We shared our ideas on meeting future challenges through knowledge development at a gathering to discuss industrial progress through R&D and innovation.
The conference at Norway's Herøya Industrial Park in Porsgrunn featured presentations on this topic from Yara and SINTEF, the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia, followed by a question and answer session with the wide range of the Industrial Park's clients and partners in attendance. Not a coincidence - Herøya Industrial Park hosts of one of the largest industrial clusters in Norway, of which Yara is the largest player. A founding father of the Industrial Park, Hydro/Yara has been present since 1928.
R&D is the answer
"How can Yara compete internationally with our products? The answer is research and development. And we are concentrating especially on three areas - product added value, environmental improvements, and client partnerships," Yara’s Chief Financial Officer, Torgeir Kvidal, told the gathering.
Kvidal, who was Yara’s representative at the meeting, said, "I enjoy talking about Yara, and the stories told were at the heart of Yara's business model. I believe the event went well, with interesting feedback and questions."
"We can play an important role in solving essential problems like food security and emission reductions, and innovation is a necessity to solve these challenges - and to continue to prosper as a company," the CFO added.
3 global megatrends
Kvidal highlighted three central global megatrends that are part of Yara's daily challenges - a growing world population with increasing nutritional demands, urbanization and poverty. Meeting these requires a broader perspective. "In 2010 we began to focus more on R&D and the interactivity between researchers, factory workers and sales personnel gives good results," Torgeir told the audience.
"We produce simple chemical compounds and to a great extent deliver the same products we did a hundred years ago - how can we extract more value from this?" he asked the crowd.
"Quality, efficient production and a brand that has market confidence - these are some of the reasons," he answered. "We don't just sell a physical product, we spread knowledge to farmers the world over," he said, before going on to list Yara technological advances, from precision farming to the N2O catalyst.
The topic also has messages for all those working at Yara.
"We should think about Innovation in a broad perspective; it is about researchers and technology, but also about new commercial solutions, partnerships, etc." he continued.
"The ideas that are generated out in the line organization, in daily challenges in our plant, and in close contact with customers, are a vital source for innovation," Torgeir argued. "These reveal underlying customer needs and match them with our current and potential future capabilities."