Annual Report 2021

Sustainable innovation & technology

The sustainable innovation that we envision or drive forward must align with and support the three goals of our sustainability strategy. We define sustainable innovation as new or improved products, services, technologies, or processes that generate economic benefits and have positive environmental and social impacts. Therefore, we develop long-term solutions for our innovation and research activities long-term solutions that consider the entire value chain and evaluate each product’s impact over its lifecycle.

Research and development (R&D) play an essential role in further improving our sustainability performance. They are critical elements that determine the sustainability impact of our products, from their initial conception to market launch. Our business sectors create tailored sustainability strategies to develop products that benefit patients and customers. We are also improving the way we measure our progress, which includes the introduction of sustainability criteria within our product development processes.

In 2021, we partnered with the well-established patent information platform LexisNexis® PatentSight® to assess the sustainability impact of our intellectual property. Building on this, we will start disclosing the share of newly published sustainability-related patent families as of the 2022 reporting year.

Roles and responsibilities

The organizational set-up of our R&D activities reflects the overall structure of our company. All three of our business sectors operate independent R&D units that pursue their own innovation strategies. Group Corporate Sustainability supports our business sectors and group functions to advance and integrate sustainability within our R&D and innovation processes in line with our shared goals.

Our new Group Science & Technology Office leads the implementation of our combined strategy for innovation and “data & digital”, enabling innovation across our business sectors while harnessing the power of highly advanced data and digital capacities. It aims to identify and integrate transformative technology trends into our business sectors while maintaining a company-wide view of our tech roadmap and innovation portfolio. In addition, it ensures the strategic fit of our innovation fields. Fostering data & digital is key to accelerating sustainable innovation and enabling rapid action and personalized offerings. Innovation projects are incubated either through our corporate innovation teams or in the business sectors.

Lastly, we are also investing in sustainable solutions via M Ventures, our strategic corporate venture capital fund. It complements our Life Science, Healthcare and Electronics business sectors by focusing on investments in two areas of high strategic relevance to our company: digital technology and sustainability.

Our commitment: Aiming for circularity

Within our R&D processes, we continuously improve and integrate sustainability KPIs to measure the sustainability performance of our products and portfolio. For example, our Life Science business sector developed Design for Sustainability (DfS) as well as the DOZN™ tool to enable the creation of more sustainable products for our customers. In addition, several circular economy initiatives are underway throughout the organization, some of which are in collaboration with external partners.

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