Bayer eyes breakthrough innovations in life sciences

April 06, 2022 - 12:25
Science company Bayer has said it is accelerating investment in its Leaps by Bayer impact investment unit with more than 1.3 billion euros (US$1.4 billion) by 2024.

Bayer Breakthrough Innovation Forum focused on longer-term opportunities for health and agriculture leveraging emerging technologies. 

Leverkusen, GERMANY — Science company Bayer has said it is accelerating investment in its Leaps by Bayer impact investment unit with more than 1.3 billion euros (US$1.4 billion) by 2024.

The announcement came at the first ever Breakthrough Innovation Forum, which focused on longer-term opportunities for health and agriculture leveraging emerging technologies.

The event followed Bayer’s recent short- and mid-term pipeline updates for its pharma and crop science divisions, and shared further insights on the company’s ongoing progress to drive long-term breakthrough innovations in life sciences.

“We stand at the dawn of a new age of innovation in life sciences,” Werner Baumann, chairman of the board of management of Bayer AG, said.

“Our ability to tackle some of the greatest challenges is increasing rapidly. From providing answers for incurable diseases and equipping people with preventive tools to live healthier, better and longer lives, to producing more agricultural output while significantly reducing inputs and respecting the planetary boundaries.

“This ability is particularly driven by the accelerating confluence of biology, chemistry, advanced computing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. As a leader in health and nutrition, Bayer is further stepping up its efforts to be a driver of this new era of innovation.

“Ultimately, better innovation is the engine that drives superior business results and outperformance.”

Leaps by Bayer follow a unique approach aimed at tackling 10 of humanity’s biggest challenges such as curing cancer and reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.

Jürgen Eckhardt, head of Leaps by Bayer, said, “Over the past seven years we have invested more than 1.3 billion euros across a portfolio comprising more than 50 companies, all geared towards shifting core paradigms in the sectors of health and agriculture.”

Leaps has embarked on numerous joint ventures such as JoynBio and BlueRock Therapeutics, which is now fully owned by Bayer, and successfully led several investment rounds.

Driving breakthrough innovations in health and agriculture

The event also provided tangible examples of Bayer’s ongoing work to change paradigms in life sciences.

In health, this new era of innovation is expected to significantly enlarge the toolbox of technologies and enable scientists around the world to address areas of high unmet medical need.

Bayer is investing a lot in new areas of biomedical innovation, especially in the fields of cell and gene therapies.

In the last three years it has invested more than 2.5 billion euros to build a cell & gene therapy platform, which included the acquisitions of BlueRock Therapeutics and Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio).

It is also collaborating with Atara Biotherapeutics and Mammoth Biosciences to leverage the joint advantages to drive innovation.

In agriculture, Bayer is building on emerging new technologies to create a sustainable and resilient food system and help farmers around the world produce more with fewer resources while reducing emissions and removing carbon from the atmosphere.

“Bayer’s R&D investment of two billion euros annually in our crop science division is unparalleled in the industry, leading to a robust innovation pipeline spanning seeds and trait technologies, crop protection and digital solutions valued at up to 30 billion euros peak sales potential over the next two decades – with approximately half accounting for incremental growth,” Rodrigo Santos, member of the board of Bayer AG and president of the crop science division, said.

The company said it not only continues to embed sustainability into its operations, but also adopts approaches to strengthening the resilience of farmers and the food value chain at a systems level.

To this end, it began a pilot project in 2021 to help rice farmers in India adopt sustainable practices and get paid for the greenhouse gas emissions they avoided through carbon credits.

Importantly, this initiative supports the expansion of regenerative agriculture, improvement in natural resource management and farmer productivity and livelihoods.

Under the project, Bayer is committed to end-to-end handholding of farmers in association with various partners like the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), local agricultural universities, food chain companies, and farmers trained in sustainable practices.

“Leveraging our learnings from this initiative and scaling our efforts can advance conservation agriculture, reduce carbon emissions from agriculture, support agricultural development, and promote sustainable use of water resources in regions increasingly prone to water scarcity,” the company said. VNS