Our Healthcare business sector comprises the four businesses Biopharma, Consumer Health, Biosimilars, and Allergopharma. In 2015, the Healthcare business sector generated 54% of Group sales and 50% of EBITDApre exceptionals (excluding Corporate and Other), making it the largest of our three business sectors.
Since January 1, 2015, Belén Garijo has been the member of the Executive Board responsible for the Healthcare business sector. The regions of Europe and North America generated 60% of net sales in 2015. In recent years, we have steadily expanded the presence of the Healthcare business sector in growth markets. In 2015, the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions accounted for 34% of its sales.
Our Biopharma business discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets innovative pharmaceutical and biological prescription drugs to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), infertility and growth disorders, as well as certain cardiovascular andmetabolic diseases. With headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, we offer leading brands in specialty medicine indications. We are advancing our research and development (R&D) portfolio across the areas of oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology, and continue to invest in developing programs in multiple sclerosis. With our expertise in discovery and early development, as well as approximately 25 projects in clinical development, we are focused on delivering differentiated new therapies to patients with unmet medical needs.
Biopharma’s top-selling medicine is Rebif®(interferon beta-1a), an important product for people living with MS. Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common neurological diseases among young adults. We signaled our continuing commitment to this disease area on September 11, 2015, when we announced that we had submitted a letter of intent to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to file a Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) for our investigational treatment cladribine tablets. The letter initiates a process to address pre-submission requirements. Submission plans for other parts of the world are being further developed and executed.
Erbitux® is the second best-selling drug in the portfolio of the Biopharma business and its flagship product in oncology. The product is a standard of care in multiple lines of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) therapy as well as of both recurrent / metastatic and locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head & neck (SCCHN).
In November 2014, Merck entered into a global strategic alliance with Pfizer Inc. to develop and commercialize avelumab*, an investigational anti-PD-L1 antibody initially discovered and developed by us and currently in co-development as a potential treatment for multiple tumor types. The alliance is designed to boost the two companies’ presence in immuno-oncology. Both companies have also agreed to combine resources and expertise to advance Pfizer’s preclinical-stage anti-PD-1 antibody (PF-06801591) into Phase I trials. In 2015, together with Pfizer we initiated six pivotal trials for avelumab, including first- and second-line non-small cell lung cancer (NSLC), platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, first- and third-linegastric cancer, and first-line bladder cancer. Additionally, avelumab is currently being investigated in a Phase II study of patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma.
* Avelumab is the proposed International Nonproprietary Name (INN) for the anti-PD-L1
monoclonal antibody, previously known asMSB0010718C.
As part of the strategic alliance, we are co-promoting Pfizer’s anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitor Xalkori® (crizotinib), a medicine to treat ALK+ metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, in the United States and several other key markets. Under the agreement, Xalkori® is being co-promoted in two waves, the first of which started in the second and third quarters of 2015 in the United States, Canada, Japan and five European Union countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom). In the United States and Canada, Xalkori®is being co-promoted by EMD Serono, the brand under which our U.S. and Canadian Biopharma business operates. The second wave will begin in 2016 and includes China and Turkey.
The co-promotion term will last through December 31, 2020 for Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. It will run from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2021 in China and Turkey. In the first year, we will receive compensation associated with ourpromotion of Xalkori®, followed by an 80% (Pfizer), 20% (Merck) profit sharing on the product in subsequent years.
On December 7, 2015, we announced our decision not to pursue evofosfamide (hypoxia-activated prodrug) further in soft tissue sarcoma and pancreatic cancer since, despite signs of activity in locally advanced and metastatic pancreatic cancer, two Phase III studies did not meet pre-specified primary endpoints. We therefore decided not to pursue the evofosfamide development program further.
Our Biopharma business also offers products that help couples to conceive a child. The products in our Fertility franchise are an important growth driver for our Biopharma business with an increasing demand in growth markets and the trend of couples postponing childbearing until later in life when natural fertility is in decline. As market leader and innovator, we are the only company that has a complete and clinically proven portfolio of fertility drugs for every stage of the reproductive cycle, including recombinant versions of the three hormonesneeded to treat infertility. We combine an over 60-year heritage of fertility expertise and are committed to improving treatment outcomes, as well as developing and providing innovative products and devices. In 2015, we won the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2015 for our fertility pens, used to inject hormones for follicle stimulation.
