Cosun at Work Innovation and development Innovation is essential for the development of our business groups. Within Cosun, innovation is encouraged and supported by both Cosun New Business and the scientists at the Cosun Food Technology Centre (CFTC). At CFTC, Cosun’s shared research and development centre, more than 70 professionals – from process technologists and chemical analysts to food technicians and microbiologists – work on a wide range of projects. As their work has widened over the years, the name will be changed to Cosun Research & Development (Cosun R&D) when CFTC moves to its new premises in the summer of 2017. Cosun R&D will support all the Cosun business groups’ innovations and operational management, for example by analysing and optimising their processes. It makes a demonstrable contribution to the optimal use of all vegetable raw materials with the least possible energy use. The specialists’ know-how is applied throughout the business groups.

Cosun R&D worked with all the business groups in 2016. It helped a marketing and sales department with its product development, for example, and enabled a group of colleagues to use the quality analysis evaluation system. The system helps companies work with fewer analyses while maintaining quality.

The R&D professionals are often involved in innovative projects at the business groups. Both the production processes and the applications of special sugars and Betafib, a microfibre made from beet pulp, were developed with the assistance of specialists from Cosun R&D. Engineering modelling is growing in importance in the development of production processes. Computer models are developed to help scale up pilot production runs in the laboratory to larger volumes in a demonstration factory and beyond.

The New Business & Innovation department has strengthened the environment in which innovation flourishes. Various matters were taken up and accelerated in 2016 to nurture creativity and entrepreneurship and improve the flow of knowledge and experience within Cosun. Project management and the preparation of business cases for innovation are examples of this work. The first Cosun Innovation Day was held in autumn 2016.

We expect these developments to gain momentum in the summer of 2017 when the staff of Cosun R&D, Cosun Biobased Products and Cosun New Business & Innovation move into the new Cosun Innovation Center in Dinteloord. In the first quarter of 2018 the IRS’s staff will also transfer from their current offices in Bergen op Zoom to the Cosun Innovation Center. The knowledge and experience of more than a hundred highly qualified professionals will then be concentrated at one site that can also accommodate colleagues from the Cosun business groups and associated organisations.

It is precisely because all the Cosun business groups are working on innovation that the new Innovation Center has been tasked with facilitating and encouraging cooperation and knowledge sharing across Cosun. All Cosun’s business groups share the ambition of strengthening their innovative power and shortening project lead times. The building will invite staff to seek each other out and work together, not only with the regular users but also with those who usually work elsewhere. The investment in the building and its equipment is proof of how seriously Cosun takes innovation.