Education and culture

Underpinned by a longstanding tradition, the promotion of education and culture is a core element of our commitment to society. By making education and culture accessible, we nurture characteristics that are essential to us as a high-tech company, namely creativity, enthusiasm for new discoveries, curiosity, and the courage to transcend boundaries. With this in mind, we sponsor such initiatives at many of our sites, grant scholarships and facilitate learning in specific subjects.

Our commitment: Principles for our community involvement

When it comes to our commitment to the community, we align our educational and cultural activities to our Group Policy on Contributions to Society, which is detailed under Community involvement.

Dedicated to education worldwide

We are committed to igniting a passion for science especially among young people, which is why we've been supporting initiatives such as 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.

Laboratories at TU Darmstadt expanded

We encourage young people to come to our Junior Labs and explore their enthusiasm for conducting experiments. This initiative links classroom lessons with trending topics and modern methods of research. Since 2008, we've been partnering with the Technical University (TU) of Darmstadt to operate a junior laboratory for chemistry. In 2017, we upped our efforts by adding experiments in new subject areas such as dyestuff synthesis and enzyme kinetics. Over the course of 2017, approximately 2,500 students conducted research here. Since 2016, we've also been running the “livfe BioLab”, where students can perform biology experiments under professional guidance. In 2017, more than 1,000 students took advantage of this laboratory.

Continuing education for teachers and expanding school partnerships

As part of our school booster program in Darmstadt and the surrounding area, in 2017 we provided approximately 70 schools with numerous science lesson materials. Around 1,500 students visited our research labs, select manufacturing plants and the classroom laboratory at our headquarters.

In Darmstadt, we support teachers through continuing education classes in their field of expertise and also provide educational concepts. In 2017, we once more hosted a science conference attended by more than 200 teachers from the region. In tandem to this, we offered three continuing education courses on the digitalization of classroom laboratory experiments. For our efforts, we were honored with the SchuleWirtschaft-Preis (School-Business Germany Award). In the German Federal State of Hesse, we were awarded first place in the “Business-School partnership for digital education” category.

In 2017, we initiated a pilot project to leverage the experience we’ve gained through long-standing school partnerships in the Darmstadt area and apply it in other countries. Having already launched one project in India in 2017, others are scheduled to follow in Chile, Kenya and Tanzania in 2018. These efforts focus on providing teachers with the tools to design exciting lessons that will spark their students’ curiosity in science. We are partnering closely with education experts to develop the concepts for these lessons. Thanks to their invaluable experience and knowledge of the cultural landscapes in the respective countries, we can adapt experiments to local environments and introduce our technologies. An experiment in Tanzania, for instance, will show how food analyses are conducted using the example of local fruits. You can read more about our international education efforts in the magazine section of this report.

SPARK: Igniting a passion for science in the next generation

As part of SPARK, our global volunteer program, employees from our Life Science business sector share their skills and experience with students in order to ignite a passion for science and inspire them to consider a -related career. SPARK activities include our Curiosity LabsTM program, which educates students through exciting hands-on, interactive science lessons. Beyond this, we also offer them site tours and career discussions. In addition to providing all the materials pupils need for the practical lessons, we collaborate closely with education experts around the world to ensure that SPARK meets specific local requirements. In 2017, through this initiative, more than 2,500 of our employees volunteered over 13,700 hours around the world to provide exciting insights into the world of science and strengthen our communities.

Curiosity Cube tours the United States

As part of SPARK, in 2017 we launched the Curiosity CubeTM, a retrofitted shipping container that has been transformed into a solar-powered mobile science lab. The goal of this mobile lab is to bring hands-on science experiments and state-of-the-art technology in an innovative setting to spark curiosity in the next generation of scientists. In 2017, more than 38,000 students visited the mobile lab. Each one of the nearly 23,000 experiments conducted was led by a Life Science employee.


kilometers were covered by the Curiosity CubeTM throughout the United States. It stopped at schools and city centers in over 85 communities.

Most importantly, the Curiosity CubeTM had a direct impact on student achievement and cognition. Following a visit, surveyed teachers indicated that 82% of students used terms and concepts learned at the Curiosity CubeTM in classroom discussions, while 95% of students increased their understanding of life science terminology.

Taiwan: Lab experiments in railway cars

In May 2017, we took part in Taiwan Railways of Popular Science, an event held in Taiwan in which a science train made a four-day journey across the country. With it, 27 of our employees traveled to 17 cities, teaching more than 3,000 students about the science behind everyday products and supervising experiments such as how to make display or cosmetics. The science train was developed by professors of two Taiwanese universities in 2016 and is sponsored by the Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology.

