When Corbion was looking to consolidate its U.S. headquarters into one building, collaboration and innovation were at the center of the conversation. From capabilities in the laboratories to the open design of the workspaces, the new headquarters supports Corbion’s mission to continuously innovate in support of its customers’ goals.
“We constantly encourage our employees and our customers to ‘Keep creating,’ because the world urgently needs better solutions to the challenges we face,” says Andy Muller, executive vice-president at Corbion. “The innovations we help create make a difference in the lives of people everywhere, people just like us.”
The 15,000-square-foot headquarters in Lenexa provides office space and laboratories designed to give customers access to Corbion’s scientific expertise. A meat lab mirrors the one in Corbion’s world headquarters in The Netherlands to improve speed to market for new products and to better serve customers on a global scale. An analytical chemistry lab enables Corbion to determine the molecular composition of foods, and the facility houses a microbiology lab for testing shelf life and pathogen control solutions. There is also a small-scale dry blending facility for creating ingredient blends and supporting the company’s milling business. The emulsifier synthesis lab has everything needed to create emulsifiers on a smaller scale for testing.
Bakers, specifically, can take advantage of the innovation center’s full-scale baking laboratory complete with a bakery analysis area for assessing the physical properties of doughs or batters as well as finished products. The baking lab is divided with bread and rolls on one side and sweet goods on the other. Corbion fashioned it to operate as close to a working bakery as possible. Its capabilities run the gamut and include batch and continuous mixers, rack and hearth ovens, a dough sheeter, fryer, and a bun divider. Bakers can test a range of products including yeast-leavened baked foods, bagels, tortillas, sponge-and-dough products, and pizzas.
In the bakery analysis lab, customers’ doughs and batters can be tested for properties such as extensibility, viscosity, flowability, and gas retention while finished products can be assessed for their texture, moisture, volume, color, and pH. All these capabilities enable Corbion to help bakers find the right solution for their products’ needs whether that’s improved texture and shelf life, a cleaner ingredient list, or all of the above.
The Innovation Center also features a characterization lab full of analytical equipment for measuring physical and chemical properties and a wet lab with wash-down capabilities for pilot-scale testing of new emulsifier products. Corbion also included a multi-purpose food lab/demonstration kitchen where the company’s solutions can be incorporated into food products, and sensory tests can be conducted so Corbion’s experts can collaborate with customers.
The rest of the Innovation Center’s office space and conference rooms as well as the multi-purpose demonstration kitchen also are designed to encourage collaboration. Conference rooms are partitioned off with glass walls that can be used as white boards to keep ideas flowing. The office space is an open-design plan to prevent teams from siloing. Kathy Sargent, strategic innovation director, bakery, said this will provide opportunities for different teams to incorporate their expertise into new areas.
“We focused on freshness and conditioning for a long time, but I’m excited to bring the fermentation capability we have to bakery in a strong way,” Sargent says. “Our expertise in lactic acid and fermentation isn’t new, but in this new space we can focus on innovation and customer solutions across departments. When we can find those synergies, it’s powerful.”
While the main focus of Corbion’s new innovation center is to spur collaboration, the company’s commitment to sustainability is also evident. Trash bins are minimal throughout the building, as the company moves toward a goal of producing zero waste. The cafeteria features only compostable utensils, and almost everything is recyclable. Solar panels on the roof provide the building’s power.
With the new U.S. headquarters and Innovation Center, Corbion makes a statement about its commitment to sustainability, collaboration, and innovation.