Bayer hosted its first-ever Breakthrough Innovation Forum, focusing on longer-term opportunities for health and agriculture by leveraging emerging technologies.
“The confluence of biology, chemistry and data science offers the possibility of solving some of the world’s greatest challenges. But that opportunity only exists for companies and scientists who dare to ask “what if”.
These were the words of Werner Baumann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer AG, when he opened the company’s first breakthrough innovation forum on April 1. Guided by a strong belief in the endless possibilities of human creativity, the forum focused on how emerging technologies can provide longer-term opportunities for health and agriculture.
Bayer, a global company with core competencies in the areas of life sciences, health and nutrition, recently updated the short- and medium-term pipeline of its Pharma and Crop Science divisions to drive innovations at long term in the life sciences. Alongside the event, Bayer announced it was accelerating investments in its impact investing unit Leaps by Bayer, pledging over €1.3 billion in funding through the end of 2024 .
“With Bayer ramping up its investment in Leaps over the next few years, we can continue on the right track and provide funding to the brightest minds working on solutions that truly make a difference for people and the planet,” said Jürgen Eckhardt, Head of Leaps by Bayer.
Leaps by Bayer takes a unique approach to addressing ten of humanity’s greatest challenges, including curing cancer and reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. The unit has embarked on numerous joint ventures and has led several successful investment rounds.
Over the past three years, Bayer has invested more than 2.5 billion euros to build a cell and gene therapy platform. The company is also driving innovation in the field through strategic partnerships that have resulted in eight projects in various stages of clinical development and leading programs in Parkinson’s disease, Pompe disease and congestive heart failure. .
One of the critical acquisitions made to accelerate gene therapy research is that of AskBio, a leading clinical-stage adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy company dedicated to improving the lives of patients. with rare diseases and other illnesses.
“As we finally succeed in bringing genetic medicines to address unmet needs. These drugs have the potential to treat much larger populations of complex diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Jude Samulski, President, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of ‘AskBio at the forum.
In agriculture, Bayer is using the power of emerging technologies to create a sustainable and resilient food system and help farmers produce more with fewer resources and reduced emissions. Bayer’s investment in crop science R&D is unprecedented in the industry at €2 billion per year, and the company has a strong innovation pipeline spanning seed and trait technologies, crop protection and digital solutions valued at peak sales potential of up to €30 billion over the next few years. two decades.
“The environmental health and nutrition challenges we face are enormous,” said Rodrigo Santos, president of Bayer’s Crop Science division, who stressed the importance of immediate action to address insecurity. food and climate change. Santos added that Bayer is “in a unique position to lead a revolution in agriculture. And perhaps more importantly, we also recognize that we have a responsibility to do so.
One of the ways Bayer is leading the decarbonization of agriculture is through its digital agriculture platform, the Bayer Carbon Initiative, which engages farmers to use climate-smart practices and uses next-generation technology. to quantify and monitor the impact of these practices.
Bayer also launched the world’s first biotech defense against corn rootworm based on RNAi technology. Its short corn will be launched under Bayer’s new Smart Corn System in 2023 as the most weather-resistant crop on the market. Other initiatives include collaborations and acquisitions, such as that of Oerth Bio, the only company in the world to design protein modulators targeted specifically for phytosanitary applications.
Bob Reiter, head of research and development for Bayer’s Crop Science division, noted at the forum that these types of technologies are “really win-wins for farmers and sustainability, and we’re excited about the potential this technology represents for a whole host”. applications in the future.