Johannesburg, South Africa – January 29, 2015 – BASF is turning 150 in 2015. The company began in Germany in 1865 with the development and production of dyes. The production of ammonia in order to make fertiliser followed a few years later and then plastics came along. Since then, our company’s portfolio has continuously developed and evolved and today our product range covers a wide spectrum of industries from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection to oil and gas. BASF has operated internationally since its beginnings. We supply customers in nearly every industry with products and solutions, and support them with research and innovations.
It is a great achievement for any company to remain successful for so many years. For BASF this number speaks to the creativity and determination of our employees – in the past and the present. For 150 years, they have managed to find the right balance between risk-taking and responsibility.
Since BASF is a science and research-based company, we strive to be more innovative and progressive in celebrating our global and local anniversary. A pre-requisite was that our anniversary concept had to be connected to our strategy and our corporate purpose: “We create chemistry for a sustainable future.”
This statement expresses what has made, and continues to make, us successful. It encompasses three key concepts: We develop innovations; we do this together with others; the solutions we develop help make the future more sustainable.
Over the years this winning recipe has not changed: We recognize societal trends and the needs of people; with research and development we find new and innovative solutions to meet these challenges, again and again. Laurent Tainturier, Senior Vice President for EUE region, including CIS-Middle East-Africa explains: “Today’s requirements and the expectations of society are much more complex. But our focus is still on improving people’s quality of life. This, however, should not come at the expense of the next generations. When we conduct research today, we keep one guiding principle in mind: sustainability. We treat resources with care and respect and strive to strike a balance between all three dimensions: economy, environment and society.”
Addressing challenging issues around energy, food and urban living Laurent Tainturier adds: “It is critical that a company such as BASF addresses the challenges facing our planet, including those of energy and food resources, as well as urban living. In 2050, the world’s population will reach 9 billion with 70% of the people will living in cities. Resources are already scarce and we have only reached almost seven billion people. Everyone needs a roof over their head, clean water, and electricity. This poses a tremendous challenge, especially in Africa and the megacities of the developing world, as – people want to be mobile and move around. To feed nine billion people in 2050, we will need twice as much food as today.
How can that be accomplished if we can’t double the amount of farmland?
Collaboration to innovate
From its early beginnings, BASF has always had innovative and collaborative culture. BASF continues to work closely with university researchers, scientists and chemists who have provided the cornerstones for our research. Compared with the past, today’s joint endeavours involve many more disciplines. The construction of a wind power turbine, for example, requires a team of researchers, developers and market experts. It is not only about improving material properties, but – more importantly – ensuring they fit and work together in the best possible way. This means that, within BASF itself, we need to work across different divisions and combine the knowledge of many experts. We need to consider solutions together with customers and scientists.
Joan-Maria Garcia-Girona, Vice President, and head of BASF in South Africa and Sub-Sahara explains: “We see our anniversary as an opportunity to open up in ways that go beyond these proven collaborations. The way innovations arise has changed considerably compared to the past. This is because of new methods of communication as well as a different self-awareness and changed expectations of people. They want to solve societal problems and make their contribution. They discuss online, on blogs and social networks. We are convinced that when we add the expertise from chemistry and other industries to these ideas, we will be closer to finding answers for the challenges of today and tomorrow. We want to initiate something new with our anniversary and try out new ways of working together over the next year – both within BASF and with people outside the company. We see the Creator SpaceTM program as a great opportunity to bring BASF closer to our target groups.”
Using new ways to communicate and collaborate: Creator
SpaceTM program BASF’s global and local anniversary program is envisaged as a virtual laboratory – the “Creator SpaceTM program, in which we can try out new ways of working together over the next year and beyond – within BASF and with other stakeholders i.e. customers, scientists, and other communities. It is interactive and brought to life by the ideas and discussions of its visitors. The three anniversary topics posted focus on urban living, energy, and food. These ideas and solutions from the virtual discussions are then fed back into other collaborative and co-creative anniversary activities such as Creator
Space Tour, which will take place in India, China, USA, South America, Spain and Germany.
The South African anniversary program
The South African anniversary program sees a number of highly interactive events being hosted throughout the region involving scientists, customers, business partners and employees. Again, the focus will be on the three strategic global topics of energy, food and urban living. Events will range from employee jamming sessions which will challenge staff across all levels to come up with innovative solutions to societal issues, to participation in leading national science festivals and competitions.