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Innovation management

Our approach

  • At 3M, it’s simple: we are a science-based company, and we use science to improve lives. As society’s challenges continue to evolve, so does our focus. We are relentlessly innovating and adapting our technologies to help solve the problems of today and tomorrow while driving sustainable growth for our company.

    Our customers depend on 3M’s products to advance, enhance, and improve their companies, homes, and lives — and we have a responsibility to live up to those expectations. Every item we sell must meet quality standards and must be safe for its intended use. Our commitment to innovation is governed by policies and standards that allow us to move forward with integrity, confidence, and the common foundation of 3M’s Code of Conduct.

    One of our core Technology Platforms is the Sustainable Design of our products, processes, and packaging. We demonstrate this through our goal that every new product that we offer must have a Sustainability Value Commitment (SVC). By embedding sustainability in this way, we can support 3M’s growth and advance our commitment to improving our business, our planet, and every life.

Progress toward goals

  • Icon of a checkbox checked.
    100% of our goal for:

    Require a Sustainability Value Commitment (SVC) for every new product1

  1. For projects passing a ‘gate’ in our new product commercialization process; an SVC describes how the product drives positive impact for our stakeholders in alignment with our Strategic Sustainability Framework.

Key actions in 2021

  • We invested $1.99B or nearly 5.6% of our sales into R&D.

    3M has earned more than 129,000 patents over the years, a testament to the strength of our innovation engine. Over the past five years, 3M has earned an average of nearly 4,000 patents per year.

  • Systems and processes

    We launched an integrated, centralized life cycle management system to improve our efficiency – simplifying our workflows for product regulatory and safety assessments, as well as improving environmental, health, and safety performance of our products. We also added new outcome-based key performance indicators (KPIs) to better measure our processes with the aim of assuring our products are safe and compliant wherever they are sold.

  • Product stewardship

    3M approved the Product Stewardship (PS) Significant Event Standard to define, track, and govern product stewardship incidents. The standard outlines transparent and consistent governance processes, in alignment with the Product Safety, Compliance, and Stewardship Policy, and fosters operational learning.

    Our New Product Introduction (NPI) process is used for developing products from idea to launch and incorporates our SVC in each phase of our process. In February 2021, 3M Tech Forum hosted an SVC Challenge helping our employees focus and strengthen their SVCs for the benefit of our customers.

  • State of Science Index

    Since 2018, 3M has commissioned an annual State of Science Index Survey, which explores global attitudes about science. This third-party, independent research project entered its fourth year in 2021, and spoke to 1,000 general population adults, across 17 countries around the world. The data and results are made available in an engaging and interactive digital experience.

    To supplement our State of Science Index in 2021, we also produced a four-part docuseries titled “Not The Science Type.” This in-depth look at access and gender inequity in STEM education and STEM fields features four female scientists who are challenging stereotypes and confronting gender, racial, and age discrimination as they rise to prominence.

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