DSM - Giant-alpecin innovation partnership

Within the quest for faster and faster innovation, DSM has been a pioneer of so-called ‘Open Innovation’ methodologies: creative partnerships at every phase of the way from invention to market. For many years a collaboration with the Dutch Olympic Team had been one of the publicly visible projets within this realm.
With the strong internationalization of the company – both regarding its own locations as well as its primary markets – a need across to find a more globally fitting alternative.

For this we designed a new approach, selecting a single more globally popular sports and leisure activity: cycling. The charming advantage of cycling is that it not only encompassed high performance athletic activities, yet at the same time represents a low threshold leisure activity for people throughout the world. In addition, bicycles for personal and even low volume goods form the most sustainable transportation alternative, fitting excellently with the strong sustainability image of the company.

In 2015 the innovation partnership between DSM and ‘World Tour Team’ Giant-Alpecin was launched, where DSM provided new products both in the field of nutritional ingredients as well as high performance materials to the team in return for promotional exposure for these innovations.

The primary activity in the first year was the development of protective cycling shorts. One of the biggest dangers for professional cyclists is a high velocity crash on the road – the accompanying ‘road rash’, severe abrasion of the skin, is very painfull and will cost the rider much energy in recovering, the days, sometimes weeks after a fall. Very often a severe crash leads to a rider needing to abandon a multi-day race in the days following the accident. Within the partnership we developed high performance protective biking shorts, using the company’s super-string Dyneema fiber, smartly applied in a way that the new fabric maintained full stretch-ability, yet would protect a rider effectively in a crash.

The newprotective shorts were introduced at the start of the Tour de France in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The Tour de France is the primary cycling event in the year with enormous, world-wide media exposure. Having the start in Utrecht, a city in the hearth of DSM’s home-country, proved an oppurtunity almost too good to be true for the launch of the exciting new product – and enabling the project team to draw both nation-wide as well as world-wide attention to the innovation partnership.

During the 2015 edition of the Tour de France indeed a massive group-crash occured. The shorts proved to be doing their work in an excellent way: one of the Team Giant-Alpecin riders ended up with a road-rash on almost his entire body……, except at the places where the protective fabric was used. It resulted in massive media attention and requests from cyclists worldwide.

Currently most professional cycling teams use the protective fabric in their clothing that was introduced in the DSM-Giant-Alpecin Innovation partnership. 
Later in the year the development also received professional recognition through a Eurobike award for the partnership.

The Partnership has further evolved – now branded as the DSM – Team Sunweb innovation partnership, it features collaborations in the team’s apparel, bikes as well as nutritional ingredients, even sunscreen. With this breadth it is one of the most impactful innovation partnerships in this sports.

DSM-cycling: See Here.