By: Regina Ramazzini

TechConnect speaks with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, VP and Regional Head, Corporate Innovation at Evonik Corporation, about the company's technology/solution primary areas of interest.

  Evonik Corporation Sanjay Gupta

Please tell us about yourself and your role within Evonik.

Dr.Sanjay Gupta, Evonik Corporation, Vice President and Regional Head, Corporate Innovation, North America.

In this capacity, I coordinate all activities of Corporate Innovation and lead innovation management in the NAFTA region.

In this role, I actively support the Business segments and corporate functions in the following: a) identifying and evaluating the appropriate development and cooperation partners, b) integrating technologies and know-how, c) establishing successful contacts at the expert level and d) launching initial concrete projects.

Our activities are comprised of Evonik’s technology scouting, building and maintaining long-term contact partners, as well as promoting scientific exchange with selected universities and governmental research institutes in NAFTA region (Scientific Relations Management), active exchange with research policy (R&D Policy, Lobbying & Branding), identifying options for joint innovation activities with companies (Industry Cross Innovation), and identifying emerging innovation potential through Open Innovation.

What are technology/solution areas that you have a primary interest in?

We are interested in novel innovative technologies that have gone beyond the proof-of-concept stage with demonstrated success. We are open to take a closer look at an early stage developmental type technology from an academic or governmental research facility that has a potential to grow into maturity. Following are a few select areas of interest; Novel drug delivery methods, Taste Masking, Innovative Coating technology, Novel Biomaterials, Smart materials, Sensors, Liposomes for Drug Delivery, Advanced Food Ingredient, Anti friction coatings, Graft Co-polymers, Flame Retardant Additives, Additives for Oil Lubrication and Enzymatic Biotechnology.

What level of commercial maturity do you typically look for in technology partnerships? 

Technologies that have advanced beyond the proof-of-concept stage with demonstrated growth towards a start-up with moderate to high commercial success.

Typically we are interested in technologies that are at TRL > 4.

Depending upon the relevancy and technology fit with our Business Lines, we are ready to entertain following different partnership relationships:

  1. Licensing a technology with royalty payment arrangement.
  2. Equity partnership
  3. Potential acquisition

With small to medium size enterprises (with demonstrated technology) we are open to consider a Joint Development Agreement to test and develop a nascent technology for its commercial viability.

We prefer technologies that originated in NAFTA region. However, we are open to examine opportunities from other parts of the world.

Tell us why innovation is important to your company and how this model supports your efforts to find new innovations.

Creating markets through creative ideas is one of the core competencies of Evonik. Innovation plays a key role in almost all our activities. Evonik adopts several pathways to support both internal and external innovations. Following are few representative examples:

  • Ideation Jam: Evonik has several channels for employees to submit creative ideas. One of them is an event promoted annually called ‘Ideation Jam’, where employees are encouraged to submit ideas which are voted on and winning teams are encouraged (with management support) to test their ideas.
  • Evonik Meets Science: In order to participate in the latest research findings, Evonik cooperates with leading universities around the world. We have been holding regular "Evonik Meets Science" events in Germany, China, Japan and the United States for about ten years in order to strengthen our networks with top international researchers. In these forums, our experts exchange ideas with leading scientists from a wide variety of fields and institutions.
  • ECRP: The Evonik Call for Research Proposals—the ECRP—is an entirely new approach to open innovation at Evonik. Designed around thematically well-defined problems that are timely and relevant for Evonik, the ECRP is addressed to professors and scientists at universities and research institutes, drawing them directly into the discussion and the search for solutions.
  • MindSumo: Evonik successfully uses a crowdsourcing platform ‘MindSumo’ to generate ideas on variety of topics ranging from health related to fuel economy improvements.
  • Project House: Project houses are part of the strategic innovation unit, CREAVIS, at Evonik. In a project house, we work together with several business lines on a defined topic area. Experts from the participating business lines generally come together for a period of three years and work jointly on the development topics of that particular project house. After the end of that period, the researchers return to their business lines. The products and technologies developed in the project houses are typically marketed by the business lines. Since the year 2000, Evonik has created a total of eleven project houses.

Why work with TechConnect and the National Innovation Summit as a technology prospector?  Who are you looking to meet with?

Evonik views TechConnect as an event to connect with entrepreneurs, innovative startups, academic technology transfer officers, and SBIR Awardees to review/assess emerging technologies that are of relevance to our Business Lines. This is a unique platform which connects parties looking for technology solutions with providers that have answers. We are interested in meeting with anyone having innovative ideas from the following areas: Material Science, Drug Delivery, Animal Nutrition, Nanocomposite, Thermal Management, Thin Film Display, Printed Electronic, and Coating Additives.

What did you like most about the 2016 conferences?

Presentations on Innovation Spotlights are well organized and specific to select topics. Evening Industry Socials and Poster presentations offer a good network opportunity.