Why is DuPont so explicitly linking innovation and sustainability?
Linda: This isn’t something wholly new, but rather, the logical evolution of a process we started several years ago, when we began to more intentionally embed sustainability into our business strategy. We believed then—as we do now—that for a company as focused as ours is on harnessing the power of science to address global challenges, strengthening the linkages between innovation and sustainability makes good sense. That includes every step of the innovation process, including R&D.
How does the 2020 Sustainable Innovation Goal relate to the company’s previous goals on making and providing sustainable solutions for its customers?
Linda: This builds on our previous goal to double our R&D investment in products with quantifiable environmental benefits. We exceeded that goal and since 2007 have invested approximately $5 billion in R&D programs that will deliver environmental benefits. As a result, we challenged ourselves to set the bar higher and do even more to embed sustainability in our innovation portfolio. The result was this new Sustainable Innovation Goal that has as its ultimate aim to further guide our choices in favor of products that promote a healthier, safer and more sustainable world. We will track our progress and measure the quantifiable benefits of our major growth innovations. Of course, this is a goal, and we have to recognize that there may be products that offer societal value not directly related to safety, health or sustainability. But our aim is to challenge every innovation to contribute in these areas.
Practically-speaking, how will this goal be realized?
Douglas: For science-based companies like DuPont, innovations are the result of a complex, multi-stage process that starts with customer needs, continues through early stage discovery, development and ultimately through launch and commercialization. Throughout each of these steps, myriad decisions are made about allocation of resources, prioritization of projects and market viability. Now, we will add to this mix the potential for our pipeline products to contribute to a safer, healthier and more sustainable world, as an explicit criterion in our decision process for major growth innovations. We’re embedding it in the hearts and minds of people all across our company, including those who are responsible for turning promising ideas into innovative solutions.