Smart science to improve lives™
Internal innovation at Croda

Innovation

Our Research and Development (R&D) team comprises of more than 450 scientists from a diverse range of specialisms including chemistry, biotechnology, specialist excipients and plant science. These talented individuals drive the creation of more effective and sustainable ingredients to address the needs of our customers and consumers globally. 

Furthering our capabilities

Our strategic objectives as we head towards 2030 include scaling our biotechnology capabilities. We are exploring how this science can extend our knowledge and challenge our thinking in how we manufacture. Biotechnology offers many sustainability benefits, and we can use it to improve and develop our existing scientific know-how.

Biotechnology is not new to Croda. Sederma, our Beauty Actives business, has developed over 50 innovative ingredients using this capability, and we have been building our expertise with acquisitions such as Nautilus, which specialises in marine biotechnology, and Enza Biotech, which specialises in using enzymes. We have also established a biotechnology R&D lab in the UK.

Sustainability Impact Assessments indicate biotechnology can bring clear benefits to our customers and our own operations including:

  • Reduced need for chemical processing.
  • Lower temperatures, reducing the amount of energy required for reactions.
  • Reducing or removing the need for catalysts.
  • Reducing our scope 2 and 3 carbon emissions.
  • Improved process safety.
Enza Biotech

Case study: Sustainable sugar based surfactants

In 2019, we completed the integration of Enza Biotech. This acquisition, which demonstrated our commitment to delivering sustainable solutions without compromising on product performance, means we now play a central role in developing next-generation renewable surfactants using carbohydrate-based chemistry. Using this smart science, we can fill a technology gap in the surfactants market using natural and renewable raw materials.

Case study: Sustainable ways of working in R&D

We are focused on aligning the work of our global R&D teams with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this includes mapping how each of the 169 SDG targets can be supported through our innovation, identifying how we can better use the SDGs to direct our R&D.

People collaborating

Partner with us

Innovation thrives when it’s driven by a diverse mix of ideas, this is why we always look to collaborate and share insight with our industry partners.

Case study: Eliminating microplastics from seed treatment

There is growing concern globally about the accumulation of microplastics in the environment. In 2020, our seed enhancement business Incotec developed the first microplastic-free products for sunflower, corn and vegetable seeds. 

Microplastics remain in the environment for a significant time and as levels increase, there is a potential risk to human and animal health. A major challenge in reducing microplastic pollution is their resistance to normal environmental degradation. European legislation banning intentionally added microplastics in seed coatings should come into force in 2027. 

Developing microplastic-free seed treatments is complex: they must glue the plant protection ingredients as effectively as today’s polymers, and cannot interfere with seed health, shelf life or germination. At the same time, different crops and different plant protection products react differently to different coatings.

The Incotec technological breakthrough therefore solved a huge environmental issue without growers having to sacrifice crop efficiency. Our colleagues are continuing to develop more seed coatings and their full portfolio will be microplastic-free well ahead of European legislation, helping our customers get ahead of a major regulatory impact and meet their industry’s proactive sustainability targets. We expect similar restrictions to be adopted elsewhere.
 

Innovation in manufacturing

Our Process Innovation Team focuses on intensification and novel technologies in manufacturing, always prioritising improvements in sustainability. Their insights and efforts help us to develop alternative manufacturing routes for products, further increasing our use of bio-based raw materials, reducing CO2 emissions, and cutting water usage. They: 
  • Identify and understand the challenges of our different manufacturing sites.
  • Find or develop technologies to meet site needs.
  • Integrate new technologies and update existing ways of working. 

At any given time, up to three-quarters of our manufacturing sites can be running projects with our Process Innovation Team. All projects contribute to improving either efficiency, safety, product quality or sustainability. For example: 

  • Reducing CO2 emissions, contributing to our decarbonisation strategy.
  • Recycling water used across sites.
  • Deploying more sustainable processes in manufacturing.

Case study: Digitalisation in manufacturing

We can see the potential of big data, robotics, analytics and the Internet of Things to drive manufacturing excellence and contribute to our right first time agenda. We have several projects running to explore the potential of these tools and how we might quickly scale them across the group. This work is laying the foundations for digital integration between factory floor and supply chain, with improved resource efficiency a key output.

Sustainability

Sustainability spans every area of our business and is a crucial way we add value to our customers.

Our Innovation Centre at global headquarters Cowick Hall

Smart science

Innovation drives us to achieve our Purpose, from the ingredients we create and how we operate, to the natural, renewable raw materials that we use.