Jena, Germany—On November 17, 1846—175 years ago—young mechanic Carl Zeiss opened his workshop for precision mechanics and optics in Jena, Germany. In doing so, he lay the foundation for what would become Zeiss. On November 16, Zeiss marked 175 years of innovation with a virtual celebration event at the Volkshaus in the company’s founding city.
During the virtual event, Dr. Karl Lamprecht, president and CEO of the Zeiss Group, praised the company’s successful past. He also celebrated its present and shared his outlook on the future.
“Zeiss’s unique history and its exceptional achievements make it a truly extraordinary company. Its 175 years also demonstrate the company’s high level of resilience and its willingness to accept change. And, above all, Zeiss’s tremendous passion, coupled with its pioneering spirit and its pragmatism in challenging and pushing the limits of the technically feasible,” said Dr. Lamprecht.
“175 years of Zeiss are more than just a historical milestone in our corporate history. It’s also what motivates us to look ahead and help contribute to a bright future shaped by technological innovations.”
Zeiss Marked 175 Years with Celebration
Moreover, in a video message, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German Federal president, congratulated Zeiss employees worldwide: “175 years of Zeiss is much more than an anniversary. Its interplay of entrepreneurial spirit, drive to research as well as inventiveness make the Zeiss Group a pioneer of modern industry.”
In addition, President Steinmeier underlined Zeiss’s responsibility as a foundation-owned company: “Thanks to Ernst Abbe’s visionary realization that economic success, scientific progress and social cohesion all go together, he set up the Carl Zeiss Foundation; paving the way for the company to take entrepreneurial responsibility for the common good.”
“As Zeiss’s sole shareholder, the Carl Zeiss Foundation benefits from the economic success of its foundation company,” added Minister Theresia Bauer, chair of the Carl Zeiss Foundation Administration. “Upwards of 300 million euros were invested in more than 700 research projects since 2007 alone. This makes it one of the largest private foundations in Germany committed to the promotion of science.
“I’d like to thank all our employees for enabling us to promote science through their innovative power,” said Dr. Dieter Kurz, chairman of the Carl Zeiss Foundation Council and chairman of the supervisory board of Carl Zeiss AG and Schott AG.
Further, he analyzed the reasons behind Zeiss’s success: “Zeiss 175 is the fascinating story of an evolution from a small workshop with just one employee in Jena to a global market leader for the optics industry that employs 35,000 people.
“However, it’s a success story that’s not as straightforward as it looks. In fact, it’s a story packed with twists and turns, ups and downs. Its long-term success is possible because core virtues, values and skills have always been protected; while plenty of other aspects have been reinvented time and again. This is part of Zeiss’s innovation culture.”
Zeiss Launches A Heart for Science
In addition, Zeiss took the milestone anniversary as an opportunity to look back over its technology story. After a 5-million-euro donation ($5,658,100) to the Deutsches Museum last summer, Zeiss will now launch its A Heart for Science initiative.
Consequently, the company is expanding its social commitment. It is pooling existing STEM projects in the global initiative to bring kids and teenagers together under one roof. Meanwhile, the foundation is running new activities worldwide.
The Carl Zeiss Foundation was established in 1889. Moreover, it quickly compiled guidelines that have remained key for Zeiss to this very day. The new A Heart for Science initiative is Zeiss’s way of forging a link with this tradition, as it campaigns to encourage young people to pursue the STEM subjects.
New High-Tech Site Built on Founding Site
In addition, Zeiss has invested more than €350 million on a new high-tech site located on the company’s founding site. The new high-tech site in Jena occupies an area measuring approximately 263,000 square feet. It will also accommodate in excess of 2,000 employees.
What’s more, the new facility at Zeiss’s founding site lays the groundwork for further growth at the Zeiss Group. An efficient building, new infrastructure as well as cutting-edge workplaces will all play their role here.