Culture & education

Through cultural and educational initiatives, we are striving to increase public acceptance and tolerance of new ideas as well as to bolster creativity and curiosity. We believe that music and literature in particular help build bridges between cultures. To us, education is essential to people's intellectual and professional development. We therefore support education projects at many of our sites by granting scholarships, for instance, or sponsoring specific classes.

Our principles

Promoting education worldwide

Our goal is to spark a passion for science in the next generation and pave the way for them to pursue a degree in the subjects. We seek to promote school and university students with a love of the sciences, which is why we invite children and adolescents to come to our Junior Lab and explore their enthusiasm for conducting experiments. In addition to this program, we have also been supporting the “Jugend forscht” competition for more than 30 years. Since 1996, we've been organizing the state-level competition for the German Federal State of Hesse and have also hosted the nationals twice.

Music and literature as ambassadors

We founded the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in Darmstadt in 1966. What began as a company ensemble is now a professional symphony orchestra. Our philharmonic is an integral part of cultural life in Darmstadt and also regularly goes on international concert tours. In addition to concerts, we also offer orchestra workshops where children and adolescents can experience playing in a professional orchestra.

Like music, literature is also an important ambassador between cultures. We therefore award five literary prizes worldwide that particularly recognize authors who distinguish themselves by unifying cultures as well as science and literature.


SPARK: Igniting a passion for science in the next generation

In early 2016, our Life Science business sector launched the SPARK initiative to kindle students’ curiosity, ignite a passion for science, and inspire them to consider a STEM-related career. Curiosity Labs™ are at the center of SPARK. The program is designed to educate and inspire students through hands-on, interactive science lessons – from DNA and chemiluminescence, flavors and fragrances, to water filtration – typically conducted right in their own classrooms.

The SPARK initiative focuses on skills-based volunteering of our Life Science employees. In February and March 2016, 3,465 of them participated in SPARK events across 36 countries. Beyond the positive impact SPARK has had on employees, we have motivated young people around the world through our Curiosity Lab™ lessons, site tours, career discussions, and other activities. Building on the positive feedback from the students, we have begun creating our own SPARK teams at our various Life Science sites.

Second Junior Lab opened at TU Darmstadt

Since 2008, we've been partnering with the Technical University (TU) of Darmstadt to operate a junior laboratory for chemistry. In 2016, we upped our efforts by adding a second lab to the offering. In the “livfe BioLab”, students can now also perform biology experiments under guidance from college students. This initiative links classroom lessons with trending topics and modern methods of biological research.

Scholarships for students in India

In India, many young people cannot attend university as they do not have the means to finance a degree. The Merck India (Mumbai) a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Charitable Trust (MICT) is therefore supporting students from underprivileged families in Mumbai. In 2016, 89 students received a scholarship that covers five to seven years of tuition fees as well as study materials.

Helping medical and pharmacology students in China

Since 2011, we've been awarding two-year scholarships to talented students in China who come from an economically disadvantaged background. We are focusing our support particularly on medical and pharmacology students at Fudan University in Shanghai, which is one of the most renowned academic institutions in China and ranks among the top 100 universities worldwide. To date, 600 students have benefited from our scholarships, with 120 in 2016 alone. Recipients have included PhD fellows and graduates working towards an advanced degree.

Moreover, since 2016, our Healthcare business sector has been providing scholarships for MBA students of the National School of Development (NSD) at the University of Beijing.

India: Making an art of learning

In 2016, we took part in Art By Children, an event held in India that motivated 5,000 children across 100 schools to explore their artistic side. This initiative is part of the Kochi Muziris Biennale, the largest public art event in southern Asia. Art By Children seeks to link learning with arts education to develop their inherent capacity for creativity.

50 years of the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

During its second season of 2016, the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany celebrated its 50th anniversary, and the festivities are continuing in the first season of 2017. The first highlight was the opening concert of the anniversary season, which was held in September 2016 in the basilica of Eberbach Abbey in Eltville am Rhein, Germany. Moreover, with its “HipHop trifft Klassik” concert in the same month, the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck (sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) performed its first-ever crossover project. This joint effort with the Munich-based hip hop group Einshoch6 was held in the Frankfurter Jahrhunderthalle.

In 2016, approximately 23,000 people attended the concerts of the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. In May 2016, our symphony orchestra played a concert at an internal Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany event in Madrid (Spain).

Literary awards for bridge builders

In Germany, we've been presenting the Johann Heinrich Merck Award of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany for literary criticism and essays since 1964. Worth € 20,000, this prize went to the author Kathrin Passig in 2016. According to the German Academy for Language and Poetry, she was chosen for “her highly original texts, which address a broad spectrum of topics and expertly span the blog, book and essay formats.” The journalist and writer Gabriele Goettle won this award in 2015.

The Kakehashi Literature Prize of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in Japan was presented in partnership with the Goethe-Institut Tokyo for the first time in 2014. Every two years, it recognizes works by German authors made accessible for a Japanese readership and comes with prize money totaling € 10,000, split evenly between the author and their translator. In 2016, writer Ilma Rakusa and her translator Fuminari Niimoto received the award.

The 2016 Tagore Award of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany went to Sudhir Kakar, an Indian psychoanalyst and writer. In numerous landmark works, Kakar has analyzed the society of the subcontinent from a psychoanalytical perspective, thereby reflecting upon the spiritual soul of India. We present the award every two years in partnership with the Goethe-Institut Kolkata. Worth 500,000 Indian rupees (approx. € 7,200), this literary prize is granted to authors who have made a significant contribution to cultural exchange between Germany and India.

We have been awarding the Premio Letterario of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany since 2003 in recognition of authors who make science accessible to a broad audience. The prize is worth € 10,000. In 2016, the Premio Letterario went to Italian physician Alberto Mantovani and British historian Helen Macdonald, who have a special understanding of how to build bridges between literature and science. In 2015, the award went to American science author and writer David Quammen and French writer Maylis de Kerangal.

In 2016, we expanded our efforts by launching the Translation Award of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in Russia. With € 4,000 in prize money, this partnership with the Goethe-Institut Russia recognizes the crucial role that translations play in intercultural exchange. Presented for the first time in September 2016, the award went to Vladislava Agafonova, Kirill Levinson and Alexandra Gorbova for their German-Russian translations.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.