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News

Inventor company Bayer aims also to set standards in the future

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 30 June, 2004  (Company News)
This claim and the company’s commitment to innovation is highlighted by its new corporate slogan “Bayer: Science For A Better Life.” Wenning went on: “Our aim is to build on this spirit of innovation, which is the hallmark of all three Bayer subgroups, and use it to shape the future of our company.” To sustain its innovative strength Bayer will be investing EUR 2.3 billion in research and development this year. Taken together with capital expenditures, this means Bayer will be investing more than EUR 4 billion in the company’s future in 2004.
Following the separation of the newly formed company Lanxess, in which Bayer is placing its traditional chemicals business and parts of its polymers operations, the Bayer Group will focus on health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. According to Wenning, these are fields in which Bayer has strong market positions and excellent technologies that are the key to innovation and thus to growth. He went on: “Pooling all our strengths and focusing one hundred percent on our three core business areas is the only way to utilize our full potential. After all, innovation and growth require considerable financial and management resources.”

In order to secure the long-term future of Bayer and its employees, it is not just a matter of preparing the company for tomorrow, “but of paving the way for the day after tomorrow too.” In this respect, the breadth of the Bayer portfolio provides an outstanding basis for accessing attractive future markets. “I am convinced that Bayer has a good chance of sharing in the enormous potential they offer,” said Wenning. Last year Bayer achieved sales of almost EUR 1.2 billion with new products from its life science businesses, thus generating additional growth.

In the medium term Bayer plans to maintain its high level of research spending – around 85 percent of which goes to the HeathCare and CropScience subgroups – and thus sustain leadership positions in the chemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors. “However, that is evidently only possible if Germany remains a competitive industrial base in the long term,” said the Bayer CEO. It must stop the brain drain of young scientists if it does not want to fall behind countries with cutting edge technologies. Society must be made aware that innovative growth is essential to protect and create jobs in Germany and thus improve living standards. “All of us – including the politicians – have to ensure that our society is not dominated by fear and anxiety. We need to foster a more optimistic attitude to the future,” demanded Wenning. Competitiveness and growth must be repositioned as values that are honored and respected.

Wenning expressed concern and disappointment about certain political developments at European level. As examples he named the dramatic increase in bureaucracy entailed by the planned Chemicals Policy; emissions trading, which will put companies that have already achieved their goals at a clear disadvantage; integrated product policy; and the new “SCALE” health care policy, which is based on emotions rather than scientific findings.

Bayer is not against statutory provisions or reasonable regulations, nor is it opposed to a new chemicals policy. On the contrary, the company has always advocated an amendment to bring EU regulations into line with international standards.

However, it rejects excessive bureaucracy that costs time and money without serving the real cause, namely protecting health and the environment.

Wenning criticized that European industry in general and the chemical sector in particular is being expected to shoulder a range of burdens that are out of all proportion to the possible improvements in environmental and consumer protection. “We are in favor of change – but not at any price if it means jeopardizing the international competitiveness of Europe as an industrial base.”

The goal of the Lisbon EU Summit, which envisaged that Europe should become the most competitive economy in the world, cannot be achieved without an innovative industrial sector that is geared to growth. Following many discussions with politicians in Berlin and Brussels, the Bayer CEO is confident that the newly elected European Parliament will revise the proposed regulations again with a view to strengthening the competitiveness of the region but without neglecting the interests of health and the environment.

“Research is driven not just by current ideas but also by visions,” said Dr. Udo Oels, the Bayer board member responsible for Innovation, Technology and Environment. He not only delivered an overview of the current R&D activities and plans of the subgroups but also looked to the future. For example, great potential is seen in the use of plants. The BioScience and Pharmaceuticals divisions are already discussing the use of transgenic plants to produce complex molecules such as proteins for therapeutic purposes.

It is also conceivable that plant-based raw materials could one day be processed into entirely new materials. Bayer sees tremendous potential for products which combine its expertise in the fields of medicine and materials research and exploit synergies. One example of this approach is the antibacterial plastic catheter treated with an anti-infective to prevent the infections that are so feared in hospitals. “We are working to implement a number of other ideas. Not just for tomorrow, but for the day after tomorrow as well,” emphasized Oels.