Mobile research lab for environmental analysis

In 2017, we once more lent support to the “Chemistry on the go” initiative of Tamkang University in Taiwan. Under this initiative, Tamkang University has converted a truck into a mobile research lab for environmental analysis to give students even in remote parts of Taiwan the opportunity to perform scientific experiments. We've been supplying laboratory materials for the truck since 2014. In 2017, around 20 of our employees also taught classes to approximately 1,000 students. Beyond these efforts, in the course of 2018 we plan to donate a second, fully-equipped laboratory truck to Tamkang University in an effort to reach even more school children.

Partnering with Seeding Labs

In 2017, we sponsored a new online platform for Seeding Labs, an organization that provides scientists in developing and emerging countries with lab equipment, training and opportunities to collaborate with experts in their field. This TeleScience platform will feature 11 educational videos and training sessions led by our Life Science employees, who share techniques and tips on a wide range of topics such as sterile sampling and reducing cell culture contamination. Under the auspices of this organization, we also donated laboratory equipment to nine universities in seven countries in a bid to accelerate scientific research. More than 30 employees volunteered their time to help select, decontaminate, inventory, and pack items for donation.

Sparking the curiosity of Chinese primary school children

At the beginning of 2017, we launched the Green Crystal project in China by donating second-hand yet still fully functional tablets to two elementary schools in Sichuan province. The aim of this project is to improve science education for primary school students. In September 2017, 17 of our employees in Shanghai participated in this project, traveling to the schools, teaching lessons and supervising scientific experiments. In 2017, around 400 children benefited from this initiative.

Music and literature as ambassadors

Deutsche Philharmonie sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

What began in 1966 as a company ensemble is now a professional symphony orchestra. The Deutsche Philharmonie sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is an integral part of cultural life in Darmstadt and regularly goes on international concert tours. We also offer orchestra workshops where children and adolescents can experience playing in a professional orchestra for the first time. Through cushion concerts for children as young as four and youth concerts, we seek to inspire young people and ignite a passion for classical music.

In 2017, guest directors such as Joseph Bastian and Yoel Gamzou helped us celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Deutsche Philharmonie sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Ben Palmer was appointed head conductor and gave his inaugural concert in the basilica of Eberbach Abbey in Eltville am Rhein (Germany). Other guest performers included the Klazz Brothers and the European Union Baroque Orchestra.


people attended performances of the Deutsche Philharmonie sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in 2017. As part of its international tour, the symphony performed concerts in Morocco, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

Building social inclusion through music

In the vicinity of our site in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), where many children and young people face social instability, we support the School of Music and Citizenship. Since 2011, around 3,700 children and adolescents have received music lessons at this school, with approximately 1,100 in 2017 alone. The dedication of this music school has produced a successful youth orchestra with approximately 40 talented young musicians.

Literary awards for bridge builders

Like music, literature is also an important ambassador between cultures. We therefore award five literary prizes worldwide. The Johann Heinrich Merck Award for Literary Criticism and Essay Writing in Germany of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and the Premio Letterario Award of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in Italy are presented on an annual basis, while the Kakehashi Literature Prize of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in Japan, the Tagore Award of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in India, and the Translation Award of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in Russia are granted every two years. These prizes particularly recognize authors who distinguish themselves as bridge-builders between cultures, as well as between science and literature.

Worth € 20,000 and launched in 1964, the Johann Heinrich Merck Award of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany for Literary Criticism and Essay Writing went to journalist and author Jens Bisky in 2017. According to the German Academy for Language and Poetry, he was chosen for his “brilliant style, cosmopolitan outlook and witty levelheadedness, which, given the acuity of his judgment, makes him one of the most reliable voices in current discourse”.

In Italy, we've been awarding the Premio Letterario Award of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany since 2003 in recognition of authors who make science accessible to a broad audience. Worth € 10,000, the 2017 prize was presented to U.S. author Sam Kean for his essay “The Violinist's Thumb”. The jury decided on an honorable mention for Paolo Zellini, an Italian mathematician, author and professor. Both have a special understanding of how to bridge the gap between literature and science.

In Italy, we also pledge resources to promoting the next generation of literary genius. In addition to creative writing workshops, we host a youth writing competition. The winners of La Scienza Narrata are chosen together with the winners of the Premio Letterario Award of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Liquid Crystals (LC)
Liquid crystals are a hybrid of a crystalline and liquid state. In general, molecules are perfectly arranged only when in a solid crystal state, in contrast to the liquid state, when they move around chaotically. However, liquid crystals are a hybrid of the two states: Although they are liquid, they exhibit a certain crystalline arrangement. Their rod-shaped molecules align themselves like a shoal of fish. In addition, they respond to the electromagnetic waves of light like tiny antennae. Therefore, such swarms of molecules can either allow specially prepared “polarized” light to pass through, or they can block it. This takes place in the pixels of liquid crystal displays – as it does similarly in liquid crystal windows, which can provide shade against sunlight.

Sustainable Development Goals

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