German powerhouse BASF turns 150 in 2015. The company announced its anniversary program in an international press conference held in Ludwigshafen. In addition to celebrations and a historical retrospective, BASF has prepared a global co-creation program with partners on the topics of energy, food and urban living. As part of this program, called Creator Space, BASF is taking a new approach in accordance with its “We create chemistry” strategy.
“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 Space program as a great opportunity to bring BASF closer to our target groups,” said Dr. Kurt Bock, chairman of BASF’s Board of Executive Directors.
BASF’s official anniversary event with invited guests will take place on April 23, in Ludwigshafen. A special highlight will be the premiere of the anniversary musical composition, “Sounds for 150,” for which employees worldwide recorded more than 1,200 typical BASF sounds. The composer is Michael Nyman.
BASF sites around the world are celebrating the 150th anniversary, each in a different way, according to their respective size and culture.
From Ludwigshafen into the World
BASF’s history started in 1865 with dyes. Ammonia production followed a few years later in order to make fertilizer. Then, plastics came along. Since then the company’s portfolio has continuously developed and today it ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection to oil and gas. BASF supplies customers in nearly every industry with products and solutions and supports them with research and innovations. “Being successful for so many years speaks for the creativity and determination of BASF’s employees—past and present,” said Bock.
BASF has operated internationally since its beginnings. Shortly after it was founded, BASF was selling its dyes worldwide. In 1885, BASF sent a manager to China with the aim of seeking opportunities for the company. “At the time, China was a new market on a largely unknown continent. There was real pioneer work to be done. Today, we are the largest foreign chemical investor in China,” said Dr. Martin Brudermüller, Vice Chairman of BASF’s Board of Executive Directors.
BASF’s history in China has been compiled for its anniversary in a book titled “Breaking New Ground.” The book was written by Michael Grabicki, the longtime head of BASF’s media relations team, and will be published in English, German and Chinese.
In 2050, the world’s population will reach nine billion. Seventy percent of the people will live in cities. A company that works on a global scale has to look at issues from the perspectives of different markets and understand local requirements. What will the cities of the future look like? Where will the energy that is needed come from? How can there be enough healthy food for everyone? The answers to these questions will be quite different from region to region.
The Creator Space program unlocks numerous opportunities to think about challenges related to the focus topics energy, food and urban living and to work towards solutions, both virtually and in person. “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. For society, these are solutions. For BASF, these are business opportunities. The better we understand market needs, the better our innovations will be—regardless of whether we’re talking about products, entire systems or new business models,” said Bock.
The Web site Creator Space online went live in September 2014. More than 2,000 participants are currently exchanging ideas in real-time on the three anniversary topics: urban living, energy, and food. The ideas and solutions from Creator Space online will be fed into other anniversary activities such as the Creator Space tour. Brudermüller: “The tour is about personal exchange in an environment that motivates creativity and an urge to design the future. Employees, customers, scientists, politicians and NGO representatives will all have the opportunity to get involved with the anniversary topics.”
The 2015 tour will stop for one week each in six cities: in January in Mumbai, and then in Shanghai, New York, São Paulo, Barcelona and Ludwigshafen. It provides space for workshops, conferences, idea competitions and cultural events. Each stop concentrates on one challenge that is particularly important for that city or country.
As part of the Creator Space program, BASF is also planning three high-level science symposia—in Ludwigshafen, Chicago and Shanghai. Renowned scientists from various disciplines will meet at each event. Among them are Nobel Prize winners including the physicist and energy politician Steven Chu, the chemist Jean-Marie Lehn, and Frances Arnold, the pioneer of evolution in a test tube. In total, discussions with more than 1,500 guests from science, politics and industry will take place.
A documentary film spanning the entire anniversary year will be produced to capture some of the most interesting, beautiful and emotional moments. The prize-winning director, Thomas Grube, will accompany the anniversary activities. The film will be available in April 2016. Before that, clips can be viewed on www.creator-space.basf.com.