On June 20, 2016, ten scholarship holders of the Beilstein-Institut went to Darmstadt to participate in a special factory tour at Merck – which is the oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company in the world. During a presentation of the company and its products, Gudrun Preßler-Rickert from the Visitor Service team emphasized that tradition and constant innovation have been characteristics of the company since its foundation in 1668. Almost 9,000 of the 50,000 company's employees worldwide are based in Darmstadt, the headquarters of Merck. The factory tour led past impressive buildings from various historical eras and numerous construction sites, demonstrating that the company is constantly developing and changing.
Gudrun Preßler-Rickert started with a brief overview of the history of the Merck family, from the acquisition of the Engel-Apotheke (Angel Pharmacy) in 1668, to Emanuel Merck who established the research-based industrial company in 1827 up to today's market position. She emphasized that the Merck family – who is still the majority shareholder of the listed company – is committed to a long-term business success. The difference to the American company Merck & Co. was also discussed. The company's broad portfolio ranging from Healthcare to Life Science and Performance Materials encouraged interesting questions and discussions among the Beilstein scholars, who perform their doctoral thesis in various scientific disciplines.
Sebastian Barth, employee of the Strategic Marketing department in the Performance Materials, talked about Organic Photovoltaics, a promising technology that uses organic materials to produce climate-friendly electricity from sunlight. Comparable to the concept of inkjet printers, the organic materials are printed on suitable substrates allowing highly flexible application possibilities. First applications, e.g. in smartphones, already exist. However, the long-term goal to use Organic Photovoltaics by equipping roofs and facades is not yet within reach. Especially those Beilstein scholars who are working in this field were very interested and asked a lot of questions. The stakeholder aspect, the handling of EU directives and the need of lobbying were further interesting aspects of Barths talk shedding a new light on the implementation of research results.