To build on our strengths in fertility hormones, we are offering an additional comprehensive portfolio of highly innovative fertility technologies from incubation to freezing. This comprises the Gavi™, Geri™ and Gems™ product lines. Gavi™ is the world’s first automated vitrification instrument, using an automated and standardized laboratory protocol. Geri™ is an innovative benchtop incubator with individually controlled incubation chambers per patient to minimize disruptive events to the early-stage embryo. Gems™ is the latest generation of Genea Biomedx culture media allowing for high quality embryo cultivation. Gavi™, and Geri™ received the CE mark clearance in Europe in 2015. The three product lines have not yet been cleared for use in the United States.
To further strengthen our offering, our Biopharma business established the joint development hub ARTinnovationstogether with Genea. Founded to develop an innovative pipeline of fertility technologies and services, ARTinnovations helps to support patients undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) and provides Healthcare professionals with innovations to generate objective information to make important treatment decisions. Furthermore, we formed the Global Fertility Alliance, a collaboration with Illumina Inc. and Genea Ltd to advance excellence and standardization in Fertility.
Also in 2015, we launched a new version of the Eeva® Testwith the Xtend Algorithm, the advanced version of a non-invasivetest to aid embryo assessment within assisted reproductive technology (ART). The new version builds on the scientific and clinical record of our Eeva® System.
The General Medicine franchise mainly includes brands to treat cardiometabolic diseases. Although no longer patent-protected, the excellent brand equity built over decades makes our flagship products cornerstones for the treatment of chronic cardiovascular or metabolic diseases. This applies, for example, to Glucophage® containing the active ingredient metformin, the drug of choice for first-line treatment of type 2 diabetes; to Concor® containing bisoprolol, the leading beta-blocker forchronic cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, coronaryartery disease and chronic heart failure, for which around 12 million patients are treated every year; and to Euthyrox® (levothyroxine), the leading treatment for hypothyroidism.
Demand for cardiometabolic therapies is continuously rising, particularly in growth markets. This is due to both increasing life expectancy and in part also to growing prosperity in these regions, along with the resulting changes in lifestyle and dietary habits. Beyond developing life cycle management products to capitalize on our strong brand equity, we entered into a long-term strategic partnership with Lupin Ltd. of Indiato broaden the General Medicine portfolio in growth markets to include affordable, high-quality medicines. The main products of the Endocrinology franchise are Saizen® (somatropin) and Kuvan® (sapropterin dihydrochloride).
In October 2015, we announced that we would return the rights for Kuvan® to BioMarin in order to fully focus on our core businesses while giving patients continued support from a partner dedicated to orphan diseases. We remain highly committed to patients in the field of endocrinology, and in particular to advancing the treatment of growth hormone-deficient patients with Saizen®. Also in October 2015, Frost & Sullivan recognized Merck’s growth hormone franchise with the European Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award.
Furthermore, for several years we have been developing award-winning novel injection devices that make injections more user-friendly and at the same time more reliable for patients than conventional or prefilled syringes. In addition, these products make it easier for Healthcare practitioners and patients to ensure adherence and thus to reach their treatment goals. Examples are the easypod™ electromechanical injection devices, the only growth hormone injection device of its kind, for the delivery of Saizen®, and RebiSmart™ for Rebif® (interferon beta-1a). Additionally, both easypod™ and RebiSmart™ are able to wirelessly transfer data such as injection times, dates and doses to the Web-based software systems easypod™ connect and MSdialog.
In our Consumer Health business, we manufacture and marketover-the-counter pharmaceuticals and food supplements, focusing on a number of well-known strategic brands. These include Neurobion®, Bion®, Seven Seas®, Nasivin®, Femibion®, and Dolo-Neurobion®, as well as Floratil®, Sangobion®, Vigantoletten®, Apaisyl®, and Kytta®. Ranking 11th in theglobalOTCmarket, we have a high market penetration in Europe, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Middle East and Africa. Our growth rates are particularly strong in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Mexico the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.
