Product Innovation
Product Innovation

Our product innovation is determined by what we have in our pipeline, patents applied for/or registered, and our vitality index We are making next generation products with reduced environmental impacts a reality and continually evaluate the use of more sustainable raw materials to meet performance, economic and compliance requirements.

Process Innovation
Process Innovation

IVL also pursues improvements through process innovation to:

  • Increase quality yields (reducing waste and off-grading)
  • Reduce the cost of production (reducing energy costs)
  • Increase product consistency (reducing costs in the value chain)
  • Reduce energy consumption
  • Reduce effluents (into air or water)
  • Meet compliance requirements
  • Improve working conditions (noise reduction)

Environmental Innovation

Our achievements in sustainable development demonstrate our leadership in promoting sustainability throughout the value chain. Our Guiding Principles for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability focus on compliance, conservation, and in promoting the three R’s: reduce-reuse-recycle, ensuring environmental stewardship for present and future generations as a fundamental cornerstone for a sustainable business.

Open Innovation

Open innovation provides significant business opportunities by reducing costs, accelerating time to market, increasing differentiation, efficiency and effectiveness of innovation processes, and creating new revenue streams. We recognize its importance and engage with technology providers, customers, and suppliers to develop new products and processes to create customer value.

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Circular Economy

We aim to play a leading role in bringing customers of recycled products into the product value chain cycle and recyclability into all our products. This priority is included in our climate change strategy and demonstrated through our participation in Project Mainstream, to accelerate business-driven innovation and help scale recycling.

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R&D Centers

To retain a competitive advantage, and with 11 Research & Development (R&D) centers worldwide, we leverage innovation to drive efficiencies and improvements in systems and processes. As of December 31, 2016, we have more than 250 product patents that are applicable in the regions where our operating sites are based.

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Innovation Management is important to our success, and includes the evaluation of existing systems, practices, and incremental improvements to existing products and processes. We continually assess our understanding of the market; what our customers want to achieve; and hold focused innovation summits, spending time with experts to understand potential opportunities.

We follow a stage-gate system with two major elements. First, we want to make sure that we can clearly articulate what the value is that is associated with the innovation. Second, we want to make sure that we bring ideas and innovations to the marketplace as quickly as possible.

Stage-Gate System

We are globalizing the principles of the Stage-Gate system, a key business process, to better manage R&D programs. Apart from its well-known and disciplined benefits, there is also the benefit of its integration with Product Stewardship, through a formal assessment of a variety of environmental and social impacts.

The stage-gate process provides clarity to the sales and marketing teams on the value of the projects and their viability, thereby helping management determine which projects have the most significant impacts. The goal of our stage-gate process is to continually assess the commercial and technical viability of our products. By doing so, we are assessing at a very early stage whether the design is fit for purpose.

Once we are sure that the design is fit for purpose and the customer is satisfied, we can then scale up the project and product. This allows us to reduce the risk of doing so and not meeting our customer’s needs. In the stage-gate process, we begin with the prototype, and then scale up through various steps. This allows us to reduce the risk of the financial impact of products that are not commercially or technically viable.

Innovation Governing Structure

Innovation councils meet quarterly to review project proposals, new technologies and customer needs. They also review the progress of projects to consider any problems and develop solutions to prevent future complications.

In the fibers segment, the corporate innovation council is responsible for coordinating functions that are global in scope, for example, DJSI, innovation management, and product stewardship. We have aligned our product development process through our segment leads.

Program ideas can come through a variety of means, often through our sales and marketing functions, or else directly to the R&D leads.

Most often, these initiatives can directly be handled by the site. Sometimes, the program initiative may require multiple resources, multi-site resources, or it may not be appropriate for a given site. So the segment R&D leads take these ideas either to the right site or coordinate a multi-site program. The R&D teams then engage with customers to define and refine the project ideas, and to develop a program. Along with the site R&D teams and the sales and marketing functions, these programs are then converted into product development platforms.

We also generate innovation through other sources, for example, from suppliers, and open innovation opportunities coming through universities.