What lies within


Bayer is looking to ‘modestly’ increase its R&D budget next year – it was €3 billion (£2.4 billion) for 2012 – and place new emphasis on transferring ideas between research areas within the company, according to chief executive Marijn Dekkers. Bayer has kept its annual R&D budget at about €3 billion since 2010.

Bayer says its crop science pipeline has peak sales potential of over €4 billion © Bayer

Speaking at a press event in Leverkusen, Germany, Dekkers highlighted past successes that had come about as a result of the diversity of research at Bayer.

Imidacloprid, a nicotinoid that disrupts the central nervous system in insects, was developed as a pesticide against aphids but later adapted for use controlling tics and fleas on animals, for example. Similarly, ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinoline antibiotic used to treat a range of infections in humans led to the development of structurally related compound enrofloxacin, which is used to treat infections in animals.

‘Bayer has a unique starting point because we have comprehensive expertise in human, animal and plant health,’ Dekkers said. ‘We aim to systematically explore the interfaces between these areas to identify the potential for new products.’

Bayer might have even more interfaces today were it not for the 2004–2005 spinoff of its speciality chemical business, Lanxess, now worth €8.8 billion in annual sales. But its hefty R&D budget is nonetheless spread across several quite different disciplines. The pharmaceuticals unit accounts for two thirds, crop science (agrichemicals and seeds) a quarter and the materials (predominantly high end polymers) unit gets what’s left – about 8%.

Dekkers took the opportunity to highlight the recent successes of anti-coagulant rivaroxaban, marketed as Xarelto, which he says has the potential to generate annual sales of $2 billion. He also mentioned the project to commercialise the production of raw materials from waste carbon dioxide, which is now at the pilot plant stage.

Board member Wolfgang Plischke added that external collaboration was also very important. Companies and institutes globally spend $275 billion annually on life sciences R&D. Bayer accounts for just 1% of that. If the company is to get the maximum value out of its spending, it needs to work with others. Plischke said one quarter of the €3 billion Bayer R&D budget goes into projects with external partners.


Related Content

Bayer wins race to buy Merck & Co consumer care

9 May 2014 Business

news image

$14bn deal will make Aspirin inventor the number two over-the-counter healthcare company

Bayer spends $1.2bn on supplement maker

31 October 2012 Business

news image

Schiff nutrition will strengthen Bayer in the US

Most Read

Quintuple bond activates small stable molecules

19 September 2014 Research

news image

Exotic complexes suggest route to synthetic feedstock

Computer simulations point to formamide as prebiotic intermediate in ‘Miller’ mixtures

16 September 2014 News and Analysis

news image

Electric field may have provided more than just energy for primordial chemistry

Most Commented

US genomics lead being lost to China

17 September 2014 News and Analysis

news image

NIH senior leaders are sounding the alarm bells, saying the US's pre-eminence in genomics research is under threat

The trouble with boycotts

29 August 2014 Critical Point

news image

Cutting academic ties with a censured state can do more harm than good, says Mark Peplow