R&D & innovation

As an innovation focused biosolutions provider, R&D is of great importance to Novozymes' success. Accordingly, some of our focus areas include knowledge management and employee creativity, bioethics, utilization of genetic resources and others.


Novozymes is an innovation-driven company. More than 20% of our global workforce works in R&D, and annually we spend around 14% of revenue on R&D. The focus is to ensure continuous development of our existing product portfolio while expanding the use of our technology by developing new concepts for new applications. Furthermore, we devote a significant part of our resources to long-term radical innovation in order to ensure our long-term growth. Novozymes has a solid track record of delivering new products and concepts to the market with more than 75 product/concept introductions over the last 10 years. We strive to introduce 6-8 new products/concepts a year. We currently hold more than 7,000 granted or pending patents. Read more about driving innovation and Bioinnovation.

Initiatives & activities   

Knowledge management

  • Patenting & registration: Novozymes currently holds more than 7,000 granted or pending patents. Novozymes’ Regulatory Affairs function is interacting with local industry associations and regulatory bodies in order to create transparent legal systems for enzymes and to support a broad acceptance of biotechnology and contained use of GM enzymes.
  • Pipeline Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) (scroll down on page): In order to further promote the CO2 reduction potential of our products in the pipeline, all new discovery and development projects in R&D must undergo a "mini life cycle assessment," known as pipeline LCA. Pipeline LCAs are based on assumptions concerning the production of the enzyme together with its impacts and effectiveness during use. Pipeline LCAs provide information on the carbon value of the new products and thus strengthen our opportunities to further improve the environmental performance of Novozymes’ products.  
  • Innovation management: In order to manage, trace, and share the enormous quantity of ideas, information, learning, research data, etc., we have consolidated all our databases and local data into one single database covering the entire R&D workflow from soil samples to samples for customers. Novozymes has developed and implemented an electronic lab notebook (ELN) in our R&D organization. By taking traditional lab notebooks online, Novozymes is improving our global knowledge-sharing and patenting process.
  • Encouragement of employee creativity: A high percentage of employees are involved in innovation, formally or informally. Novozymes' innovation network consists of 300 people from across business units. Subgroups of the network meet on an ad hoc basis. Novozymes' general principle is that all scientists have 10% of their work time allocated to pursue personal ideas (science managers 30% and science directors 50%).


  • Gene technology/Genetically Modified Microorganisms (GMMs): Novozymes supports the safe and sustainable use of gene technology in industrial processes, agriculture, and health care. Novozymes finds that gene technology offers a variety of benefits that can contribute to a sustainable development of society. Novozymes uses GMMs in the production of enzymes. However, an efficient separation process means that the final enzyme product does not contain any GMMs and is not considered a GMO. The enzymes are produced by fermentation of genetically modified micro organisms (the production strain), which then produce the desired enzyme. The process takes place under well-controlled conditions in closed fermentation tank installations. See also our position on Antibiotic resistance genes in genetically modified microorganisms.
  • Animal testing: Novozymes' position on animal testing commits the company to i) refine, reduce, and replace animal testing, ii) to use animals only when no alternative exists, iii) to provide training for employees and to engage with stakeholders. Furthermore, an internal Science Ethics Committee ensures compliance with Novozymes' policies, and reviews and approves all internal and external animal studies. Novozymes’ ultimate goal is to eliminate the use of animal testing, but at present animal testing is required by legal authorities as a precondition for product registration. In 2007, Novozymes received an award from the animal rights organization PETA for our work on developing alternatives to animal testing.
  • Synthetic biology: Novozymes considers that a definition of the term “synthetic biology” must allow for a distinction between the continuing development of “traditional” genetic engineering tools and synthetic biology aiming at generating new life forms. In the light of this, Novozymes has chosen to consider synthetic biology as activities that relate to either one or both of the following:
  • 1) The design of minimal cells/organisms (including minimal genomes) that are not derived from existing natural sources; 2) the construction or creation of a totally new organism leading to artificial biological systems, using techniques such as genomics and bioinformatics. Novozymes acknowledges that synthetic biology takes research to completely new levels, but we do not see any technical or commercial need for or benefits of using synthetic biology for “designing life from scratch.” We recognize the power of synthetic biology as a research tool and support the use of synthetic biology for academic purposes. In our own research we will continue to build on further developments that are derived from solutions found in nature.
  • Novozymes supports the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in terms of "the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources" in the sense that Novozymes has entered into various partnerships on utilization of genetic resources. Example is partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service on biodiversity R&D.


Management system & guidelines 

Our environmental and bioethics policy commits Novozymes to support global sustainable development through environmentally sound products, environmental impact reduction, reduced resource use, environmental management systems, safe handling of micro-organisms, cooperation with suppliers and other stakeholders, regular performance reporting, and to a life cycle approach for pipeline and new products.
Organization: Novozymes’ corporate R&D organization is located at eight global sites, each site representing a certain set of skills and competencies. Novozymes’ organizational structure and working methods have been designed to create the optimal environment for innovation. In 2009 a new Innovation Office was set up to manage the front-end pipeline across our businesses, and a number of interactive forums have been created.
Novozymes' Radical Innovation Catalysts (RIC) is a cross-functional group collaboration for idea qualification involving 40 people across functions over a period of one year. The focus is on ideas outside current strategic focus with radical innovation potential. The RIC team is responsible for getting business project ideas qualified before entering the front-end phase of the project management system.
Novozymes' Science Ethics Commitee (SEC) is responsible for ensuring that Novozymes' projects are always in compliance with high ethical standards, for example that experimental procedures involving humans or animals are in compliance with internal and external requirements.
Innovation methodology: Novozymes works with a range of methodologies related to innovation. One is the MTOR process: Market, Technology, Organization, Resources – for facilitating a learning-based approach to "high uncertainty projects." The methodology is integrated across the organization. Novozymes’ Project Management platform “ProMan” is a cross-organizational group responsible for managing development projects, managing global project information, and providing support to project leaders for New Lead, Discovery, and Optimization projects.

Targets & KPIs

  • R&D/revenue around 14%
  • 6-8 product launches per year
  • Number of active patent families
  • Number of animals for testing per year