From Salt To Sustainability: How Tata Chemicals Is Driving Growth On the Back Of Innovation

Based on innovation, the company aims to make next-generation science differentiated products. It develops innovative products along the vectors of sustainability, good health, food, fuel, energy, environment, water and wellness

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Necessity is the mother of invention, said Plato. When India was witnessing a surge in goiter problems, iodine was considered the immediate solution. One of the fastest ways of consuming iodine in a diet was through salt. This was the eureka moment for Tata company to pioneer the iodisation of salt. "Tata Salt was among one of the many innovations born out of necessity. Our R&D and innovation is linked with social challenges which we aim to address. We solve these problems using science-based methods," said Dr. Richard Lobo, head of innovation at Tata Chemicals.

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Tata Chemicals was set up in 1939 with a mission to serve society through science. Based on innovation, the company aims to make next-generation science differentiated products. It develops innovative products and solutions along the vectors of sustainability, good health,. food and fuel, energy and environment, water and wellness.

"Catering to the current needs of the country, we keep on innovating our solutions. Just on the salt side, we have come up with Double Fortified Salt, Low Sodium salt, which were all made based on need of the hour. Going forward, we are focusing on sustainable green chemistry, bio polymers, synthetic biology, among others. In the agri selector, we are looking at gene editing capabilities, improving bio-actives in medicinal herbs," he said, giving insight into how the company is constantly reinventing.

Furthermore, the company is now strengthening the use of IIoT (industrial Internet-of-things), AI (artificial intelligence), data analytics and technology to improve R&D capabilities.

"We are using machine learning (ML) algorithms for genomic prediction in Maize. This helps in growing better quality drought resistant crops which needs less water and gives higher yield," said Lobo, adding that the company has been recognized by industry leaders for its innovations.

Tata Chemicals has manufacturing operations in the US, Europe, Africa, India and when it comes to manufacturing challenges, it focuses on long term synergy goals and emerging customer needs. Aligned with the ESG ( environmental, social and governance) goals, the company focuses on reducing carbon footprint, leveraging green chemistry principles and improving sustainability. "Tata Chemicals has signed the science-based target pact, which emphasizes target-based reduction of carbon footprint and taking action on climate change."

The company's business is spread across food, fuel, energy, water and wellness. Each vertical has its own set of challenges. "These sectors have their own value propositions and challenges. The aim is to have a positive impact at scale. To curate a solution, we need to understand the problem at length. When we made Tata Swach, the gravity-based water purifier, the challenge was to bring down the cost to an affordable level for people living in the rural areas. Now, we are working on cutting the cost further."

The company has now ventured into its green supply chain strategy for transportation which involves process automation, is cost-effective and eco-friendly. "This can replace three million plastic bags a year. Apart from this, we also have a nutraceutical plant in Nellore, which is completely based on renewable energy. Fresh innovation insights are helping us in empowering businesses and making vital strategies."