Covestro expands open innovation in China
Covestro is expanding its open innovation, or cross industry innovation with various partners starting from its Asia Pacific Innovation Center in Shanghai with the new concept of “Open Innovation Hub.”
The move comes as the multi-industry ecosystems in China have evolved through open innovation principles that push the boundaries of the traditional industry sectors as well as for industry upgrade.
“China is setting the pace for technologies and solutions in many areas that address future trends, and we see tremendous potential here to engage with different innovation partners,” said Holly Lei, President of Covestro China. “With the Open Innovation concept we take a step forward in implementing our ‘in China, for the world’ innovation strategy.”
The Open Innovation concept will support experts and partners with an infrastructure to work on five important pillars, for example in engaging with designers, start-ups and established customers to explore potential aesthetic and circular design of products.
The new approach enables experts to reach out into the ecosystems to find partners for sustainability topics and circular economy, and helps to build networks for industries and applications where Chinese developments take a leading role such as mobility, robotics, bio-materials and drones.
“We will bundle our open innovation activities under one umbrella now,” said Dr Michael Schmidt, Head of Innovation, Covestro, Asia Pacific. “We strive for a close and intense collaboration with our partners from all kind of industries with the goal to build a leading innovation ecosystem for our customers.”
Covestro has been active in connecting with start-ups, academia such as Tongji University and cross-industry partners even before implementing a branded open innovation concept in China.
Open innovation enabling 5G in China
Covestro showed its materials for 5G at this year’s K Fair from October 16–23 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The materials are in fact a teamwork fruit, which is benefiting from Covestro’s open innovation concept.
As 5G is going to become the basis for a fully mobile and networked society, it is a key technology for the digitalization of all areas of life and the economy.
The new technology enables close networking of devices such as cell phones, tablets, vehicles, household appliances, industrial plants and many others to form an Internet of Things (IoT).
With the installation of 5G, the demand for base stations, active antenna units (AAU) and other equipment will increase dramatically. Covestro is developing innovative and sustainable material solutions and contributing to a smart infrastructure, including sensor technologies and a digital communication environment.
China is leading in 5G network deployment. Covestro’s global 5G team is working with Southeast University of China on the optimization of radio frequency data transmittance.
In Europe, the company is cooperating closely with Deutsche Telekom and the Umeå Institute of Design. Together with its partners, the company is committed to achieving the materials of choice for 5G technology.
Open innovation brings inspiration to reality
At K Fair, Covestro also showed the running and basketball shoes which were created together with Chinese designer Axis Liu.
“For me new materials are one of the most powerful driving forces for creative shoe design and for exploring new possibilities,” says Axis Liu. “Therefore, I appreciate the know-how of the experts at Covestro and I will continue to benefit from this in the future.”
The cooperation between Liu and the Covestro team resulted in athletic shoe concepts that set standards in many respects. They are highly sustainable and light, yet extremely durable.
Because running shoes are often worn outdoors for several hours at a time, it is particularly important for the upper material to be water resistant and breathable.
For the basketball shoes, it is considered that the feet and bodies of basketball players are more strained in different ways than those of runners.
That’s why there are also differences in the individual components of the materials used.
Besides industries, Covestro expands its open innovation concept to universities and research institutions in China.
Covestro launched “Future Cities Competition” with its long-term partner Tongji University in Shanghai from August 5-9, 2019.
Competition participants were tasked to build a prototype of a future city by utilizing Covestro materials and applying the Internet of Things (IoT) to future homes.
The winner team was invited to K Fair to present their winning ideas.
“For close to a decade, Covestro has been working with Tongji to train young talent to explore innovative and sustainable material solutions,” says Dr Michael Schmidt, also the Dean of the Covestro-Tongji Innovation Academy.
“Through this competition, we look forward to gaining new insights as we accelerate towards tomorrow’s smart living.”
“Engaging and inspiring the next generation to contribute to drive innovation for sustainable urban development is important to us. This is why we are actively reaching out to them and providing a platform where they can share their vision of Future Cities,” he added.
With 2018 sales of 14.6 billion euro (US$16.2 billion), Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life.
The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself.
Covestro has about 30 production sites around the globe and as of the end of 2018 employed approximately 16,800 people (full-time equivalents).
China is Covestro’s single largest market, with sales totaling 3.1 billion euro in 2018, accounting for 21 percent of group sales. Covestro’s cumulative investment in China exceeded 3.3 billion euro since 2001.