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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 that consider the entire value chain and evaluate each product’s impact over its lifecycle.

Today, our products already have a positive impact on human progress and global health, namely our medicines and our biological and chemical innovations that utilize the latest technologies. We want to continuously improve the way we measure our progress by adapting and integrating sustainability criteria into our product development processes across the business sectors.

In 2022, we continued our partnership with the well-established patent information platform LexisNexis® PatentSight®. In this context, we created a framework to evaluate the sustainability impact of our intellectual property. For 2022, we evaluated the baseline for the first time and identified that 27% of our patent families published that year have a positive sustainability impact based on LexisNexis® PatentSight®.

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 the R&D and innovation processes in line with our shared goals. We developed a methodology for creating a Group-wide overview of the potential contribution of our R&D portfolio towards sustainable solutions that went live in December 2022.

Our Group Science & Technology Office leads the implementation of our combined strategy for innovation, data and digital, enabling innovation across our business sectors while harnessing the power of advanced data and digital capacities. It aims to identify and integrate transformative, strategically relevant technology trends into our business sectors while maintaining a Group-wide view of our tech roadmap and innovation portfolio. Fostering data and digital capacities 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.

Our venture capital fund, M Ventures, prioritizes sustainable innovations through equity investments. The fund’s mandate is to invest in innovative technologies and products that have the potential to significantly impact our core business areas. In addition, the fund focuses on investments in two areas of high strategic relevance to our company: digital technology and sustainability.

M Ventures’ sustainability investment strategy follows two fundamental approaches. First, it invests in sustainable solutions relevant to our three business sectors, such as novel solutions for reducing emissions and waste, green life science technologies and green electronics technologies. These solutions may be more energy- or resource-efficient or may create products designed for circularity or with a lower carbon footprint. The second approach involves making investments that leverage our core competencies to drive sustainability in other markets. These may include start-ups addressing sustainable foods, bio-manufacturing, or carbon capture and utilization.

Our commitment: Aiming for circularity

Within our R&D processes, we are committed to continuously improving and integrating sustainability and circular economy criteria to assess the sustainability performance of our products and portfolio. For example, our Life Science business sector developed Design for Sustainability (DfS) and the DOZN™ tool to create more sustainable products for our customers. In 2022, we tailored and rolled out the DfS concept to our two other business sectors and integrated an overarching company dashboard. In 2023, we aim to generate an understanding of our R&D portfolio and use the insights to steer future R&D activities. Therefore, we have developed an indicator to track our progress. In addition, we have dedicated corporate resources for our circular economy strategy and we are driving several circular economy pilots and initiatives throughout the organization.

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