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OUR APPROACH TO GROWING INNOVATION
  Our Guiding Principle: Drive sustainability in our innovation efforts.
Our Goal: Increase revenue derived from products that create a sustainability advantage.

A CORE VALUE – INNOVATING FOR THE FUTURE


FMC has mapped our core capabilities to five global challenges (right).

By focusing on these five global trends – environmental consciousness, scarce resources, climate change, land competition, and food and health expectations – we have developed a common framework for our businesses to assess which products and services create a sustainability advantage. More than challenges, however, we see these shifts as clear opportunities to serve our customers’ needs and drive demand for solutions FMC is uniquely capable of providing. 

Read more about our approach to growing innovation in the 2013 Sustainability Report.

FMC uses five major global challenges to prioritize our sustainability efforts and keep us focused on developing solutions for the future.  


Read about five Guiding Principles and related Goals for sustainability at FMC

 

Experience the complete 2013 Sustainability Report


Sustainable change THROUGH innovation


By 2015, we intend to focus at least 50 percent of our research and development (R&D) spend to address these societal needs. We believe this intentional investment focus will amplify our ability to create shared value as these trends become increasingly important to our customers, our communities and each of our businesses.

Product Innovations: Assessing Sustainability Advantages from Concept to Market

To facilitate our goal of increasing R&D investments focused on the five identified global challenges, we have adjusted our process to bring new products from concept to reality.  
Illustrative example of assessment chart from FMC new product development process.
 We have defined a “product that creates a sustainability advantage” as one that provides a measurable improvement over existing market solutions – by addressing at least one of the five identified market-shaping shifts – without retreating in performance against any of the others. We then charged each of our businesses with the responsibility to develop an assessment tool that would hold us accountable to our definition. These criteria spur new ideas and allow clear, consistent evaluation of product potential. Most importantly, they enable richer conversations with our customers during the product development phase, as many are attempting to create offerings that answer these same market trends.

Such sustainability-driven process improvements enable us to identify and advance projects that create a sustainability advantage more quickly, while imposing a higher burden of proof on projects that are counter to our sustainability objectives. We are excited about the resulting opportunities for growth and the social impact we can effect with this focused approach. This effort will help to ensure a robust development pipeline to support the continued growth of FMC.

 

Feeding a growing world

Increased food production and more nutritious foods are essential as the world’s population continues to grow. In fact, the United Nations has estimated that the world’s agricultural output must double in the next 20 to 301 years to meet the rising demand for food.

FMC is addressing sustainability throughout the food chain in many ways. Our agricultural solutions help growers increase yields by protecting crops from harvest-robbing pests and diseases. Our food ingredient products help preserve the quality of foods. 

Crop Protection 

Even with today’s available technologies, weeds and pests destroy as much as 40 percent of the world’s crops annually.2 One of the best solutions for sustaining the global food supply is to help farmers increase yields on existing land and reduce their crop losses. Such solutions provide an economic benefit to the farmer while increasing overall agricultural output. At the heart of such solutions are chemistries for crop protection, where FMC plays a vital role.

In the past five years, FMC introduced almost 500 new agricultural solutions products  to help farmers do more with less. We continue our work on new formulations to satisfy society’s evolving needs while delivering higher levels of safety for farmers, consumers and the environment.

1http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/gaef3242.doc.htm
2http://www.croplifeamerica.org/crop-protection/benefits/increase-food-production


TecnoCalda - Managing Products Responsibly in Brazil

Large farms in Brazil can take advantage of our TecnoCalda program, an integrated solution for managing crop protection products at large agribusiness operations in an increasingly safe, secure and efficient manner. Depending on customer needs, FMC can customize any or all of the system components:

  • Bulk storage of the products
  • Spray tank preparation and equipment loading
  • Equipment cleaning
  • Waste management (both product and packaging)
  • Dedicated spray mix distribution trucks and/or aircraft
The program assists growers on a number of fronts, by helping them protect workers, communities and soil with safe storage, precise mixing, responsible cleanup, and material recycling. In a cost-sensitive business, the TecnoCalda program’s efficiencies also help farmers improve their economic sustainability. In some cases FMC helps farmers finance their investment in the program.

Natural Ingredients 

A rapidly growing middle class is demanding more nutritious foods and increased convenience. To satisfy these consumer expectations, FMC is exploring ways to supply more food ingredients that are both sustainable and renewable. With over 68 years of experience in the business, our expertise helps customers around the world maintain their competitive position in the market using natural ingredients and colors. In addition to addressing consumer preferences, we help our customers use these products to increase the amount of protein in affordable foods and reduce requirements for refrigeration in the supply chain.