This year, more than half of Bayer’s total research budget is being spent in the HealthCare subgroup, which comprises the Pharmaceuticals, Diagnostics, Consumer Care, Animal Health and Biological Products divisions. In Pharmaceuticals Bayer will in future be concentrating on anti-infectives, cardiovascular risk management, cancer and urology. The division currently has a strong early pipeline containing 20 pre-clinical projects and 11 Phase I projects. Two promising active substances have already proceeded to advanced research stages: the Raf kinase inhibitor for the treatment of various types of cancer and the Factor Xa inhibitor to prevent thrombosis.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already reacted very positively to the anti-cancer drug, granting it fast-track status which enables Bayer to submit study results on an ongoing basis, and thus accelerate the substance’s registration and support its development. “The drug is currently in Phase III clinical development. If it lives up to our expectations in the treatment of renal and other types of cancer, it could definitely have the potential to become a blockbuster,” said Oels. The same applies to the Factor Xa inhibitor for treating thrombosis. This is to be taken in tablet form and would make routine monitoring of coagulation parameters superfluous.

According to Oels, research in the HealthCare business area does not just serve to develop new products but also to improve existing ones. “One example of the continuous innovation of a tried-and-true product is Aspirin®,” said the Bayer board member for research. Studies around the world are continually identifying new therapeutic possibilities and Bayer’s scientists continue to develop new presentations.

Another driving force in future growth will be delivered by innovations from Bayer CropScience. Bayer is a market leader in chemical crop protection and in the future plans to grow faster than the market by developing innovative products. Between 2002 and 2005, a total of 10 new products from CropScience research will have been launched on the market and, by 2006, should already account for sales of more than EUR 800 million, thus contributing a large share to this subgroup’s overall revenues. The subgroup’s early pipeline is also well stocked with promising candidates for all indications. Oels went on to say that crop protection research is not only dedicated to discovering new active substances with innovative mechanisms of action. “We are also concentrating on innovation through life cycle management – in other words, the constant improvement of products that are already on the market.”

Bayer also anticipates great potential from an innovation to protect crops: safeners. This technology allows the destruction of weeds while protecting the crops themselves. Combination with herbicides produces customized solutions for a wide variety of crops.

One of the most promising developments in the field of nutrition is biotechnology. Although green genetic engineering is still fighting for public approval in some countries, Oels is optimistic: “We are certain that there will be widespread acceptance as soon as consumers are able to benefit from this technology in the form of high-value products.” The fields of crop protection, seeds and plant biotechnology will increasingly converge and complement each other in the future. Biotechnology will not only boost agricultural yields to feed a growing world population but will also enhance the quality of crops. For example, Bayer is working to create canola plants that yield oil with a higher content of unsaturated fatty acids for a much healthier diet. The company also intends to modify cotton fibers in such a way that they crease less readily, can be dyed more easily, and are water-repellent.

Also fascinating, said Oels, are the possibilities offered by plants as bioreactors. Bayer is conducting intensive research in the field of customized carbohydrates for a wide variety of everyday applications: as adhesives, in food products, for industrial use in paper production or for films.

In the field of materials research, Bayer MaterialScience is investigating new application for polymers in optical data storage media and automotive glazing, the use of polyurethanes as raw materials for new high-performance coating systems, and nanotechnology. According to Oels: “Nanotechnology is perhaps destined to be an important growth driver. It is considered to be one of the key technologies of the 21st century and will play an important role not just in materials development, but also in the fields of medicine, nutrition, microelectronics and biotechnology.” The thrust into the nanocosmos of atoms and molecules will make it possible to equip materials with new and highly interesting properties and functions. “Bayer is well positioned in the field of nanotechnology, and will further improve its position to take advantage of future market opportunities,” emphasized Oels.

With its transparent plastic Makrolon®, Bayer played a key role in the breakthrough of CDs as a storage medium for music and digital data. Bayer researchers are currently working together on the development of the Blu-Ray Disc, which will have five times the storage capacity of the DVD. They have already set their sights on the generation after that: three-dimensional or holographic data storage media based on laser-writable polymer films. These would open up the world of terabytes, thus making it possible to store the contents of an entire home library on one small disc in the foreseeable future. Oels again: “We are currently also testing such materials for the storage of data in non-forgeable identification systems or so-called smart cards.” It is even conceivable that bank notes could be made from the specialty films, making them entirely non-forgeable.

As an important instrument in additionally strengthening its innovative power, Bayer recently established Bayer Innovation GmbH, headquartered in Düsseldorf. This independently operating company will help to develop innovative project ideas into workable new concepts. It will not only focus on innovative products, but also on completely new fields of business outside the current Bayer portfolio.
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