Darmstadt, Germany, May 12, 2014 – By acquiring a majority stake in InnovationLab GmbH, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and BASF are increasing their involvement in order to continue the successful scientific work of the Heidelberg-based research and transfer platform for organic electronics in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region. InnovationLab GmbH arose from the Forum Organic Electronics cooperation network, which until the end of last year was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of the leading-edge cluster competition.

"By continuing with InnovationLab GmbH, we have reached a key goal of the leading-edge cluster competition, that being to build a bridge between business and science," says Karl Hahn, Senior Vice President at BASF. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and BASF have increased their interest to 70%; together with the University of Heidelberg and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), they will make up the advisory board of the research platform. "By consolidating the joint research activities of academia and business under one roof, we have created a new, effective model for successful scientific transfer," says Martin Raditsch, CEO of InnovationLab.

Around 100 scientists currently work at InnovationLab on projects relating to printed and organic electronics. Rapid research success prompted both companies to boost their involvement. "Thanks to the shared infrastructure, we can deploy resources more effectively and accelerate development cycles," says Bjorn Hofman, Senior Vice President at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. "The R&D collaboration between business and science is thus facilitating the rapid transfer of discoveries into marketable products, forming the ideal basis to foster young talent."

InnovationLab GmbH stems from an initiative in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region and was jointly founded by companies and universities in that area together with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Research operations started in 2011 with a high-tech lab for printed and organic electronics costing more than EUR 15 million, which was made possible through EUR 40 million in funding from the BMBF (2008-2013). An additional EUR 40 million was contributed by industrial partners of the cluster.

The setup of the cluster structure was supported by the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg.

About InnovationLab GmbH

iL is an application-oriented research and transfer platform of business and science in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan region. At iL, one focus is the development of strategies for the Leading-Edge Cluster Forum Organic Electronics as well as the coordination of the cluster partners’ joint activities. iL is supported by the Universities of Heidelberg and Mannheim, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and by the companies BASF SE, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG and SAP AG.

iL's goal is to create research platforms which allow the partners to work together under one roof across all disciplines and along the entire value chain. The company mainly focuses on cooperative research, transforming inventions into marketable products, and training the next generation.

iL is initially working on the future technology of printed and organic electronics, forming a central component of the strategy for success of the BMBF Leading-Edge Cluster Forum Organic Electronics. As part of the promotion of this excellence cluster, many research projects are being driven forward at InnovationLab GmbH, including the development of semi-transparent organic solar cells or organic sensors for medical applications.

Further information on www.innovationlab.de

About the Leading-Edge Cluster Forum Organic Electronics
In autumn 2008, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) named the cluster Forum Organic Electronics the winner of their Leading-Edge Cluster Competition. This is linked to the funding of the cluster partners' research projects to the tune of around € 40 million over five years. Additionally, the cluster is supported by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg with 5,5 Mio. €.

The Leading-Edge Cluster Forum Organic Electronics is a cooperative network which currently consists of fifteen international corporations, among them three DAX-listed companies, five mid-sized companies and ten research institutes and universities.

The FOE cluster partners are working jointly on the realization of innovative applications and products in the field of printed and organic electronics. The joint research is focused on the environment-friendly energy production employing organic photovoltaics, the economical use of energy by means of organic light-emitting diodes and the resource-conserving production of electronic circuits, memories and sensors. The cluster’s special competency is its know-how in printing technologies as a cost-effective production method for organic electronics devices.
Further information on www.forumoe.de