Innovation is a cornerstone of our purpose “Science for a better life” and a core element of our strategy. We define innovations as new solutions that generate added value for our customers and society. Our activities focus on innovative products based on our strong research and development competencies. They are accompanied by process, service and business model innovation.
With our innovative solutions, we are responding to the global challenges in medical care and the need to safeguard an adequate food supply. Here we focus on three key elements: excellence in research and development, the application of groundbreaking technologies, and open innovation.
Partnerships are integral to our innovation strategy. That is why we work within a network of alliances with start-ups, academic institutes, industry, suppliers and other partners. Our open innovation network spans all parts of the company along the value chain. Our open innovation portal offers a platform for collaborations in all parts of the company. We also invest in venture capital funds that finance life science start-up companies, among other projects.
With our strategic innovation unit, the Leaps by Bayer, we focus on new groundbreaking technologies. In May 2016, Bayer and ERS Genomics, Ireland, signed an agreement giving Bayer access to ERS’s CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing patents. The agreement granted Bayer rights for defined research applications of this technology in selected strategic areas. In August 2016, Casebia Therapeutics, a company established by Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics in March 2016, launched operations in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and San Francisco, California, United States. The goal of Casebia Therapeutics is to develop new, trend-setting therapeutics to treat blood diseases, blindness and congenital heart disease. In December 2016, Bayer and Versant Ventures established the company BlueRock Therapeutics, which will be active in the area of regenerative medicine. The company plans to develop highly efficient therapies based on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to cure various cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders and diseases of the central nervous system.
Globally reliable protection of intellectual property rights is particularly relevant for an innovation company like Bayer. We therefore endeavor to obtain patent protection for our products and technologies in the major markets depending on the legal framework. At the end of 2017, we owned approximately 48,100 valid patent applications and patents worldwide relating to more than 4,700 protected inventions.