Global megatrends favor the future growth of the Merck Consumer Health business. People are becoming more health-conscious and concerned with their own physical well-being.Preventive Healthcare and as little invasive medication as possible are becoming increasingly important – in both established and growth markets, characterized by a growing middle class with specific needs.
We continue to pursue the “3 x 3 strategy”. The aim is to deliberately invest in about 15 to 20 key countries in order to be present in each with at least three leading brands and to achieve a respective local market share of at least 3%. This should be accomplished by organic growth, geographic expansion and eventually smaller, tactical acquisitions of brands which fit into the strategy and ideally into the existing product categories.
For example, in 2015 we began the launch of our Bion® brand in Brazil to add another potentially leading brand to the local portfolio. In addition, the Vigantol®, Anemidox® / Confer® and Hepabionta® brands were transferred from Biopharma to Consumer Health to leverage them through consumerization.
Our Biosimilars business is committed to providing access to high-quality biologics to more patients all over the globe. In addition, we are developing a biosimilars portfolio focused on oncology and inflammatory disorders through both in-house research and development expertise in biologics and partnerships with other biosimilar players. In 2015, we moved biosimilar candidates into clinical development. The first Phase IIIstudy for a biosimilar will be initiated in the first quarter of 2016.
Biosimilars is an attractive market in which Merck is well-positioned since we can build on existing strengths and capabilities across the biosimilars value chain. This includes the ability to leverage internal assets or source capabilities from suppliers to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, secure market access across key growth markets, leverage commercial manufacturing capabilities and flexibility, as well as adopt a tailored go-to-market approach.
We have also established a strategic alliances with Dr. Reddy’s in India to co-develop multiple cancer drugs and with Bionovis in Brazil to supply the Brazilian market with biological productsunder the Product Development Partnership (PDP) policy of the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
Our allergy business Allergopharma is one of the leading companies in the field of allergen immunotherapy (AIT). TheAllergopharma portfolio includes a diverse spectrum of approved allergen products that meet high quality standards.AIT (hyposensitization, desensitization, specific immunotherapy) is the only causal therapy for treating allergies to unavoidable allergens.
We manufacture products to diagnose and treat type 1 allergies such as hay fever or allergic asthma. Merck’s allergy business offers high-dose, hypoallergenic, standardized products for allergen immunotherapy of pollen and mite allergies.These allergoids have a special focus in Allergopharma’s product portfolio and constitute a cornerstone in its integrated health approach for patients suffering from these conditions.For effective treatment, reliable diagnosis is key. Allergopharma offers a broad range of diagnostics in the field of allergies with more than 100 single allergens, providing physicians with the specific tools needed to identify the substances causing an allergy. In addition, Allergopharma provides individual allergen extracts on a named patient basis, which are needed to treat less frequent allergies – personalized medicine has been a reality for Allergopharma for many years now. Products of Allergopharma are available in more than 20 markets worldwide.
The market for causal allergy therapies is a global growthmarket. On the one hand, the global growth expected by market researchers will be generated by an increasing number of people with allergies, and on the other hand it is based onthe rising use of allergen immunotherapy in many growth markets.
By expanding production and thus our capacities in Reinbek as of 2017, we want to increase our global presence and help to meet increasingly high manufacturing standards.
The purpose of our Life Science business sector is to solve the world’s toughest Life Science problems by collaborating with the global scientific community. We have a broad product and technology portfolio and offer innovative solutions for scientists and engineers in the Life Science industry.
Life Science comprises the research branches concerned with the structure and behavior of living organisms. Our products and services are used in the research, development and manufacture of biotechnological and pharmaceutical drug therapies, as well as in research and application laboratories. In addition, our products and services also reach adjacent markets such as the food and beverage industry.
For the Life Science business sector, the most important event of 2015 was the completion in autumn 2015 of the acquisition of the Sigma-Aldrich Corporation (Sigma-Aldrich). The takeover of this U.S. Life Science company was the largest in Merck’s corporate history.
In 2015, the Life Science business sector contributed 26% to Group sales and 22% to EBITDA pre exceptionals (excluding Corporate and Other). With the acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich and the first-time consolidation for a full year, these percentages are set to increase significantly in 2016, thus further raising the importance of the Life Science business sector.
