Innovations based on chemistry play a pivotal role in overcoming the greatest challenges of our time. Our activities are aimed at developing new products, reducing the carbon footprint of our existing products, entering new markets and further increasing our productivity. We are intensively working together with our customers on innovative products and processes for a sustainable future.

At a glance

€2.1 billion
Research and development expenses

New patents filed

·        Innovation focus on developing sustainable products and processes for our customers

·        Close cooperation with universities, research institutes and companies

·        Close cooperation between research and business units

Innovation has always been the key to BASF’s success. The knowledge and skills of our highly qualified employees is our most valuable resource and the source of our innovative strength. In 2023, approximately 10,000 employees worldwide were working in research and development (R&D).

Our research and development expenses amounted to €2,130 million in 2023 (2022: €2,298 million). R&D activities in our operating divisions, which are mainly application and customer-related, accounted for 83% of this figure. Cross-divisional and long-term topics were responsible for 17% of these expenses.

Our innovation focus is on developing new products, solutions and product improvements that offer our customers competitive and sustainability advantages. By helping them reduce their carbon footprint, use resources more efficiently and manufacture products in a more environmentally friendly way and recycle them, we also ensure our long-term competitiveness and at the same time, play a role in decoupling growth from the consumption of limited resources.

In 2023, we generated sales of around €10 billion with products launched on the market in the past five years that stemmed from research and development activities. In the long term, we aim to further increase sales and earnings with new and improved products – especially with products that make a positive sustainability contribution in the value chain.

Our research and development units explicitly address the industry-specific needs of our customers. Customer-focused activities are directly integrated into the operating divisions. Research activities that are relevant to several operating divisions are bundled in the cross-functional global division Group Research. It supports the R&D activities of our divisions and drives forward cross-divisional projects on topics relevant to the entire Group, such as avoiding CO2 emissions in chemical processes and products, energy efficiency and recycling technologies. The unit is globally positioned with research centers in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. Together with the research and development units in our operating divisions, Group Research forms the core of our global Know-How Verbund.

Additionally, we use corporate funding to finance research activities that are of broad relevance to the BASF Group and go beyond the industry-specific focus of the individual operating divisions, such as digital tools, polymer technologies, catalyst processes and biotechnological methods

Research and development expenses by segment 2023


Furthermore, we promote creative research approaches and drive forward the development of new business areas. For example, we are developing innovative coating technologies and materials that make innovative surfaces and functions possible. Functional films can be used to reduce the frictional resistance of surfaces or improve UV protection and weather resistance.

As part of our Carbon Management R&D Program, we are focusing in particular on projects at the energy-intensive starting point of the value chain. This will enable us to offer our customers even more products with a lower carbon footprint in the future.

Employees in research and development

~ 10,000

Our global research and development presence – and its effectiveness – is vital to our long-term success. This enables us to respond to the needs and requirements of the regional markets in a differentiated way, establish new customer relationships and leverage growth potential. Scientific collaborations give us access to talent, strengthen our Research and Development Verbund and make BASF an even more attractive partner and employer.

The largest and most important site in our research network is Ludwigshafen in Germany. We are currently building a new Catalyst Development and Solids Processing Center there to bring process innovations and new chemical catalysts to market faster. Startup is planned for 2024.

We are also continuing to advance our R&D activities in Asia. For instance, in mid-2023, we completed the expansion of the BASF Innovation Campus Shanghai in China, which was opened in 2012, with new laboratories for advanced materials and systems as well as for chemical engineering.

The number and quality of our patents also demonstrate our innovative power and long-term competitiveness. In 2023, we filed 1,046 new patents worldwide, of which 42.2% were for innovations with a particular focus on sustainability. The Patent Asset Index, a method that compares patent portfolios, once again ranked us among the leading companies in the chemical industry in 2023.

Our global network of top universities, research institutes and companies forms an important part of our Know-How Verbund. It gives us direct access to external scientific expertise, talented minds from various disciplines as well as new technologies. Our academic research alliances bundle partnerships with several research groups in a region or with a specific research focus.

In the United States, we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of our Northeast Research Alliance (NORA) in 2023. In the future, we want to include additional partners from across the whole of North America under a new name: the North America Open Research Alliance. NORA focuses on materials science and biosciences, catalysis research, digitalization and cooperation with startups. We are also a member of the interdisciplinary California Research Alliance (CARA). Teams at the CARA research center are working on new functional materials, formulations, digital methods, catalysis, chemical synthesis, and in engineering sciences and biosciences.

The Joint Research Network on Advanced Materials and Systems (JONAS) is active in Europe and focuses on supramolecular chemistry, polymer chemistry and sustainable technologies. We are working on innovative components and materials for electrochemical energy storage with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) at the Battery and Electrochemistry Laboratory (BELLA). At the joint Catalysis Research Laboratory (CaRLa), BASF is researching homogeneous catalysis in cooperation with the University of Heidelberg. BasCat is a joint laboratory operated by the UniCat cluster of excellence and BASF at the Technical University of Berlin, where new heterogenous catalysis concepts are being explored together with the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society. Within the British Alliance for Research and Innovation (BARI), BASF is researching with thematic clusters in chemical engineering (flow chemistry) and digitalization (crystallization, corrosion) together with Imperial College London.

At the Network for Asian Open Research (NAO) in the Asia Pacific region, research focuses on polymer and colloid chemistry, catalysis, machine learning and smart manufacturing.

The Academic Research Alliances are complemented by cooperative partnerships with around 280 universities and research institutes as well as collaborations with a large number of companies.

Last Update February 23, 2024