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Future technologies

Innovation and the development of new and advanced technologies are at the core of our business. But innovation is not just about new technologies: it is about finding new ways of thinking and advancing work with partners.

Students of the North East Scotland College, UK (photo)
Students of the North East Scotland
College participating in the
Tomorrow’s Engineers programme.
Aberdeen, UK.

Shell is one of the largest investors in research and development among international oil and gas companies. In 2014, we spent more than $1.2 billion on research and development (R&D) which includes the development of cleaner and alternative energy technologies. Since 2009 around $1 billion of our R&D investment has been in lower-carbon technologies.

We operate a global network of 10 R&D centres, close to our main markets and production sites. These include three major technology hubs, located in India, the Netherlands, and the USA. Around 5,500 scientists and technical specialists work at these hubs on a broad spectrum of projects, such as turning natural gas into more efficient and cleaner fuels, and improving water management and energy efficiency in our operations.

Bringing ideas into Shell

$1.2 BILLIONApproximate R&D spend in 2014

50Ideas selected by GameChanger in 2014

Shell innovates in a number of ways. We have an array of different tools, programmes, partners and funding methods to help us develop new ideas and better technologies, faster and more cost effectively. Our longest established programmes – for nearly 100 years now – are research partnerships with universities and research institutes. These currently include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA, Imperial College in the UK and Tsinghua University in China.

Other examples of how we develop new technologies are our GameChanger, Shell Technology Ventures (STV) and Shell TechWorks programmes: GameChanger identifies and nurtures unproven ideas that have the potential to impact the future of energy; STV is our corporate-venturing arm which invests in companies to accelerate the development of innovations in the energy sector to meet future energy demand; and Shell TechWorks aims to quicken the deployment of new technologies by collaborating with a wide range of partners in global innovation hot spots.

Inspiring tomorrow’s engineers

In 2014, Shell announced an investment of over £1 million in Tomorrow’s Engineers, a programme across the UK that seeks to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The programme, which supports students aged 11–14 years, aims to increase the number of people that study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and ultimately pursue a STEM career.

STEM skills are vital to economies and to Shell’s businesses. These skills are critical to meeting the future demand for energy, to drive innovation and to support the UK economy. It is estimated that, each year, the UK has a shortfall of over 55,000 people with engineering skills in its workforce. Shell’s support of Tomorrow’s Engineers will help the programme reach over 650 new schools in the next three years, offering students practical engineering experience and helping them to understand the opportunities in pursuing a technical career.