Growth through ingenuity and enterprise
A 3M United Kingdom case study

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Page 2: A century of innovation

3M has been in business for 100 years. In 1902, five young entrepreneurs founded the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. However, the mineral deposit they had planned to mine proved to be useless so they had to 'think again'. They turned to buying in the mineral necessary to manufacture sandpaper, and their ingenuity and enterprise saved the company and laid the foundations for an entrepreneurial spirit that has shaped the company to this present day.

From this shaky start, 3M has maintained a flow of groundbreaking inventions ever since. The company now manufactures and markets more than 50,000 different products for industrial, commercial, health care and consumer markets in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Innovative organisations are able to spot and respond to market opportunities. They identify consumer needs, and then develop appropriate products, eg the Post-it® Note. Product development involves a range of processes, from refining an original design idea to the final delivery of a marketable product.

The innovation story at 3M is one of ingenuity and enterprise;

of turning ideas into commercial reality and building a strong, sustainable business.

3M focuses its ingenuity on finding practical solutions to help its customers succeed. Many of its first breakthroughs were created for 3M's business clients in what was then a new motor car industry. Early innovative products included WetordryTM sandpaper, followed by Scotch® Masking Tape in 1925.

During the 20th century the company went on to build a strong capability in developing technologies, working closely with customers to anticipate and understand their needs. The company's strong culture of innovation enabled it to achieve many breakthroughs, ranging from Scotch® Transparent Tape and the Post-it® Note, to up-to-the-minute fibre optic cables and a new type of pharmaceutical which today is helping fight virus infected cells and tumour cells.

3M United Kingdom | Growth through ingenuity and enterprise