Make CSR a lever for differentiation and value creation

For more than 30 years, Alcimed has been supporting its clients, industrial players, innovative start-ups and SMEs, and institutional players, in their sustainable development and CSR projects, with the conviction that CSR must be a lever for differentiation and value creation.

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CSR Agency Consulting firm Experts Specialists

Challenges related to CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility

  • What is CSR and what is a CSR policy?

CSR, also known as corporate social responsibility, is defined by the European Commission as the voluntary integration by companies of social and environmental concerns into their business activities and their relationships with stakeholders. At the global level, standard ISO 26000 defines the scope of CSR and specifies the 7 essential dimensions: organizational governance, human rights, labor relations and conditions, the environment, fair practices, consumer issues, and communities and local development.

More simply, we can say that CSR defines the contribution of companies to the challenges of sustainable development.

Through its CSR policy, a company will therefore seek to have a positive social and environmental impact while being economically viable.

  • What are the challenges related to CSR?

We see today that the link between CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and business varies greatly from one sector to another or from one company to another, which raises its own series of challenges:

For mature industrial players, CSR is an integral part of their innovation strategies and allows them to develop products that meet the expectations of their customers/consumers and gain their trust. The commercial success that this generates gives companies the energy and the means to accelerate their transformation. The CSR dimension is then integrated into the upstream reflection process of the product concept, making it possible to open up the company's functions.
Some players do not transform their product R&D through CSR; instead, they develop dedicated offers allowing them either to accelerate access to certain markets or support their existing product portfolios with "no profit, no loss" offers.
Other players have not yet integrated CSR into their product concept in R&D but are integrating it downstream, either by improving the production process itself by implementing green production practices or by working on the product end of life.
Lastly, other players who are still not very mature at present still consider CSR in parallel with their business. CSR actions are thus directed towards employees or do not generate business themselves. In this case, the actions remain limited and not very sustainable because they are dependent upon the budget that the company wishes to allocate to them and the group's policy.

How do we balance our CSR commitment according to our business strategy? How do we harness CSR as a true lever of performance and create value? What CSR actions should we put in place and for what objectives and how do we implement them? Which stakeholders are involved in our CSR approach?

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How do we support you in your CSR projects?

For more than 10 years, Alcimed has been supporting its clients, industrial players, start-ups and SMEs, and professional and institutional associations on various issues related to sustainable development and CSR: neglected patients, carbon valorization, zero packaging, ecological footprint, recycling process, bioresources, “no profit, no loss” offers, end of life, second life, clean label, sustainable nutrition, disability, caregivers, etc.

We work for many players in the pharmaceutical, chemical, mobility, energy, cosmetics, aerospace-defense, and agrifood industries on end-of-life issues facing their products, recycling, energy compensation, green industrialization, etc. (find out more by reading our page on “Circular economy“). Beyond the circular economy itself, our experience in CSR leads us to categorize our projects into 4 main types:

1. CSR strategy consulting

We help our clients define their CSR strategy, transition it into CSR policy, and put the governance in place. CSR objectives must be consistent with the company’s business objectives so that CSR is an integral part of its development drivers and becomes a real lever for business performance.

2. Optimizing CSR policies to better stand out in the market

The objective is to understand how the elements of the CSR policy are perceived by the customers and partners of our clients, and how they position themselves versus the competition. These analyses allow us to help our clients improve their current strategy or to consolidate what they are already doing in order to use it as a lever to access certain B2B or B2C markets.

3. Identifying business opportunities related to CSR

This third component is closely linked to our investigative expertise, as we help our clients identify a “nugget”, or a “green” opportunity that could become a product, service, packaging, technology, industrial process, etc. and then integrate it into their processes. It is then a question of understanding how to generate value from this opportunity, how it can impact their current value chain, what new business model to put in place, which partners to integrate CSR into their roadmaps, etc. Here, we rely on our expertise in developing circular economy roadmaps.

4. Onboarding the teams

All these projects only make sense if you get the team behind you. It is a matter of agreeing on the terms related to sustainable development and CSR, of educating about it, of evangelizing, and of giving meaning to the teams in their approach to these challenges.

This is why we work in all these projects to involve the team: to promote what is done and to make it easy to understand!

The types of projects we carry out for our clients in this field are:

  • State of the art 
  • Product innovation 
  • Valorization 
  • Business models 
  • New services 
  • New offers 
  • Innovation strategy 
  • Cluster study 
  • Market study 
  • Value proposition 
  • Search for funding opportunities 
  • Search for partners 
  • Roadmap 
  • Benchmark 
  • Opportunity evaluation 
  • Go to market 
  • Regulatory framework analysis 
  • Strategic audit 
  • Innovation process 
  • Collaborative projects 

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We helped one of our clients, a leading agrifood manufacturer, to develop a decision-making tool for R&D, so that all CSR dimensions could be integrated from the very first stages of the concept, including product design, materials, purchases, the ethics of its positioning, etc.

We first worked on the CSR pillars in order to define each criterion and the KPIs to be considered when making product development decisions. We then defined how and by whom this tool would be used in order to open up decision-making. This tool is now used in each of their R&D programs and guides their innovation decisions.
Alcimed supported a leader in the phytosanitary and seed field who had recently defined its CSR commitments and selected the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on which it wanted to focus. Our client wanted a critical review of its strategy by players in its ecosystem before moving on to the implementation stage. We examined the commitments and SDGs chosen with KOLs and CSR leaders in the agricultural value chain, focusing on 3 questions:

1) Was our client perceived as credible and competent to work on the selected UN SDGs?

2) Were the commitments sufficiently ambitious and clearly defined, and were the associated KPIs adapted?

3) What were the gaps our client needed to fill?

Following this assessment, we were able to help our client to finalize their selection of UN SDGs and enter the implementation phase with a solid foundation.
We supported a cosmetics player who wanted to reduce its environmental impact by transforming one of its products currently sold in pharmacies in a bottle to a bulk product in a container. As a first step, we verified that a bulk formula could make sense for their markets and customers.

We then sought to understand how it would affect pharmacists. For example, who would be responsible for asepsis? How would the storage be managed? What would be the impact on the point of sale? Lastly, we defined a new business model more adapted to this new offer and mapped out the new stakeholders to consider.

What was the result for our client? A clear vision of the changes brought about in the market by its new offer, as well as a roadmap to best accommodate the changes.
We supported a pharmaceutical player who was seeking to strengthen its application for public contracts by reinforcing its differentiation arguments based not only on its products and services but also on its CSR policy.

To do this, we identified the expectations of the authorities in the respective countries in terms of CSR and deciphered the weight of CSR criteria when choosing awardees. By coupling this vision of demand with an analysis of the CSR policies of our client's competitors, we developed a pitch and a toolbox for each of the countries within the scope of the call and proposed some avenues to improve our client's CSR performance!

Founded in 1993, Alcimed is an innovation and new business consulting firm, specializing in innovation driven sectors: life sciences (healthcare, biotech, agrifood), energy, environment, mobility, chemicals, materials, cosmetics, aeronautics, space and defence.

Our purpose? Helping both private and public decision-makers explore and develop their uncharted territories: new technologies, new offers, new geographies, possible futures, and new ways to innovate.

Located across eight offices around the world (France, Europe, Singapore and the United States), our team is made up of 220 highly-qualified, multicultural and passionate explorers, with a blended science/technology and business culture.

Our dream? To build a team of 1,000 explorers, to design tomorrow's world hand in hand with our clients.


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