Our mission to improve the health and lives of people worldwide is highly interconnected to a number of critical challenges and global trends that impact human health and well-being, including access to health, resource consumption, climate change, and others.
This is one of the main reasons we have implemented our Tomorrow Re.Imagined platform. We recognize our responsibility to not only provide leading life science products and services that improve health and well-being, but also to do our part to reduce our environmental impacts and improve our natural and community environments as well.
As a leading life science company on the forefront of emerging technologies, we aim to deliver the most innovative, highest-quality products and services to help our customers improve human health and life every day. Our success depends in part on our ability to leverage sustainability to drive innovation and bring new, value-added products and services to our customers. We believe that our products and services really do help our customers contribute to a healthier life for all of us, and we are continually motivated and inspired by this vision.
We believe that life science leadership is also about delivering these leading-edge products and services in a way that meets our responsibility to the environment and the communities in which we and our customers live and work.
As we re-imagine tomorrow, we want to improve access to health for underserved populations. Working at the interface of research tools, diagnostics and chemicals, we collaborate with customers, partners and communities to apply our expertise, core competencies and passion in order to improve lives worldwide.
Our portable Guava PCA flow cytometer product is used to help monitor HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Flow cytometers, once the province of specialists in core labs, have developed into increasingly portable, but still powerful, instruments. Portable systems leverage a patented, micro-capillary technology that eliminates complicated fluidics, reduces waste, and minimizes maintenance-all features essential for use of the instruments in developing areas. The availability of easy-to-use benchtop flow cytometers is a great asset utilized in counting and monitoring T cells for pediatric patients in developing countries.
For example, in remote areas in Cameroon, medical healthcare professionals are using our Guava system to monitor their patients’ immune systems, allowing for results within 45 minutes, without having to send blood samples to urban hospitals. Currently, there are more than 150 Guava systems in use in Sub-Sahara Africa.
We recognize that everyone should have access to clean drinking water. While we are known for supplying water purification products to laboratories and research facilities, we also aim to provide clean drinking water to people around the globe through donations, partnerships and innovative purification and filtration solutions. In addition to providing donations through organizations like charity:water, we leverage our technologies to help improve clean water.
In West Bengal, India, we are working with government authorities to set up water testing labs and awareness campaigns throughout the region to prevent arsenic poisoning from contaminated groundwater. Due to special geological conditions, India's drinking water is often contaminated with arsenic, fluorides, and iron compounds that occur naturally in the soil. Arsenic, in particular, slowly poisons people over a period of years or even decades. Our water testing systems are helping to detect these toxic substances in drinking water.
Some of our products can also be used to help drive alternative energy solutions. In addition to supporting various access to health initiatives, our bench-top Guava HT series flow cytometer is helping to drive biofuel research and development. Assays have been developed on the Guava instruments for research and production of oils from algae and the production of fuels from bacteria.
Biofuel production from algae begins with species selection. Of the more than 10,000 species of algae, about 300 species produce the proper lipids required to develop oil. Our powerful Incyte™ software exclusive to the Guava instruments allows multi-faceted intracellular testing to determine which species will maximize lipid production. The Guava instruments count and measure the cells for viability, chlorophyll content, chlorophyll phenotyping, and lipid content to determine the species that will achieve maximum production. Once the algae is harvested, and lipids are separated to produce algae crude, this material is refined to develop different grades of oil used in the production of biofuels and lubricants. This algae diesel has been used to power commercial airplanes and has even been used by the U.S. Navy in their destroyers.
Furthermore, our Guava instruments help to count and test the viability of bacteria, which are being used in the production of ethanol from sugar. Companies are developing these “super bugs” to digest sugars to produce gases that are refined into ethanol. The Guava instruments also measure the cell growth of bacteria populations. We will continue to work with our customers to help develop technologies used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance alternative energy solutions, like biofuels production.
Often the products we sell are raw materials and key inputs into our customers’ processes. As a result, we are not only looking to see what we can do to improve materials use and processing in our own manufacturing, but we are also focused on helping to reduce impacts for our customers. We recognize that pharmaceuticals in the environment are a concern for our customers, specifically in terms of societal, health and environmental impacts. To help address this issue, we are focused on improving the bioavailability of drugs.
To further collaborate with our customers and expand our capabilities in bioavailability enhancement, we opened a new R&D Center for Formulation in Darmstadt, Germany. We are partnering with the pharmaceutical industry to develop new and innovative materials and delivery systems to better enable them to develop drugs that can be more readily absorbed and thus less excreted. The center combines state-of-the-art formulation, analytical and synthetic labs as well as a fully-equipped customer training center in a single facility. The center will accelerate growth of the company's portfolio of innovative technologies and products that overcome bioavailability and formulation challenges and will provide hands-on support to assist customers in their drug development. There is a clear market need for a comprehensive set of innovative products and technologies to support bioavailability enhancement. At our new center for Formulation, we can help customers overcome formulation-related challenges, such as insufficient active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) performance due to poor solubility and life cycle management developments, in a more effective and efficient manner.
In addition to the contributions that our current products and services make to address global challenges, we are continually exploring new products and opportunities that can positively impact human health and well-being.
One channel for employees to bring these innovative solutions to the table is through Merck KGaA’s Innospire Challenge. Launched in 2009, Innospire was developed to stimulate the idea sourcing from employees of every division in the company and capture Merck KGaA’s full innovation potential.
The 2012 winning Fuel Cells project uses Merck membranes to construct less expensive and more heat tolerant fuel cells that can serve as the foundation for more efficient renewable energy sources, such as a new technology for clean vehicles that will produce zero emissions and be commercially viable for customers. With the expansion of the project, the Merck and Performance Materials cross-divisional project team has tripled and is now focused on scaling up the project with testing and production.
In 2013, the Innospire Challenge specified water efficiency, handling and purification as one preferred focus area due to increasing global water stress and fresh water scarcity. A second focus area on energy energy encouraged solutions with respect to efficiency, energy conversion and clean energy.