Merck: Innovating Through Science and Technology for a Sustainable Future For All

Global science and technology company Merck is celebrating 35 years in Taiwan. The company’s presence here covers its three core business sectors: Life Science, Electronics, and Healthcare. 

“Looking back over the past 35 years, Merck in Taiwan started as a trading company and has now evolved into an innovation partner to many of the Taiwanese powerhouse companies in the semiconductor and display industries. Our biopharma business is also pioneering breakthrough innovations to help create, improve, and prolong lives.” says Managing Director of Merck Group Taiwan John Lee. The company now operates 11 sites across Taiwan employing 1,100 people. 

Known in the industry as “the company behind companies advancing digital living,” Merck is driving some of the world’s most significant technological breakthroughs. While most end-users remain unaware, Merck’s material and device solutions are essential for enabling the most advanced display and high-speed data processing capabilities for smartphones and computers.  

In 2021, as a key player in Taiwan’s industry landscape, Merck announced a further investment of US$537 million over the next five to seven years, focusing on building a semiconductor mega site in Kaohsiung for upstream materials and equipment, as well as further strengthening its capabilities and local supply chain resilience. This investment, the largest single investment done by its Electronics business sector globally, underscores the company’s deep commitment to the Taiwan market and making Merck one of the largest foreign investors in Taiwan. 

Integrated Approach to Sustainable Innovation 

As awareness of sustainability grows and the need for greener products becomes more pressing, the company is exploring ways to ensure that its innovations offer inherent environmental benefits.  

To securing Merck’s leadership position in the industry, analyzing industry megatrends and anticipating future developments is imperative for its sustainability endeavors. One such area is artificial intelligence, which despite its potential to spur innovation poses significant challenges related to power consumption. As advanced chips will demand more energy, Merck is enhancing its material intelligence to address this challenge. Lee notes that Merck is already employing atomic level deposition techniques, which are essential for developing the next generation of high-tech chips.  

The company’s ’design for sustainability’ concept begins from the R&D stage to make sure the materials used and the synthesis routes better meet sustainability requirements. Smart manufacturing is also important as big data and digital tools effectively increase yield rates and productivity, meaning energy usage and waste are reduced. “If we can make the entire process more sustainable, then our customers can create better, greener end products, and can pass on that benefit to their customers – the consumers.” Lee says.  

Support Local Industries and Sustainable Development 

Merck’s commitment extends beyond just providing cutting-edge technologies to semiconductor industry. Given Taiwan’s strength in biopharma development, the company has established an M Lab Collaboration Center in Taiwan. By partnering with clients in the biopharma industry, Merck endeavors to enhance and optimize drug research, development, and manufacturing, employing digital solutions to accelerate pharmaceuticals’ time to market.  

The company plans to expand its footprint in Taiwan through new facilities, while also enhancing sustainability through the implementation of local manufacturing practices. This initiative eliminates the need to ship materials and products to and from Taiwan. Additionally, the company is collaborating with its suppliers, customers, and stakeholders to integrate sustainable practices throughout the entire value chain. 

Culture of Empowerment and Long-Term Commitment 

Recognizing that the company’s continued success depends on supporting every employee to reach their full potential, Merck has built an inclusive and family-friendly work environment. Additionally, the company has implemented a “future ways of work” initiative to further enhance work flexibility. “We give autonomy to employees to decide how they work, how they lead the team, and how they grow themselves. We find employees are more motivated.” says Lee.  

Although Merck has been operating in Taiwan for over three decades, this period represents only a tenth of the time since its founding in 1668. Lee notes that at Merck, time is measured not in quarters, but in decades. This long-term perspective exemplifies the company’s commitment to sustainable business.  

Lee says the next chapter in Merck’s story will focus on achieving their ESG goals. “Within the next decade, we will achieve human progress for more than one billion people, which is roughly 10% of the global population,” he says. “This prospect is very exciting, and we will continue to make a positive impact on human health and wellbeing through sustainable science & technology.”