On April 13, 2015, we had already announced Udit Batra’s appointment to lead the combined Life Science business of Merck Millipore and Sigma-Aldrich. This appointment took effect upon the successful completion of the acquisition in November 2015.
In the course of 2015, the aim was to secure numerous antitrust approvals needed for the acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich. An important milestone here was European Commission approval, which was granted subject to certain conditions in June. This was followed by antitrust approvals in Japan and from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Prior to that we had secured antitrust clearance from the United States, Taiwan, South Africa, Russia, Serbia, Israel, and Ukraine. In order to fulfill the EU commitments, Merck and Sigma-Aldrich had to agree to sell parts of Sigma-Aldrich’s solvents and inorganics business in Europe. This included the sale of Sigma-Aldrich’s manufacturing assets in Seelze, Germany, the divestment of solvents and inorganics sold by Sigma-Aldrich worldwide under the Fluka, Riedel-de-Haen and Hydranal brands, as well as a temporary license to the Sigma-Aldrich brand for the supply of solvents and inorganics in the European Economic Area. On October 20, 2015, we announced that an agreement had been reached to sell the relevant businesses in Europe to Honeywell in fulfilment of commitments made to the European Union in order to win antitrust approval of the acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich.
Approval from Brazil’s Council for Economic Defense in August marked the final outstanding clearance after Israel and South Korea had also granted their approvals. Following the receipt of all the necessary antitrust approvals for the acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich, we announced the transaction closing on November 18, 2015.
By acquiring Sigma-Aldrich, we have become one of the leaders in the global Life Science industry worth more than € 100 billion. With this new combination we will be able to serve Life Science customers around the world with a highly attractive set of established brands such as Millipore, Sigma-Aldrich, Milli-Q, SAFC and BioReliance. Moreover, we have a highly efficient supply chain through which we can support the delivery of more than 300,000 products. In the laboratory and academia business, we offer our customers an extensiveand customized range of products across laboratory chemicals, biologics and reagents. In pharma and biopharma production, Sigma-Aldrich complements our existing products and capabilities with additions along the entire value chain of drug production and validation.
While Sigma-Aldrich will largely be integrated into our Life Science business sector, we decided that the SAFC Hitechbusiness will be integrated into our Performance Materials business sector and will operate as part of the Integrated Circuit Materials business unit.SAFC Hitech and Performance Materials offer complementary technologies, making these two businesses a natural fit.
In 2015, our Life Science business sector comprised three business areas: Lab Solutions, Process Solutions and Bioscience.
On this basis, our Life Science business generates recurring sales and stable, attractive cash flows in an industry thatis characterized by stringent regulatory requirements. A highly diversified and loyal customer base additionally ensures a lowrisk profile. In the future, Life Science will benefit from an even broader portfolio, a highly efficient supply chain including a superb e-commerce platform, and a global reach.
Following the completion of the Sigma-Aldrich acquisition, we put in place Strategic Marketing & Innovation teams (SMIs) to promote and deliver innovation tailored to our Life Science customers’ needs. These take the place of the previous business areas (Lab Solutions, Process Solutions and Bioscience). Going forward, our Life Science business sector will thus beorganized around three customer segments: Research Solutions focuses on academia, Process Solutions supports biopharmaceutical production, and Applied Solutions serves clinical and diagnostic testing laboratories as well as the food and environmental industries. The SMI teams will be responsible for defining customer segment strategy, product portfolio and product value propositions. In the newly combined business, Life Science has commercial areas which are managed by region and customer segment to leverage regional and local expertise. There are two commercial areas – one dedicated to the lab customers between Research and Applied and one dedicated to the Process Solution customers (including the SAFC customer base). The commercial areas are responsible for marketing, sales as well as customer and dealer relationships.
In 2015, our Lab Solutions business covered demand for products for research as well as analytical and clinical laboratories in a wide variety of industries. The business area accounted for 36% of our Life Science sales in 2015. Laboratory water equipment, laboratory chemicals and consumables as well as test solutions make it possible to identify microbial contamination, for example in pharmaceutical products, food or drinking water. For inorganic chemistry, we supply ultrapure reagents, including salts, acids, caustic alkalis and buffering agents, and we also manufacture reference materials for instrumental analysis and products for inorganic trace analysis.
