Letter from the CEO:

Concrete actions and daring visions to change the world

Audited by PwC

We need to rethink the future. Fundamental changes are needed in the world’s energy, industrial, and agricultural sectors. Our biotechnology is ready to step in and play an important role in building a sustainable society. At Novozymes we dare to envisage our technologies changing the world. Together with our customers, we go to places where we have not been before. On this journey of exploration, we try to change mindsets and prove that cost savings and resource savings often go hand in hand.

SteenRiisgaard_portraet.jpg  In December, Copenhagen hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15). World leaders, ministers, officials, and organizations from almost 200 countries participated, and Novozymes was present on the sidelines, arranging a number of events in connection with the conference. We had high hopes, but the outcome was disappointing as no concrete targets to curb global climate change were set.

We are aware of the complexity of the challenge, but we are also convinced that business must play an important role in providing solutions to part of the challenge. Closer cooperation between governments and business would turn hope into action and pave the way for concrete, sustainable solutions.  

Dreams alone will not solve climate change issues

During the run-up to the COP15 conference a lot of dreams and ideas about climate-friendly technologies were revealed. At Novozymes we have a vision of a bio-based society where agricultural materials will replace oil as a production resource. Biotechnology can convert agricultural materials into sugar as a step toward creating environmentally friendly energy, materials, and chemicals for making our everyday products.

In the long run, we are convinced that sugar will be the new oil, but the full-scale bio-based society is still just a dream at present, and dreams alone will not solve the world’s climate change issues. If we want a better tomorrow, we need to implement existing sustainable technologies today. Biotechnology is one such technology, ready to take us toward a sustainable society. In 2009, a report from WWF concluded that industrial biotechnology can reduce CO2 emissions by 1–2.5 billion tons per year by 2030 if the existing technologies are fully deployed – so let’s get started!

Innovation will make the difference

Finding ways of substituting oil with agricultural materials is a good example of what our employees and partners can achieve together. Our ambition is to change the world together with our customers. To do that, innovation is essential, and we are continuously exploring new avenues. That is how we maintain our position as a world leader in bioinnovation.

In challenging times for the world and business, it is natural to cut back and focus on short-term results. But at Novozymes we firmly believe that our ability to innovate is the key to solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges and, at the same time, the engine that will help us regain our high sales growth. So, despite the economic downturn, we have maintained our focus and high investment level within innovation, spending around 14% of our revenue on research and development.

Growth and sustainability go hand in hand

Sustainability is an integrated part of what we do and how we do it. We expect sustainability to be an increasingly important factor in our customers’ choice of technology. Reduction of CO2 emissions is the top priority on the global agenda right now, but the focus has to be broadened as sustainability is about much more than CO2 reductions – and so are our solutions.

Sustainability is a parameter of vital importance to our partners as well as our employees. In this year’s survey of employee satisfaction, we actually surpassed the target set for 2010, among other things as a result of our continuous focus on sustainability. This year we have added new long-term sustainability targets and stretched the existing ones to reflect the diversity of our business and to put our commitment into action. For instance, we have increased our targets to improve water efficiency and renewable energy sourcing.

However, it is not only organizations that can help in solving climate change. As consumers, we can make a huge difference through the way we act. A good example is within the detergent industry, where consumers can get clean clothes, save money on their electricity bill, and help make a real difference to the environment just by turning down the temperature dial on their washing machines.

Let’s act, and help each other to change the world!


Steen Riisgaard
President and CEO

My Report
WWF report: Biotechnology is part of the solution
In September 2009, WWF published a report concluding that industrial biotechnology can produce dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and provide strong progress toward a green and sustainable economy ...
Novozymes and COP15
In December 2009, Copenhagen hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15). The conference was seen as decisive concerning solutions to meet the climate challenges facing the world. But after two weeks of intense negotiations, the 194 nations did not succeed in reaching a legally binding agreement ...