10-Mar-2015 Düsseldorf / Germany
HICAST – Excellence in Sustainable Technologies
Henkel and RWTH, the Aachen University of Science and Technology, are beginning a new collaboration with the inauguration of a joint “Innovation Campus.” Experts from both sides will be working together on an interdisciplinary basis, driving research and development in the field of detergents and household cleaners. Henkel’s business unit Laundry & Home Care will invest up to 5 million euros in the project over the next five years.
The Innovation Campus in Aachen was officially inaugurated on March 3rd by Bruno Piacenza, Executive Vice President Laundry & Home Care, and Prof. Dr. Ernst Schmachtenberg, Rector of Aachen’s “Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule” (RWTH). Henkel committed to investing up to 5 million euros in this R&D partnership, furthering its policy of pursuing close cooperation with universities and external research institutes as a core element of its research and development strategy.
The full name of the campus is “Henkel Innovation Campus for Advanced Sustainable Technologies” – or HICAST for short. At HICAST, Henkel will be collaborating closely with four professors – Alexander Böker, Regina Palkovits, Walter Richtering and Ulrich Schwaneberg – of the Faculty of Chemistry and Biotechnology at RWTH and the DWI-Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials. Together they will tackle an advanced fundamental research cluster. “Our aim is to drive basic technology and innovation in order to improve the resource efficiency and performance of the detergents of the future,” explains Bruno Piacenza
“Open Innovation” – industry and university working hand-in-hand
The Innovation Campus is an example of the kind of intensive collaboration that Henkel pursues with external research partners. The innovation rate of the Laundry & Home Care business unit currently lies at 45% – which means that the business generates 45% of its sales with products that have been on the market for less than three years. “Innovations are a major growth driver. We recognize and appreciate the talents and creativity of experts outside the company,” says Bruno Piacenza. “This is why we have committed to an approach of ‘Open Innovation’ involving a wide range of external partners including universities and students, research institutes, suppliers, and customers in our innovation processes.”
RWTH Aachen is one of the few German universities with a leading position in national and international rankings. The university has established several excellence clusters, graduate schools, and project houses over the last few years, further expanding its already cutting-edge research capabilities. “Our university has made it an objective to become a leader in research regarding industrial innovation,” states Rector Prof. Dr. Ernst Schmachtenberg. “We are delighted that an international company such as Henkel has chosen RWTH Aachen as its collaboration partner for applied basic research in one of our research clusters.”
HICAST focuses on interdisciplinary interchange between process engineering, chemistry and biotechnology. For example, the Faculty of Molecular Science and Engineering is developing innovative, bio-based raw materials. The research team made up of chemists and biotechnologists are researching fundamentally new, high-performance and resource-efficient ingredients for the laundry and home care products of the future.