Expert Insight: Stephan Altman, Head Of Innovation Excellence At BASF

Discussing innovation as the key enabler of profitable growth across all established industries


Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London this October 19-20th, we spoke to Stephan Altman, Head of Innovation Excellence at BASF Nutrition & Health.

Stephan is an expert in Strategic Innovation Management at BASF Nutrition and Health. He is also a Professor at the University of Mannheim of Applied Sciences, teaching Strategic Management and Business Development. His current work is focused on planning and implementation of innovation. This includes the integrated planning of innovation as part of business and company strategies, the design of management tools for innovation, and process design for implementing innovation pipelines. His aim is to understand and create the key components, enabling organizations to sustainably outperform on innovation by building a robust culture of innovation in sync with the organization and its values, and drivers on the steering, as well as the execution levels.

How did you get started in your career?

A breakthrough product for the construction market required particularly end-customer focused activities to overcome market entry hurdles, although BASF is a supplier located at the beginning of the value chain. Insights gained during this endeavor made it very clear how important it is that successful innovations need to be planned through, from idea to market, including, in particular, all required resources to ensure the market success of new-to-market solutions.

What are the main components of a successful innovation strategy?

Successful innovation strategies must, first of all, be based on the business strategy of the organization. It’s ‘where to play’ is defined. The innovation strategy then contains roadmaps, describing contributions and required resources, to ensure that the ‘how to win’ contribution, in these focus areas, is well defined with respect to market trends, customer needs, product opportunities, and technology options. Such a concisely derived strategy is the core pre-requisite for precise and easy to follow communication of the summary of innovation targets to the whole organization. This is a key enabler to over time create a strong innovation culture, based on a sound understanding of the organization's needs to succeed in blue, as well as red oceans.

Is open innovation worth the risk?

Yes, continuous evaluation of open innovation options is a must - risk increases if open innovation is not sufficiently integrated / combined with into internal innovation activities.

How important is it to collaborate with the startup community? What are your thoughts on internal and external incubator programs?

In today’s business environments, companies must continue increasing the focus on core competencies. At the same time, differentiation by innovation for successful competition becomes more relevant.

Collaboration with startups is one key element in creating innovation opportunities for established organizations, beyond basic business requirements, including a focused application of limited resources.

What can delegates expect from your presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit?

The Future of Innovation in Industry: Innovation has become the key to creating profitable growth in all established industries. The models of innovation are accelerating. Open Innovation and Ecosystem thinking are two examples that are pointing towards the potential for a fully diversified innovation model. Some industries are already embracing this paradigm shift. Will innovation go all the way to fully virtual innovation players – and how fast? These, and other challenging questions will be addressed by me in my presentation, as well as in related discussions and meetings during the conference.

You can hear more from Stephan and other industry leaders at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit, taking place in London this October 19&20th.


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