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.

Innovation has always been the key to BASF’s success. The knowledge and skills of our highly qualified employees are 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 R&D 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.

Research and development expenses by segment 2023


Our innovation focus is on developing new products, solutions and product improvements that offer our customers competitive and sustainability advantages. By helping them to reduce their carbon footprint, use resources more efficiently, or manufacture products in a more environmentally friendly way and recycle them, we 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 R&D activities. In the long term, we aim to further increase sales and earnings with new and improved products – especially with products that make a substantial sustainability contribution in the value chain.

Our R&D 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 R&D 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 or biotechnological methods.

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.
For more information see low-carbon production processes

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 attest to our power of innovation 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.

For more information on our academic research alliances, see BASF Report 2023

Last Update May 27, 2024