The centre, located in Bingen, is the first of four innovation centres the group will open in a bid to step up its R&D capacity. The other three centres will focus on bakery fats, frozen bakery products and sweet ingredients and will be opened in Europe during the course of the year. The company has a similar set-up in the US. "The new CSM innovation centre for bakery ingredients is another important step in bolstering our ongoing focus on the market and our commitment to develop new products together with our customers," said Gerard Hoetmer, CEO of CSM. CSM is also combining its artisan support staff with the newly opened innovation centre, in order to optimise synergy within the organization. The company said: "A key benefit of this move will be co-operation with the innovation centre for bakery ingredients at Bingen. In addition, a dedicated sales force will be developed for the artisan frozen product market to take advantage of growth opportunities in this market." Partnerships with CSMThe company said its research and product development is carried out with in-depth knowledge of its customers, who include artisan bakers, industrial bakers, in-store bakeries and foodservices. CSM also works with its customers in joint developments and co-branding to provide individual solutions. Mirko Creyghton, Director Corporate Communications, told FoodNavigator.com of recent developments that include partnerships with confectionery companies, who have increasingly been making moves into the baked goods sector. Examples include producing a Rolo donut together with Nestle, and a Milka donut with Kraft. Financial set-upThe company would not reveal any details on the proportion of revenue that is invested back into R&D. In February, the company's financial results for 2007/2008 demonstrated strong sales as a result of successfully passing on increased material costs to its customers. Net sales increased over the year from €2,421m to €2,486m (at constant exchange rates: €2,596m, up 7.2 per cent). For bakery supplies in Europe net sales before exceptional items were €1,059.4m in 2007, compared to €1,041.9m in 2006. Net sales before exceptional items for bakery supplies in North America were €1,116.1m, compared to €1,084.1m in 2006.