Adding to our industry-leading laboratory water equipment, in 2015 we started with the introduction of our AFS®water purification systems. They have been developed to provide clinical laboratories with an economical and reliable water purification solution for daily water volumes of up to 3,000 liters.
Later in the year we introduced a new class of spectrophotometers in Europe for analysis of waste water, drinking water, beverages and process water. Spectroquant® Prove is available in three models and offers the largest choice of water test kits and methods.
Bioscience accounted for 13% of sales in our Life Science business sector in 2015. The main product groups of this business area in 2015 included tools and consumables for filtration and sample preparation, reagents and kits for cell biology experiments, as well as small tools and consumables for cellanalysis. With these products, we support our customers in understanding complex biological systems and identifying new target molecules. Our applications help to make research processes faster and more efficient.
Our new Magna ChIRP™ RNA Interactome Kits allow researchers to more easily identify, recover and analyze regions of chromatin that interact with chromatin-associated RNAs such as long non-coding RNA (lncRNA). The kits simplify the ChIRP method.
A study on our synthetic Strat-M®membrane was conducted by researchers at Josai University in Japan and published in the January 25, 2015 issue of the “European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences”. This study showed that through the use of our Strat-M® membrane as a synthetic non-animal skinmodel, it is possible to predict the skin permeation of, for example, active pharmaceutical ingredients, cosmetic actives, personal care products and pesticides during studies as effectively as with real human or animal skin.
Our Process Solutions business area, which accounted for 43% of Life Science sales in 2015, offers a diverse range of products to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that enable customers to develop large- and small-molecule drugs safely, effectively and cost-efficiently. In addition, the business area’s portfolio comprises more than 400 chemicals for the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients as well as drug delivery compounds. The offering in biotech production comprises products supporting cell growth and gene expression, a wide range of filtration systems, as well as salts and sugars. The single-use solutions offered by the Process Solutions business provide increased flexibility to biopharma customers since they eliminate time- and cost-intensive cleaning procedures. Moreover, these single-use solutions are compatible with various products, thus reducing investment costs for our customers.
In 2015, we enhanced the application of our existing tangential flow filtration (TFF) technology that allows concentration of process streams without the recirculation required in traditional TFF.
A collaboration with the German company celares GmbH to provide PEGylation services to customers developing protein-based therapeutics and biosimilars was established. celares GmbH is a specialist for PEGylation, a special form ofdrug delivery for biopharmaceuticals. This collaboration enables us to expand our service offering to include conjugation, further helping our biopharmaceutical and biosimilar customers to optimize their protein therapeutics and to reduce their time to market.
In addition, we introduced enhancements to our industry-leading EMPROVE® portfolio of pharmaceutical raw materials in 2015. The expanded documentation and regulatory information facilitates drug product manufacturers’ risk assessment workflows and supplier qualification. The enhancements also help drug product manufacturers meet their own internal quality guidelines as well as those recently published by the European Commission.
Building on our strong filtration portfolio, we introduced Millipore Express® PHF (process protection, high-flux) hydrophilic filters for fast, efficient and economical buffer filtration.
A highlight of 2015 for Process Solutions was a strategic alliance with Turgut Ilaç, a leading biosimilars company based in Turkey through which the business area will provide its Provantage® End-to-End services for the development and manufacturing of biologics. Phase one of the agreement will focus on monoclonal antibody biosimilars for non-small cell lung carcinoma and rheumatoid arthritis, the first molecules of Turgut’s biosimilar pipeline that will be supported by us under this strategic relationship.
Our entire specialty chemicals business is consolidated in our Performance Materials business sector. The portfolio includeshigh-tech performance chemicals for applications in fields suchas consumer electronics, lighting, coatings, printing technology, paints, plastics, and cosmetics. Since January 1, 2015, Performance Materials has been organized into the following business units: Display Materials, Pigments & Functional Materials, Integrated Circuit Materials, and Advanced Technologies.
Performance Materials’ share of Group sales was 20% and its share of EBITDA pre exceptionals (excluding Corporate and Other) amounted to 28%. The EBITDA margin pre exceptionals was 44.3% of sales.
