Innovation is a key driver of Bekaert’s technological leadership. Our activities in this field are aimed at creating value for our customers in order for our business, and all our stakeholders, to prosper in the long term. We co-create with customers and suppliers around the globe to develop, implement, upgrade and protect both current and future technologies. Listening to our customers and understanding how our products function within their production processes and products is key to developing value-creating solutions.
Transforming steel wire and applying unique coating technologies form our core business. To strengthen our technological leadership in these competencies, Bekaert invests intensively in research and development, and sees innovation as a constant, driving factor in all our activities and processes.
In 2015 the Bekaert Technology Center celebrated its 50 year anniversary. Half a century of constant commitment to R&D has been a source of inspiration and encouragement for our customers, our suppliers and our operations to help us succeed in our non-stop search to improve and innovate. Throughout the years, strong alliances have also been established with universities and research institutes around the globe.
In early April 2015 Geert Van Haver was appointed Chief Technology Officer. Geert joined the Bekaert Group in 1982 and has taken up management positions in Belgium, Brazil, Turkey and China. Geert Van Haver is a member of the Bekaert Group Executive since early 2014. Bekaert’s technology centers pursue value creation by optimizing process technologies and by developing steel wire solutions that drive growth and leadership for our customers.
Innovation in practice: continuously redeploying our core competencies
In order to sustain and strengthen our technological leadership, we continue to explore new possibilities in steel wire transformation and coating technologies. Even after 135 years of expertise, there is still much to be discovered in our search for the optimal bulk and surface properties of steel wire.
Innovation in a nutshell:
- In 2015 we invested € 65 million in R&D.
- An international team of 416 R&D specialists works on customer-driven research projects.
- There are 2 main Technology Centers, one in Belgium and one in China, and various development centers worldwide.
- We acknowledge the importance of innovation: 39 first patent applications were filed in the course of 2015.
- IP protection applies mainly to products and brands, but also to processes and equipment. Bekaert successfully stopped several infringements to patents through litigation over the course of 2015.
- We co-create specific products and solutions together with customers in exclusive development projects. Successful IP protection makes Bekaert a trusted partner of its customers around the world.