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Sustainable research is central to our new R&D Strategy

With our new CTO, Gavin Bown, joining in 2021, we launched our new R&D Strategy. It places a significant focus of our activities on the development of more sustainable products.

The new strategy has three pillars:

1. Connected Global R&D Organization
Beckers is a decentralized organization, but to maximize resource efficiency and leverage, we need R&D to be connected across all of our locations. With the formation of the Global R&D Leadership Committee, we are driving the Global R&D Strategy and way of working, and sharing learnings and insights in key areas such as product portfolio, raw materials and sustainability.

2. Bringing the Outside In
Beckers has extensive in-house development capabilities, but we are always open to learning from other industries and partnering to develop more sustainable products and securing raw material supply. We are therefore putting more focus on technology scouting. This means we are looking outside the company and our traditional supplier base for emerging new technologies that will enable us to innovate – especially within the sustainability space. By broadening our ecosystem of partners, we can find synergies and potentially make technological breakthroughs. This includes collaborating with research institutes and innovative start-up companies, and funding PhD research. To ensure we have access to sufficient bio-based raw materials in future, we are establishing supplier partnerships today, and considering acquiring important technology providers or suppliers.  

3. Innovation Governance
We have established two new innovation governance forums, with a view to improving due diligence, traction and success rates for innovation within Beckers. The Global Innovation Committee (GIC) will govern projects within the Long Term Development (LTD) portfolio, ensuring that there is good project management discipline and commercial alignment. The Regional Innovation Committees (RICs) will manage innovation funnel deployment within each region. The purpose of these two important governance forums is to enable better decision making in terms of what we work on, and to improve the deployment to market and commercial success by engaging the full organization in the innovation process.

The new R&D Strategy puts sustainability at the center of every development and brings our global organization closer together. 

Looking at 2022 and beyond, the main focus is on improving the sustainability of Beckers products, with particular regard to circular economy-type approaches (e.g. bio-sourced raw materials and the use of recycled content in Beckers product formulations). There are a number of active projects under evaluation with external collaboration partners and technology providers. While reducing our footprint is extremely important, we see true value in enhancing our handprint through developing coatings with a sustainable function (e.g. solar-reflective coatings). 

Another focus area is looking at how new types of paint formulations can reduce the carbon footprint of the coil coating process itself (e.g. UV and electron beam curing), reflecting Beckers ambition to look more “end-to-end” across the full value chain in seeking more sustainable solutions. We are also looking at how Beckers can make smarter use of the vast quantities of data that we generate within R&D in product testing and weathering, and whether we can move from the current “transactional” way of working towards a more “predictive” way. The requirement to have up to four years of weathering data before launching new products is a significant rate-limiting step to new product introductions, so being able to shorten this with confidence could generate significant competitive advantage. A PhD studentship was started in 2021 with Liverpool University, looking at the mathematical analysis and modeling of historical weathering data.

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