Darmstadt, Germany, March 22, 2015 – Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading company for innovative, top-quality high-tech products in healthcare, life science and performance materials, today announced that it received the German Industry Innovation Award last night in the "companies with innovative HR concepts" category. Johanna Wanka, German Federal Minister of Education and Research, presented the award at a ceremony in Frankfurt to Belén Garijo, Member of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and CEO Healthcare.

"Innovation has been our foundation throughout our nearly 350-year history," said Garijo. "In order to remain successful, we have to continuously adapt to changing markets and a changing environment. The award-winning initiatives show that our innovation concept relates not only to new products, but also to a working environment that offers scope for creativity and innovation."

With the two projects singled out for the award, namely the biopharmaceuticals business Innovation Cup and innospire, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is not just proving its slogan "Living Innovation". The initiatives, which are aimed at both internal and external audiences, are also contributing to the successful execution of the second phase of the "Fit for 2018" transformation and growth program, which centers on the topic of innovation. With the launch of the program in 2012, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is laying the foundations for the profitable future growth of the company with a view to the company's 350th anniversary in 2018.

The jury explained its decision on whom to grant the award to as follows: "We are especially honoring the fact that the award application demonstrates how innovation is lived as a bottom-up initiative and is designed from the pre-company to the post-company phase." The finalists in the "companies with innovative HR concepts" category were - besides Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany - Bayer, Deutsche Bahn and Hofgut Himmelreich.

"From the beginning, it was important to us to link the topic of embracing innovation with the recruitment and development of talented scientists. After all, behind every successful innovation there is a clever mind that has been given the freedom to unfold its ideas," said Ulrich Betz, who leads both projects at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. "We are extremely pleased that our concept has also been recognized externally."

The biopharmaceuticals business Innovation Cup
Since 2011, the Innovation Cup has been inviting young scientists from around the world annually to attend a one-week summer training camp. The researchers are assigned to teams with former Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, researchers in retirement and develop new, highly innovative approaches for pharmaceutical research in a highly stimulating and competitive environment. The best project proposal is awarded a prize (previously € 10,000) and is implemented afterwards. The best young researchers are either hired by the company or, as part of an innovative HR approach, remain at the company’s disposal as members of a permanent pool of external consultants. Since the start of the project, seven business plans have been implemented at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and ten former participants were or are now Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, employees. Additionally, the idea in a modified version served as the basis for the BioMed X Innovation Center, which recruits distinguished early career scientists from all over the world to work on preclinical research projects in an open innovation lab facility for a limited period of time.

innospire (derived from the words innovation and inspiration) is an innovation initiative designed to mobilize the innovation potential of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, employees. Every second year, the company's roughly 39,000 employees are called upon to submit ideas for new products and to develop convincing business plans in a multi-stage process. The initiative, which was launched in 2009, has led to more than 30 patent submissions and three products. The three products are Parteck SLC, which increases the solubility of active pharmaceutical ingredients, Cellvento, a chemically defined cell culture medium, and Check MyMeds a smartphone app for the verification of the authenticity of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, drugs. Further products are being prepared currently.

Notes for editors
ˇ A video on the occasion of the award is available here.
ˇ More information as well as photos of the event are available here.
ˇ Our Innovation Cup is described here in more detail.
ˇ Our company on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
ˇ Photos regarding our company can be found here