We all learn from the efforts of others in all endeavors (wishbone to west coast offense in football). It is easier to improve on another person's innovation than to innovate. We have done both without all of the fancy lab equipment. We focus on using the best raw materials available and using new raw materials whenever possible.
Years ago we worked on re-engineering many products for a private label. The deal fell through and we ended up with several usable formulas. However, when all was said and done we did not use them as we replicated 1990 formulas and preferred our 2010 formulas. From that experience we focus on replicating performance not the formulas themselves. There are many ways to get similar performance with updated ingredients. Few raw materials are not replaceable in terms of similar cleaning performance.