Bayer is more than just a company. This is demonstrated by the new Baykomm: at the Bayer Communication Center in Leverkusen, visitors are given insights into the fascinating world of Bayer research and learn how the company improves the lives of people around the world through its innovations.
Raymond Alvarado from Pittsburgh finds it very relaxing on the beach in Florida as he tiptoes across the floor. “I’m walking through the water right now,” he explains while his colleagues stand around his chair impatiently, waiting for their turn to finally put on the virtual reality glasses. Finally he relents and takes off the glasses, and suddenly he’s back in autumnal Leverkusen where the wind blows the leaves through the park outside the glass walls of Baykomm.
The new Baykomm is designed to awaken people’s curiosity and appeal to customers, partners and employees alike.
Alvarado works as an IT project manager at Bayer Business Services in the United States. Together with a number of German and American colleagues, he booked a tour of the company’s new Communication Center. The complete renovation of the exhibition rooms took six months. It reopened on September 1, 2016 and now features a new design and transparent architecture.
“Baykomm has proven its value as a visitor center for Bayer in Leverkusen for the past 25 years, but with the company’s realignment toward the life sciences, it was necessary to extensively modernize the center,” says Baykomm Head Thomas Helfrich. “The new Baykomm is designed to awaken people’s curiosity and appeal to customers, partners and employees alike.”
Using digital media and activity stations, visitors can learn about Bayer’s fields of business and become active themselves: touching, testing, trying out – that is the Baykomm concept. “The aim of the brand space is to give employees and visitors from outside the company an exciting, understandable and attractive experience of Bayer,” says Sven Theobald, Head of Live & Experience Branding. “It is a flagship for the Bayer brand and is designed to show how our innovations help make life better for people on a daily basis.” Baykomm is the living room of Bayer, so to speak.
The brand space is a flagship for the Bayer brand and is designed to
show how our innovations help make life better for people on a daily basis.
In any case, the IT experts from the United States soon feel at home and immediately try out the activity stations: in the virtual reality chairs, they can be transported through 360 degree films to distant places where Bayer lastingly changes people’s daily lives with its products. In the not quite real body scanner, they can take a look at their internal organs. In the scent box, they can vote on whether Bayer should preferably smell like cinnamon or mint. And in the aging suit, they can see the world from the perspective of an 80-year-old: weights make movement more difficult, a visor reduces visual acuity and gloves desensitize the fingers – and all of a sudden, everyday movements aren’t quite so easy anymore.
In addition, three info sections relate more about the many different facets of the company: a shelf full of exciting and curious exhibits recalls Bayer’s history and identity, in which a soccer ball, a movie camera and a lion are among the items that play a role. And an interactive map shows at which of its sites around the world the company is currently looking for employees. Raymond Alvarado taps the touch screen for the fun of it. “Barcelona – yeah, I might like it there.” In the lobby, a continuing stream of new, up-to-date numbers are displayed on a digital wall that show the global and social challenges in the life sciences health care and agriculture. And right next to the entrance, the company introduces itself to visitors with the most important key data at a glance.
Baykomm Has a lot to Offer
In addition to the interactive exhibition, there are numerous other events in the Bayer Communication Center that teach visitors about the fascinating world of life sciences. For example, the “Baylab” laboratory for schoolchildren regularly offers lab days in order to awaken curiosity about science among young people. Here the children become researchers themselves and experiment under the instruction of experienced scientists.
Baykomm also regularly organizes public presentations on exciting topics related to Bayer’s fields of activity, and in the seminar rooms, specialist groups can develop projects on specific issues. Furthermore, the lobby offers space for constantly changing exhibitions. The presentations enable visitors to experience the company in various ways and provide different access paths to the major Bayer themes of science and life.
Alvarado particularly likes the open architecture with the full glass walls that look out into the Japanese garden. “It’s a fantastic backdrop – nature has such a calm and relaxing effect,” he says before heading over to the photo station for a group photo that will serve as a memento of the day.
“We’re currently giving group tours of Baykomm every day,” explains visitor guide Monika Papst-Schumacher. “Yet many visitors also take a look around on their own.” A class of high school seniors from Hamburg is scheduled to take a tour in the afternoon. Papst-Schumacher immediately captivates the students with the history of Aspirin. Standing next to the bookshelf, she tells anecdotes about the exhibits. And at one of the large projection monitors, she displays facts related to Bayer’s fields of activity: Why does the development of a new pharmaceutical cost so much and why does it take about twelve years? How did the city of Leverkusen develop? And why is a soccer-ball-sized model of a mite sitting on the shelf?
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“It’s quite exciting to learn about all the areas Bayer is involved in,” says Livia de Boer. “Until now I didn’t know it was one of the biggest crop protection and seed companies.” Yet the 17-year-old school student is particularly interested in the interactive technology. “It’s very modern.” She grabs one of the ScienceBoards – plate-sized discs that have to be moved in order to call up information, pictures and games. Now Livia is occupied for the time being.
By this time, Raymond Alvarado is already on the plane back to Pittsburgh. He plans to tell his colleagues about Baykomm. Maybe they’ll be able to try out some of the activity stations soon – without having to fly all the way to Germany to do so. That’s because Baykomm is a modular system that can be partially or fully recreated at Bayer’s sites around the globe. After all, Bayer is at home all over the world.