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Research and Development

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Shaping tomorrow's world

With seven research centers worldwide and an annual investment of $1.5bn, our Research and Development efforts ensure that our products and services are among the best in the world.

Our R&D engineers and scientists develop breakthrough technologies that change the way the world works and industries do business. By inventing the DC Breaker fo instance, we have paved the way for an efficient transmission network and solved a 100-year-old puzzle of electrical engineering.

Research and Development at ABB:

At ABB, R&D basically happens at two stages, respecitvely in two different places within the company: at first industrial basic research in carried out in our research center; it is then followed by product development in the develomentt departments of our business units.

The working environment in our Corporate Research Center in Ladenburg near Heidelberg is shaped by internationality and teamwork. About 110 employees from all over the world work on delivering results to our internal and external costumers in a quick, reliable and cost-effective way. "Leadership through innovation" is the vision behind the mission, and that makes for over 100 publications and 50 patents a year. Strategic focus areas are plant automation, building automation, power mechatronics and services.

Our research center is not the only place that drives innovation though. At many locations throughout Germany, R&D experts in the development departments of our business units work on transforming our research center's results into concrete advantages for the users. This is where the acutal product development happens and the manufacturing process is coordinated between R&D and the other involved departments like supply chain management, production and quality management.

Our scientists and engineers work in a network that brings together ABB business units, customers, research partners, universities and research institutes; thus, the various tasks in the innovation process are carried out by the member who has the most expertise in this particular step. Typical project results, which are incorporated in the ABB products and processes by the local development departments, include prototypes, reports on new technologies and feasibility studies.

Whether you specialize in Research, Product Development, Project Management or other disciplines, you will find practically unlimited opportunities to contribute your ideas and broaden your experience. Many of our employees in R&D also pursue academic careers, lecturing or working as professors at universities, publishing research and attending conferences, while actively contributing their theoretical expertise to our projects.

Would you like to join us in shaping tomorrow's technologies? We offer you the working environment you need to take your career to the next level.

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Career paths, development and qualifications

There are three main career paths in R&D, which apply to both our research center and the development departments in our business units. As your competencies and interests evolve, we encourage you to move between them. Most of our scientists starting their career in our research center switch to our business units after a couple of years.

Functional development

Working on global projects and sharing knowledge with technical experts in universities and partner organizations, our R&D engineers and scientists have many opportunities to deepen their knowledge and to become global experts in their fields. If they want to advance further, obtaining a Ph.D. may be possible as a long-term professional qualification. 

At the entry level, you participate in product development or research projects alongside senior experts, contributing with your theoretical knowledge and creative ideas. As you build your understanding of our products and solutions, you will develop your ability to apply your expertise, working with leading professionals across the business to challenge the conventional.

As a senior technical expert, you contribute internationally, both internally and externally, guiding what we do and driving our processes. You share your expertise proactively and widely with younger engineers or scientists, graduates and higher management.

Project management

In ABB, R&D is mostly project-based; however, our projects in our research center differ from those elsewhere in our organization, due to the increased uncertainty of outcome and timing, making them challenging to plan.

As a junior project member, you learn how our procedures and processes work before moving on to manage small local projects, gradually building up to large, global assignments as you become more senior. With mentoring from senior peers and regular on- and off-the-job trainings along the way, you develop commercial acumen, learning how to best support the business. The breadth of what we do means there are opportunities for project managers to focus on a wide variety of technical areas and work across different industries and countries.

Managerial development

As an entry-level manager, you lead multidisciplinary teams either in our research center or within specific business units to create new solutions for our customer needs. You are responsible to ensure that projects are delivered on time and on budget.

As a middle manager, you focus on developing new expertise through research partnerships and recruitment. You work increasingly internationally, and collaboration facilitation is a key area of your responsibility.

As an internationally recognized leader and contributor to your fields, you focus your competence and expertise on global strategic roles within the organization.

Alternative career opportunities

Career flexibility is a key ABB principle. We always try to support you when your interests and priorities change, helping you move between countries, divisions, business units and functions. It is one of the main advantages of working for a truly global business with a very broad portfolio of products and services. 

Depending on your skills and interests, there would be opportunities in such areas as engineering, product management, quality and operational excellence, marketing and sales or project management.

Research and Development profile

A career in Research and Development at ABB is the right choice if you:
  • have earned an above-average degree in one of our core technologies, ideally a Ph.D. for our research centers.
  • develop and apply new solutions to create competitive advantages for ABB and our customers.
  • see the bigger picture: you strive to apply, combine and improve suggested solutions in order to achieve the best possible results.
  • work in a systematic and structured way, improving processes and documenting achievements.
  • communicate effectifely, written and verbal.
  • listen actively and take different perspectives into account, always advocating the best solution, irrespective of who generated the original idea.
  • enjoy networking and develop close relations within the global community, externally and internally.
  • stay up to date with new market trends and ensure that our technologies are appropriately safeguarded.

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