SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2014 > Carl Zeiss Foundation

Chairman of the Board of Management Dr. Frank Heinricht (right) explains to Germany’s Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel (left) and Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Chairman of the Foundation Administration of the Carl Zeiss Foundation (center), the advantages that CERAN® glass-ceramic cooktop panels offer. Photo: SCHOTT/ J. Meyer

A Successful Company Model

To mark the 125th anniversary of the Carl Zeiss Foundation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged its historic importance and promising future direction

Dr. Jürgen Steiner

Ernst Abbe, the renowned physicist and co-owner of SCHOTT and Zeiss, established the Carl Zeiss Foundation on May 19, 1889. Now, 125 years later, the Foundation celebrated its birthday at its founding site in Jena.

Abbe created his company model for SCHOTT and Zeiss that is still unique today long before principles such as responsible entrepreneurship, social partnership and sustainability had gained importance. He was strongly influenced by the idea of accepting responsibility for the companies, their employees and society. Abbe arranged for all of the shares to be transferred over to the Foundation to ensure the future of both companies irrespective of the personal interests of the owners. He obligated the Foundation to assume special responsibility for its employees and arranged for the companies’ profits to be used to support the sciences and non-profit interests.

In her speech, German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the initiator of the Foundation, Ernst Abbe, who ”was well ahead of his time,” when he published the Foundation Statute back in 1896, created ”the ideal model of responsible entrepreneurship” and stood up for “principles of social partnership.” Because his ideas flowed into German social legislation later on, the Foundation Statute can be considered “an outstanding document of German economic and social history,” she added. In reference to the Foundation companies, she said, ”Carl Zeiss and SCHOTT are known all over the world for their state-of-the-art technology ‘made in Germany.’ They are flagships of German business. With their innovative products and their commitment to research and development, they have their sights set firmly on the future.” As part of a comprehensive foundation reform, in 2004 the companies Zeiss and SCHOTT were converted into legally independent stock corporations with the Carl Zeiss Foundation as the sole shareholder. At the same time, the Foundation’s aim of supporting the sciences was revived. Since 2007, the Foundation has granted 80 million euros in subsidies to German universities in the Federal States of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia. The Chancellor noted that these funds have been ”invested wisely because money spent to educate highly qualified future employees, research and innovation is an investment in the future.” <
Illustrations: SCHOTT