“R&D at our company is based on three pillars: market trends & customer insights, our technology platforms, and – probably most importantly – our collaborative culture,” said John Banovetz, Chief Technology Officer at 3M in his masterclass “The Organization of Science and Innovation at 3M”.
3M is a renowned global company with a wide range of products for Health Care, Safety & Graphics, Industrial, Electronics & Energy, and Consumer.
Trends & insights
To gain better insight in the markets, 3M organizes regular sessions with customers and other market representatives. The R&D efforts at 3M are focused on societal challenges where the company’s technology platforms can provide solutions:
- Increasing energy efficiency
- Strengthening renewable energy
- Protecting food supply
- Delivering energy where it’s needed
- Helping people breathe easier
- Purifying water.
3M distinguishes 46 technology platforms, including abrasives, the technology that started 3M back in 1902 as the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company (“46 Applications for smart materials”). In principle, these platforms are applied to all markets. For instance, adhesives are used in Health Care for medical tapes and dressings, in Safety & Graphics for reflective material, in Industrial to hold planes and cars together, in Electronics & Energy for securing parts of electronic devices, and for Consumer in the famous Post-in notes.
Moreover, several technologies are combined in new products.
A distinguishing aspect of 3M’s R&D organization is the collaborative culture, which starts with the principle that all technologies belong to the whole company, not just one business group. The 3M Tech Forum comprises over thirty active Special-Interest Chapters and a great number of events are organized to exchange knowledge among 3M researchers.
And then, there’s the 15 percent culture, which allows 3M personnel to spend 15 percen of their time on (research) projects that not directly fit their official job. Banovetz said: “My gut tells me that all our innovations started from that 15 percent.”
John Banovetz was at Brightlands Chemelot Campus as a guest of DSM; DSM that made his masterclass public for the whole campus community.