs want to protect the wild areas where lions, cheetahs, elephants and wildebeests roam or help protect the largest breeding ground for the North Atlantic humpback whale, you can make a lasting difference when you select the area you care about most and adopt today.
Best of all, you’ll know you’re making a world of difference and can even share your passion for conservation when you give a loved one Adopt an Acre as a gift, according to The Nature Conservancy. To learn more about the program, visit www.adopt.nature.org.
Focus on Sustainability. Not surprisingly, the Specialty Products Division (SPD) is also a key driver in the company’s sustainability efforts. “BASF defines sustainability as balancing economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility,” Buberl said, utilizing sound scientific principles, as well as respected third-parties, to make its case.
Towards that end, SPD recently conducted an eco-efficiency analysis of Termidor SC and Termidor HE, with the results of the year-long study validated by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The study was designed to determine the “environmental footprint” of two formulations of Termidor when treating 1,000 houses over a 20-year period. The treatments included:
- A traditional termite treatment utilizing Termidor SC (rodding/trenching)
- A PerimeterPLUS treatment utilizing Termidor SC
- A traditional termite treatment utilizing Termidor High Efficiency (HE) Copack
- A Termidor HE PerimterPLUS treatment
The eco-efficiency analysis measured six key environmental impacts for each of the treatment types: energy, raw materials, land use, risk, toxicity potential and emissions. After analyzing all of the data, what BASF learned is there is a “quantifiable and significant reduction in overall environmental impacts” relative to using Termidor SC with both the PerimeterPLUS and Termidor HE treatment options versus traditional rodding and trenching with Termidor SC.
“The PerimeterPLUS has a completely different footprint than the conventional solution,” Buberl oberved, as does Termidor HE. The “key takeaway” from the study, he said, is “Termidor HE PerimeterPLUS is the most eco-efficient alternative, while a conventional treatment of Termidor SC is the least eco-efficient.”
So what are the practical implications of PMPs performing more eco-efficient termiticide applications? Buberl said it’s significant, with the eco-efficiency savings over a 20-year period for a Termidor HE PerimeterPLUS treatment equal to the “total energy consumed by 40 residential homes in the U.S. for a year.”
While the environmental benefits of such a treatment regimen are significant, Buberl said there are also a number of financial advantages, including labor savings, lower fuel costs and more efficient termiticide use. Such a treatment regimen provides a “significant reduction in costs,” he said, particularly as it relates to fuel and water consumption.
Buberl said BASF’s technical staff will be presenting the findings of the company’s eco-efficiency study to PMPs throughout the fall and winter as it continues to roll out Termidor HE, as well as the newest product in the company’s pipeline – Termidor SI, a proprietary soil injection system.
Termidor SI will be on display at NPMA PestWorld in October and available to the broader marketplace “by the end of the year,” according to Buberl. The product was developed, in part, to address a number of common customer concerns, including the time it takes to complete a traditional termite job. “The Termidor SI System treats 10 linear feet in approximately 30 seconds,” so technicians can treat a home in a fraction of the time of traditional treatments, Buberl said. “That’s a game changer.”
|Anne Burt, director, BASF Group Communications, welcomes attendees to the Agricultural Solutions Media Summit in Chicago.
In addition, Termidor SI eliminates the need for trenching, thereby limiting disruption to the landscape and reducing technician fatigue. An on-board computer also provides precise dosing and tracking of the termiticide, according to the manufacturer, enhancing the PMP’s record-keeping capabilities. “The customers we have tested this concept with are completely impressed,” he said. "A machine like this creates a key differentiator in the marketplace."
Conclusion. With the introduction of Termidor HE Copack in February and the planned launch of Termidor SI later this year, Buberl said BASF has delivered on its promise to introduce at least two new products annually that are both sustainable and eco-efficient, while at the same time designed to enhance the PMP’s bottom line. Yet the company is not ready to rest on its laurels. “We have some very exciting stuff in the pipeline,” Buberl said. “I think we’re on a nice track.”
Building a Sustainable Future
BASF Corporation gives more than just lip service to the topic of sustainability. It’s a company that walks the talk, as evidenced by the grand opening of BASF’s new North American headquarters building in Florham Park, N.J.
“Our new headquarters stands as a tangible example of how BASF creates chemistry for a sustainable future,” said Chairman and CEO Hans Engel. “By incorporating the latest technologies and materials with smart design and sophisticated ergonomics, we will be protective of the environment while providing 1,400 employees with a healthy and safe work atmosphere where they can even better cooperate and collaborate.”
Designed to achieve LEED double Platinum standards, the 325,000-square foot building features a variety of BASF-enabled construction products that lower energy consumption and increase building life expectancy.
“By utilizing a combination of BASF-enabled insulating materials, low VOC coatings, sustainable concrete technologies and other BASF products, we have built a North American headquarters with a remarkable sustainability profile,” Engel said. “If we succeed in achieving this certification, and we’re confident we will, our North American headquarters will be the largest LEED double Platinum office building in the State of New Jersey, and one of the largest in the nation.”
The company also recently broke ground on a $33 million expansion of its Agricultural Solutions campus in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Nearly 80,000 square feet of office, laboratory and greenhouse facilities will support the company’s plant biotechnology and insect control research as a result of the expansion. This is the first in a series of investments that the Agricultural Solutions segment will make in 2012 to strengthen its global R&D platforms.
“This expansion demonstrates the company’s strategic commitment to agricultural solutions and strengthening R&D in all of our markets,” said Nevin McDougall, senior vice president, BASF Crop Protection, North America. “It also underscores our commitment to the site’s employees and the surrounding community.”
Construction is expected to be completed by mid-2013. The planned expansion includes a climate-controlled greenhouse and laboratories for plant biotechnology research, a custom environmentally-controlled insect production facility, and office space.
A significant portion of the company’s insecticide research is already conducted in Research Triangle Park (RTP). The larger, modernized facilities will ensure comprehensive and faster evaluation of the company’s insecticide candidates, thus expanding its development capabilities.
“BASF Plant Science has been located in RTP since 1998. With this significant addition to our existing facilities, we are strengthening our research platform at this strategic site,” said Juergen Schweden, senior vice president, Research & Development, BASF Plant Science. The site currently employs approximately 780 people and occupies 400,000 square feet.
BASF’s “Center of Excellence” for the structural pest control industry is located in St. Louis, Mo. It includes a state-of-the-art aerosol manufacturing facility and extensive formulation capabilities.
|BASF’s North American headquarters building in Florham Park, N.J., is a live demonstration of BASF innovation in action, and is an example of the company's fundamental commitment to sustainability.