BASF recently announced an international anniversary program to mark its 150th anniversary this year. 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,” said Kurt Bock, Ph.D., chairman of BASF’s Board of Executive Directors. “We see the Creator Space program as a great opportunity to bring BASF closer to our target groups.”

BASF's official anniversary event with invited guests takes place on April 23 in Ludwigshafen, Germany. A highlight of the program 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. In addition, BASF sites around the world are celebrating the 150th anniversary, each in a different way, according to their respective size and culture.


A Worldwide Supplier

BASF’s history began in 1865 with dyes. A few years later, the company began producing ammonia, followed by fertilizer a few years later. Then plastics came along. Since then, the company’s portfolio has evolved to now range 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,” Bock said.

BASF has operated internationally since its beginnings. Shortly after it was founded, the company sold 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,” said Martin Brudermuller, Ph.D., vice chairman of BASF’s Board of Executive Directors. “There was real pioneer work to be done. Today, we are the largest foreign chemical investor in China.”           

BASF’s history in China has been compiled for its anniversary in a book entitled 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.


Unlocking Global Opportunities

In 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion, with 70% of the people living in cities. Any 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 required energy 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 opportunities to think about challenges related to the focus topics of energy, food and urban living and to work toward 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,” Bock said. “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.”

The Creator Space website 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.

“The tour is about personal exchange in an environment that motivates creativity and an urge to design the future,” Brudermuller said. “Employees, customers, scientists, politicians and NGO representatives will all have the opportunity to get involved with the anniversary topics.”

The 2015 tour is scheduled to stop in six cities for one week each: Mumbai in January, then Shanghai, New York, Sao 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, taking place in Ludwigshafen, Chicago, and Shanghai. Renowned scientists from various disciplines are scheduled to meet at each event. Among them are Nobel Prize winners, including physicist and energy politician Steven Chu; 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. Prize-winning German director Thomas Grube will accompany the anniversary activities. Clips of the film, which is scheduled to be released in April 2016, can be viewed at

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