Innovation in Elkem

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Future oriented and ambitious innovation strategy has been the foundation for Elkem’s development and success throughout more than 110 years. Ever since Sam Eyde established Elkem in 1904 our core activity has been to develop new products, markets and production methods.

Elkem’s innovation strategy covers both incremental innovation and step-change innovation. The core of Elkem Business System is continuous improvement. By always looking for improvement potentials, and using EBS tools to describe the potential, find solutions and measure results, Elkem achieves progress that keeps it equipped to meet future challenges.

However, to keep our position as a world-leading producer of silicon and carbon-based materials Elkem must also seek step change innovation and radical improvements.

Fig. 1: The relationship between incremental innovation and radical innovation. 

Innovation as part of the corporate strategy

In Elkem we set innovation targets to achieve our strategic goals. The four most important areas for step change innovation or radical improvements are:

  • New or improved products and services
  • Fundamentally new production methods and processes that achieve improved quality, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, safety for people or equipment and reduced emissions
  • Development of new sources of raw materials
  • Innovative new ways of working, both in sales, marketing and production

In today’s fast-moving world, the complexity of technological solutions and level of market integration makes collaboration increasingly important for successful innovation. Identifying potential partners and synergies, business cluster cooperation and close relationships with customers, suppliers, research institutions, government authorities and financial markets is therefore an integral part of Elkem’s innovation strategy.

Internal prerequisites for innovation

Elkem’s development has always been based on world-class in-house expertise within our core competences: metallurgical high temperature processes, furnace operations, material characterisation and chemical analysis.

Elkem employs a significant number of R&D staff with close collaboration with both Norwegian and international research institutions forms a pivotal part of the competence needed to reach our innovation targets.

Many of our most successful research-based innovations have come from research programmes in cooperation with universities, research institutes and industry partners, with support from the Norwegian Research Council. By developing new and fundamental understanding of the raw materials, processes, products and EHS aspects of production, new solutions that benefit the entire Elkem organisation are developed.

Open innovation

Elkem continues to move our production towards ever more specialised solutions and products. Ideas for new products often emerge in meetings where our technical specialists, researchers and production managers meet with the customer to find solutions together. By continuously looking for ways to improve the product for the customer, focusing on quality rather than just cost, we create lasting value for the end user.

Elkem is always looking for new ideas and partners. Collaboration and joint R&D activities have already been implemented with our Silicones division, and with several customers within the solar segment.

If you and your company have ideas that may be of interest to Elkem, please contact us. We are always interested in discussing new technology, products or business opportunities.