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The Bayer Innovation Experience
For thousands of years, the crop science story remained relatively steady. Farmers sowed seeds, then hoped for rain. With the right conditions, plants grew and were harvested—but often by insects and other animals. And so it went, season after season. Then, in the not-too-distant-past, everything changed. Technologies started to advance at breakneck speeds as farmers harnessed the power of human ingenuity to overcome the impossible, and agriculture flourished. This is where our work begins.
10,000 years in 1 incredible hour
Offering a rare and intimate glimpse into the cutting edge of crop science innovation through the ages, Bayer’s guided tour through the Crop Science Research Center in Chesterfield, MO welcomes more than 10,000 visitors on a guided tour every year. So when Bayer acquired Monsanto in 2018, the facility had an even greater story to tell. With ongoing expertise and enthusiasm for all things crop science, we were asked by our global client team to lead a transdisciplinary team of architects, 3D modelers, and fabricators to reimagine the tour from the ground up—all to celebrate the newly combined vision, potential, and capabilities behind the world’s leading agriculture company.
By organizing our content based on the Why, What, Where, How, and Safety efforts behind advancing agriculture, we visitors can see how every aspect of crop science is connected. This flexible, lateral narrative allows guides and guests to approach their experience from any angle, and in any sequence, for a holistic view into agricultural innovation.
No one goes on a tour just to look at stuff; we want to feel something.
Crop science is an immense and interconnected saga of relentless innovation, meaning it’s a lot of ground to cover. So to make this unfolding story manageable and intuitive, we adopted a non-linear narrative approach that transformed a simple facility tour into an immersive Bayer Innovation Experience.
Every visitor deserves a unique experience
Knowing that our human attention span generally lasts for only eight seconds, we pulled out all the stops to excite hearts, minds, and imaginations. The result? In about an hour, visitors can explore a working research facility for a glimpse into the rich and comprehensive world of crop science, as told through augmented reality, interactive applications, projection mapping displays, museum-style exhibits, video content, strategic wayfinding, experiential design, and custom-built environments. And that’s just scratching the surface…
“Being able to share this experience makes me proud to work at Bayer”
The Bayer Innovation Experience begins well before the tour kicks off.
As you enter the building, you literally stand at the forefront of crop science innovation. To help that sink in, we designed a welcome center with a suite of site-specific experiences that offer a dynamic, self-guided overview of Bayer’s ongoing legacy. For example, our custom-built Advancing Agriculture Digital App presents three distinct digital environments through a giant 72-inch touchscreen, where visitors can explore Bayer facilities around the world, an interactive Q&A feature, and a user-led journey of crop science from the soil into outer space.
Some of agriculture’s biggest steps forward are—of course—microscopic
When you think about it, the culmination of plant domestication, custom breeding, and biotechnology is a really, really big deal. But because these innovations play out on the tiniest of stages, it can be challenging to grasp exactly how they work. To bring this unseen world to life, we transformed what was a nondescript hallway into a dynamic projection mapping experience. After installing 16 rows of perfectly spaced replica pea plants across a massive 30x11 foot wall in honor of Gregor Mendel’s pioneering genetics research, we created a visual narrative that immerses visitors into the beautiful minutiae of seed improvement through the ages.
“Since only 2% of our population grows food, this is an eye-opening experience to the complexities of agricultural innovation from seed production to harvest”
You can watch something change over time, but it’s more fun to see solutions actually working.
For an immediate glimpse into agricultural innovations at work, we created a portable, standalone greenhouse showing a side-by-side comparison of live plants and their associated insect pests. Here, visitors can see firsthand—and in real-time—how custom-bred plant varieties are better able to protect themselves in a farmer’s field.
Every farm is unique, and that’s a beautiful thing. But it can also be a challenge to develop solutions for farmers dealing with different localized insects, weeds, or diseases that threaten their crops. To bring this abstract idea to life in tangible ways, we developed a museum-style exhibition featuring historic artifacts, images, and custom videos that trace the evolution of crop protection to where Bayer’s taking it tomorrow.
The [Digital] Agrarian Revolution
Agriculture went from adopting new technologies to creating them. And now, digital tools are a key component to helping farms conserve natural resources, protect the environment, and build a more sustainable future. To show how all of this progress is connected, we built a custom augmented reality experience where visitors can explore farms in Illinois, France, China, and other locations around the world. Each location features its own distinct animations, video content, and data visualizations to offer a deeper understanding of how digital tools are helping farmers harness new opportunities. .
Unlike virtual reality, which isolates each individual user, augmented reality encourages a communal experience for all visitors, who can explore their interests at their own pace as the tour guide talks through each environment.
A 300-ft wall can make a great blank canvas
Bayer carries the torch in a long-standing tradition of agricultural advancement, especially when developing solutions for farmers that are safe and effective for everyone. To give context to the incredible work they’re pursuing today, we created a comprehensive History of Agriculture Timeline where visitors can walk side-by-side with the many key developments of farming’s ongoing evolution. In addition to providing a peek into our future, the timeline also overlooks Bayer’s world-class research greenhouses, where visitors can see scientists working on the next big breakthrough in agriculture.
Bringing the Bayer Innovation Experience to… anywhere
We all share a stake in agriculture. That’s why we built experiences that could be leveraged well beyond the tour. Custom apps can live on any screen. Our augmented reality (AR) experience requires only a tablet and a QR code. And all of the creative assets behind every experience can be transformed into content for social media, website experiences, or even physical exhibits by any Bayer employee in the world.
“Every time I go on the tour, I learn something new. This is so important not only to gain knowledge, but to also practice how I as an employee can successfully advocate for what we do as a company.”
Farming will always have new success stories to tell
As agriculture continues to advance, The Bayer Innovation Experience is the gateway to seeing how we can improve farming to pursue better lives for everyone. By leveraging digital storytelling technologies, we developed a visitor experience that’s easy to update, refresh, and expand as new opportunities emerge. This flexibility allows us to continually find compelling new ways to tell unfolding stories of how science and human ingenuity continually shape what’s possible for us all.