Product design through research and development
A Syngenta case study

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Page 2: New product development

New product development (NPD) is the process which identifies, develops and tests new product opportunities. Firms may develop new products for a number of reasons. These include:

  • replacing declining products
  • adding to the current portfolio
  • filling a gap in the market
  • maintaining competitive advantage
  • competing with rivals' products
  • attracting new customers.

Some businesses seek to develop new products because they face certain challenges that are specific to the industry in which they operate. The reputation, survival and growth of organisations can depend on new products being brought onto the market.

Finding out what customers want

Syngenta uses market research techniques with growers and farmers to find out about the problems they are facing and the types of solutions they are looking for. One of the challenges facing Syngenta is the growing demand for new crop protection products to increase yields.

Syngenta takes a long term view of the challenges it faces. It has to predict what farmers and agricultural businesses will need in 10 years time and beyond. This involves predicting changes in environmental conditions, e.g. hotter, wetter climates or more widespread droughts. In addition, there is increasing customer demand. Syngenta's research centres use an ongoing cycle of testing new chemicals on soils and plants in conditions that reflect particular countries or climate zones. New products emerge from a combination of market-orientated and product-orientated innovation.

Syngenta seeks to provide a stream of new products based on emerging technologies. These provide innovation in crop protection as well as new varieties of crops. At the same time, existing varieties of established crops need to be protected from disease and pests. Syngenta has therefore created treatments to protect the crops, as well as developing new varieties of seeds that have in-built resistance.

The R&D process

Syngenta's research and development process follows specific stages. In some industries, product testing occurs only at the end of the process before launch. With Syngenta products, testing (screening) happens at every stage of the process.

It is necessary to evaluate the potential of every chemical in this long and expensive development process. It takes Syngenta scientists up to 10 years to develop a new crop protection product. The company typically spends around $200 million (£120 million) on developing a new product.

Syngenta | Product design through research and development