Merck promotes aspiring scientific talent through a variety of programs
As a global science and technology company, Merck is involved in a wide range of activities in the education sector. “Promoting young scientists is very important to us. Our commitment to education is a key element of our Corporate Responsibility strategy,” says Frank Gotthardt, Head of Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility. In 2016 alone, Merck invested € 3.2 million in educational projects. The company’s activities also include awarding international scholarships – for example in India and China, or awards for excellent students in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. For more than 30 years, Merck has been a partner of “Jugend forscht”, Germany’s largest and most successful young scientist competition. Since 1996, the company has been staging the state competition in Hesse and has hosted the national finals twice. Pupils, apprentices and students between the ages of 15 and 21 are called upon to develop creative projects. The participants can choose the topics themselves, but the project must fit into one of seven categories. These are: the world of work, chemistry, biology, geo and space sciences, mathematics / information technology, physics, and technology. “We are repeatedly impressed by the high level of the projects that are submitted,” says Julian Wenzel from Community Relations at Merck.
Merck widely promotes STEM subjects, namely science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Continuous support of schools is having an impact: around 80% of the “Jugend forscht” projects from the state of Hesse that make it to the Hesse state competition are from schools sponsored by Merck. “In addition to this specific sponsorship, it is important to us to promote general scientific education and to show that chemistry is exciting and fun,” explains Christa Jansen, Associate Director of School Sponsorships. With its various offers as an extracurricular place of learning, Merck helps young people in their choice of studies and careers. Through advanced teacher training, innovative technologies such as liquid crystals and OLEDs have even been incorporated into school lessons. In cooperation with the Technical University of Darmstadt, Merck runs a junior chemistry and biology laboratory for pupils. This laboratory has ultramodern equipment that permits entirely new experiments. Internationally, this recipe for success will now be implemented in selected countries.
In addition, Merck is engaged in numerous educational initiatives worldwide to awaken young people’s interest in science. This includes the SPARK program that was launched in early 2016. It motivates employees across the Life Science business sector to volunteer to share their scientific knowledge with students at schools in 192 cities around the world. To date, around 4,500 employees have provided exciting insights into the world of science in classrooms and at Merck sites in 36 countries. More than 60,000 pupils have put on lab coats and had fun conducting hands-on experiments. Through SPARK, Merck collaborates with schools and non-profit organizations, for example the Swiss Science Center Technorama in Winterthur, to teach students about and spark their interest in science. In addition, Merck has launched Curiosity Labs where pupils have the opportunity to conduct experiments on processes such as water filtration or DNA extraction that are part and parcel of daily scientific practice.