Bayer AG officially celebrated the 150th anniversary of its foundation on Tuesday. More than 1,000 guests attended the event in Cologne, including numerous personalities from politics, business, science, society and the media along with customers and Bayer employees.
Guests of honor were German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and North Rhine-Westphalian State Premier Hannelore Kraft. "The name Bayer has a permanent place in the history of German industry. 150 years of Bayer - congratulations," said Merkel in her address. Kraft commented: "Bayer is a prime example of a company working to ensure a better life and better health for millions of people."
"150 years of Bayer - that is indeed something very special. This anniversary fills everyone at Bayer with joy and great pride," said Dr. Marijn Dekkers, Chairman of the Board of Management, citing Aspirin as one of the Bayer products that have made history. "We at Bayer are living the mission 'Science For A Better Life'. This means that we are seizing all the opportunities that science offers and drawing on the experience of one-and-a-half centuries to make people's lives better."
Dekkers said Bayer's businesses address global challenges including global population growth, rising life expectancy, scarce resources and climate change. He highlighted the fact that despite substantial advances in medicine, there is still no adequate treatment for more than half of all known diseases.
He also pointed out that ways need to be found to grow considerably more food - and better-quality food - on the same amount of arable land in order to provide food for more and more people. Within the next 30 years alone, the global population is expected to increase from seven billion to nine billion. "Research and development is the only way to overcome the current global challenges," explained Dekkers.
He said this is where courage is needed. "As entrepreneurs, we have to decide today on investments whose success will not be evident for another decade or even longer - if at all." Such decisions, he said, are made all the more difficult, the more uncertain the long-term economic, political and social framework becomes.
"That's why we need stability, a supportive framework and a clear course," he added, other crucially important factors being well-educated young people, creative minds and the social acceptance and appreciation of innovations and new products.
"Bayer would not be the successful company it is today without its employees around the world," he concluded. "I owe them a special debt of gratitude for their tremendous commitment." He also thanked the company's customers and partners for their trust. "Together with you, we look forward to a successful and exciting future."
Merkel: The name Bayer stands for the entrepreneurial spirit
"The name Bayer stands for the entrepreneurial spirit," said Chancellor Merkel. Today the Group employs 110,000 people worldwide and has EUR 40 billion in sales.
"The ink this success story was written in is innovation," she said, pointing out that Bayer invested some EUR 3 billion in research and development last year alone - even more than the year before. "The entire history of this company is one of transformation, renewal and curiosity," Merkel continued. "We want you to continue your work as drivers of innovation."
With more than 400,000 employees, the chemicals sector is one of the pillars of German industry, the Chancellor added. "That's also because companies like Bayer have always regarded sustainability as a corporate success strategy. Commercial efficiency, a socially responsible approach by both sides of industry and the protection of our natural environment are mutually essential.
"And at Bayer, you not only know that, but act accordingly." Sustainability, she said, means having regard for tomorrow's quality of life and prosperity today and being able to think long-term. "And a company that can look back on a 150-year history is also able to look well into the future."
Merkel thanked the company, represented by the Bayer cross, for being an outstanding advertisement for Germany. "Bayer," she added, "is a symbol of Germany as a base for innovation and high-tech industry that provides good, secure jobs, where management and employees work well together and where exciting challenges are addressed."
Kraft: A global player with its roots in the region
"Bayer is a prime example of a company working to ensure a better life and better health for millions of people - and has been for a century and a half," declared State Premier Kraft, saying this is exactly what the motto "Science For A Better Life" expresses.
"Throughout North Rhine-Westphalia we are pleased that from these regional roots has grown an international company that is a true global player."
Bayer, she said, is pursuing a clear corporate strategy, its innovations so often helping to safeguard the future while at the same time creating traditions. "Better and better medicines, better materials, better crop protection - that's what you as Bayer employees are helping to achieve every day.
"Without your efforts those achievements would be impossible, and that makes today the right time to thank you for what you have done for this company and for North Rhine-Westphalia," said Kraft.
"We should all realize that we need the chemical industry for the sake of our future. If we imagine tomorrow's world - say 50 years from now - it's obvious that we need even more efficient fuels, even better food, better batteries, more efficient insulation and much else besides. We can only achieve that with contributions from the chemical industry - not without it and certainly not by opposing it."
The State Premier said the fact that Bayer has preserved its regional roots also creates an obligation for the state. "We want you to be able to continue growing and prospering here," said Kraft. "North Rhine-Westphalia and Bayer represent not just a fleeting liaison but a firm and resilient alliance."
Opitz: Fostering young people's interest in research
"Research is a tremendous adventure, a voyage of discovery into mysterious, quite different worlds. That's the message we have to get across if we want to arouse enthusiasm for research," said Dr. Christiane Opitz from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, who received the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award in 2012 for her work in tumor research. She said schools and universities generally teach facts and convey established truths, even the results of experiments often being obvious from the start.
"This can engender a false sense of certainty and give us the feeling that most things are already known and understood," she explained - despite the many questions to which there are no definitive answers. "It must therefore be the job of schools to impart not only knowledge itself but also an appreciation of its boundaries," Opitz concluded.
TV moderator Judith Rakers guided the audience through the celebration. Rounding out the event were music played by the Bayer Philharmonic Orchestra, short films and an artistic and multimedia stage performance based on the corporate mission "Bayer: Science For A Better Life."
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