Our Liquid Crystals (LC) business, which is part of the Display Materials business unit, generated more than half of Performance Materials’ sales in 2015. We have long been the global market and technology leader in liquid crystal mixtures. This market is highly consolidated; it is characterized by barriers to market entry due to the technological complexity of liquid crystals and the high quality requirements of industrial customers and consumers. Large LC display manufacturers are among the customers of our Liquid Crystals business. It comprises the broadest product offering for our customers in industry, including, for example, liquid crystals optimized for PS-VA (televisions) and IPS (smartphones and tablets) technologies. In addition, we are continuously setting standards in new developments. An example of this is our UB-FFS technology, which is enabling a breakthrough in the energy efficiency of displays for smartphones and tablets, and for which we received the German Innovation Award in 2015.
The Display Materials business unit, which was newly formed on January 1, 2015, benefited in 2015 from the established Liquid Crystals business and the complementary former AZ Electronic Materials (AZ) business (Optronics) with display materials (for example photoresists), which was integrated into the business unit. The demand for established liquid crystal technologies remained robust, also benefiting from the demand for high-end televisions, for example ultra-HD TVs with ever larger display diagonals. In 2015, we focused on developing new application possibilities for liquid crystals, such as smart windows, so-called liquid crystal windows (LCWs). Liquid crystal windows allow continuously variable switching from light to dark in just seconds while permitting a broad color spectrum. In 2014, Merck acquired Peer+, a Dutch specialist for this technology; the company has meanwhile been fully integrated. In the first half of 2015, the first LCW panels were installed in Merck’s new modular Innovation Center in Darmstadt. Since then, the new technology has been presented at exhibitions and a broader market launch is planned for the coming years. The architectural opportunities offered by these smart materials were demonstrated in October 2015 at a congress in Chicago, which Merck organized together with Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
The Pigments & Functional Materials business unit develops and markets a comprehensive product portfolio of decorative effect pigments and functional materials. The effect pigments are primarily used in automotive and industrial coatings, plastics, printing applications, and cosmetics in order to give products a unique shine. Functional materials include laser marking, conductive additives, and applications for counterfeit protection, as well as high-quality cosmetic active ingredients, for example for use in skin care, sun protection and insect repellants.
The new Integrated Circuit Materials (ICM) business unit was established on January 1, 2015, from the former semiconductor business of AZ. ICM supplies products for integrated circuits. As an important partner to leading global electronics manufacturers, ICM achieves more than 60% of its sales in Asia, and generates more than three-quarters of its sales with products that are the leaders in their respective markets. The products offered by ICM are used, among other things, to manufacture integrated circuits and microelectronic systems, for antireflection coatings, and for the miniaturization of transistor structures. The portfolio of the former AZ thus optimally complements the range of materials offered by Performance Materials.
The Sigma-Aldrich SAFC Hitech business consisting of high-purity materials for silicon semiconductors, compound semiconductors and other high-tech applications is being fully integrated into the Integrated Circuit Materials business unit. It ideally complements our product offering as a leading global supplier to the electronics and semiconductor industries. In September we announced the acquisition of Ormet Circuits Inc. to further bolster the position of Integrated Circuit Materials asa manufacturer of semiconductor materials and to diversify the product portfolio.
The Advanced Technologies business unit invests particularly in future-oriented research and development in Performance Materials. A very good example of this is our materials for organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are used in new lighting techniques and display technologies. They enable, for example, foldable and rollable or transparent displays with excellent color brilliance and image sharpness. 2015 was the most successful year to date for our OLED materials business. The performance of the OLED materials business was very positive, not least thanks to the strong growth in demand from Asian countries. In 2015, it was one of our fastest growing businesses, with a constantly expanding customer base. Significant investments were made in order to set the course for further progress and success in this future-oriented business. In May 2015, we inaugurated the OLED Application Center in Pyeongtaek, Korea. Three weeks later, we laid the cornerstone for a newOLED materials production unit in Darmstadt. With a volume of more than € 30 million, the project is one of the largest single investments we have made at the Darmstadt site in recent years.
In June, we acquired the Israeli company Qlight Nanotech, a leading start-up for research in quantum materials which, among other things, can further improve the color properties of displays.