As part of a strategic expansion of our natural ingredients business, FMC made three acquisitions that enhance our natural food ingredient product portfolio:

  • South Pole Biogroup Ltda., a Chilean-based natural color and specialty nutrition ingredients supplier.
  • Phytone Ltd., a leading natural colors producer based in the United Kingdom.
  • Pectine Italia, a leading Italian-based manufacturer of pectin, a biopolymer extracted from lemon peels that customers use to gel or thicken foods like jams or fruit juices.
FMC works alongside our customers to better serve local markets through 11 food laboratories in strategic locations around the world. FMC has opened food labs in Singapore, Chile, India and Russia to support the growing demand in rapidly developing economies. This diversity of research locations enables us to provide customers with unique chemistries and customized solutions that align with local consumer demand, while adding value to the innovation process through the exchange of ideas and outcomes between the labs.

BETTER PACKAGING FOR OUR PRODUCTS - GREEN JUG JUGGERNAUT

FMC Brazil has expanded its sustainable packaging line for agricultural products. Derived from sugar cane and other renewable resources, FMC’s “Green Family” of containers is growing:

  • The breakthrough Green Jug drum is manufactured in a way that generates 40 percent less greenhouse gases than traditional packaging.
  • The stackable JoinJug offers a space-saving option for warehouses, eliminating the use of traditional packaging materials and reducing the number of fuel-burning truck miles.
Development of the Green Family is just the beginning of a larger process to identify FMC locations where the use of bio-plastic packaging makes sense for our customers and their supply chain requirements. To that end, we continue to invite customers to suggest new ideas for packaging and shipping.

Where traditional plastic containers are still in use, FMC is helping to reduce their impact by using containers made from recycled materials. We were the first in the industry to package our products in 20-liter jugs made from 85 percent recycled plastic. Working with others in our industry, we help farmers reduce disposal costs by collecting used containers from farms and delivering them to a recycling plant.

 

PROCESS INNOVATION 




Innovations in Solution Mining

At our Green River, Wyoming, site, FMC dry mines approximately 4.5 million tons of trona ore from 1,6OO feet underground. We also solution mine the equivalent of 2 million tons of additional trona using secondary recovery techniques in old dry mines, employing innovative mining methods to maintain the long-term sustainability of this mineral resource.

Over the last several decades, we have led the industry in pioneering dry, long wall and solution mining techniques. We continue to pursue mining methods that are safer, more energy efficient and better for the environment. To maintain our industry leadership, we have invested $13 million  in a pilot project using directional drilling techniques for technologically advanced solution mining. Initial research shows this patent-pending process improves sustainability by reducing process greenhouse gas emissions by over 25 percent, and has the potential to salvage billions of additional tons of trona that might otherwise be left behind.

PUTTING A CHARGE IN ENERGY RESEARCH

The Salt That's Shaking Up Our Energy Future

Our Center for Lithium Energy Advanced Research (CLEAR) is the only facility focused on lithium chemistry innovation within a battery cell. Here, FMC scientists and engineers develop new product concepts, such as our Stabilized Lithium Metal Powder (SLMP®), that are creating step change improvements to electric vehicles’ travel range and battery life.

FMC’s lithium resources and proprietary lithium technology are helping to usher in a new generation of vehicle batteries. Lithium, the lightest metal, stabilized in ultrapure salt compounds, has the ability to store and release energy in a manner that is unsurpassed by any other known material. Used to assist or replace the internal combustion engine, lithium batteries can help reduce carbon emissions and dependence on oil. As such, it is making the vision of electric vehicles (EVs) a reality.

FMC has been developing lithium ion battery technology since 1991. The technology is used in portable electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and power tools. In recent years, this technology has enabled the development of a broad range of hybrid electric and full electric vehicles. Today we are the second largest supplier of lithium in the world, and the world’s number one supplier of lithium hydroxide and lithium chloride used in rechargeable and non-rechargeable battery applications respectively.

At the heart of FMC’s lithium sustainability story is our knowledge and patented technologies related to the efficient production of high purity lithium products. Higher purity means more robust performance: an extra hour of power or an added year of battery life – both critical for EVs to replace today’s conventional vehicles.

RESearch that never sleeps

To strengthen engagement with and responsiveness to customers, we have “localized” much of our R&D function. We work directly with customers around the world to understand their concerns and then develop customized solutions based on their input. Explore our diverse global research network locations on the map below.

 

A Bigger Innovation Footprint - FMC's Asia Innovation Center

Over 40 percent of FMC sales come from rapidly developing economies around the world. One of the largest is China, where we opened an Asia Innovation Center in May 2014 . Located in Shanghai, the center accelerates FMC’s ability to tailor products for the entire region while developing new technologies that can be used globally.

The new center serves as our regional hub for research and development, technical innovation, operational support and executive management. By bringing together 200 FMC scientists, engineers and technicians who currently work in separate facilities, the center will create new opportunities for sharing ideas, combining resources and accelerating innovation. At the same time, it will reduce our footprint by consolidating operations.

We will also use the new facility to further enhance our strong collaboration with customers in pursuit of technologies that will improve their products and sustainability. These and other capabilities will help FMC attract top talent and strengthen partnerships with local cooperative enterprises, academic institutions, industry organizations, governments and the community as a whole.