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Social commitment

Engage people and combine strengths

Assisting young people through science and training as well as through social projects is at the heart of our social commitment. Jenoptik is primarily involved in the promotion of three areas that include science and education, art and culture, as well as a commitment to integration and internationality. We want to actively shape our own environment. In doing so, we are primarily focused on long-term partnerships and provide support both financially and in non-material ways.

Training and science

Participants of Jugend forscht (literal translation: “Youth researches”)

Inspire and be inspired

As a high-tech company we need highly trained, highly motivated and curious employees. This is why we support and promote young people in interdisciplinary work, international exchanges and social skills. Abilities like creativity, team skills and a sense of values are just as important as good technical training at work.

Important partners in cooperation projects:

  • Experimentarium IMAGINATA
  • the youth competition “Jugend forscht”
  • Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena [FSU - Friedrich-Schiller University]
  • SPIE – Start-up Challenge
  • Lothar Späth Award Foundation

Cooperation projects

Partnership with Jenaer Experimentarium IMAGINATA

Since 2021, we have been the main sponsor and partner of the Jenaer Science Center Imaginata. Imaginata is an experiment center for the senses, a place of learning and a training laboratory. In short, it’s a place for explorers of all ages! The premises are also used for events, as a concert hall and gallery. Imaginata is housed in the former substation in Jena, an industrial monument.

“Jugend forscht” – sponsorship by the Thuringia federal region competition

Jugend forscht
Our commitment as a long-term and reliable partner in the region is particularly evident in “Jugend forscht”, the Thuringia federal region competition, which is aimed at young people aged 15 to 21. Since 2012, Jenoptik has also been supporting the “Experimenting students” competition for 10 to 14-year-olds. Together with the Stiftung für Technologie, Innovation und Forschung Thüringen (Foundation for technology, innovation and research in Thuringia – STIFT), JENOPTIK AG was once again responsible for organizing the federal region competition as a sponsor company.

The main focus of both competitions is on the fields of science, technology and mathematics. For the competitions, Jenoptik awards special prizes every year for ideas in the specialist areas that are important for Jenoptik to spark interest in work for the company later on.

Cooperation with the Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena

Friedrich-Schiller University
By working with the FSU, we are strengthening important connections in the Jena network. Jenoptik supports the FSU financially and offers expert assistance by way of lectures and workshops. Particularly close links are maintained with the FSU Jena faculty of physics and astronomy (PAF). To increase the attractiveness of a physics courses for female students, the PAF organizes a workshop especially for female students, for example. Jenoptik also supports public Saturday lectures on physics and astronomy topics.

SPIE – Start-up Challenge

SPIE startup challenge

As a founding partner of the SPIE Startup Challenge, Jenoptik has supported this competition for photonics companies with prize many and expertise for more than ten years. Startups with ideas based on optical technologies qualify for the competition held annually during the SPIE Photonics West trade show in San Francisco.

“We see innovation as part of our DNA. By sponsoring the event, we keep up-to-date with new technologies and new applications that will shape our world in the future”, says Jay Kumler, President of Jenoptik North America.

As the main sponsor, Jenoptik supports the pitch competition held by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, with their expertise and prize money of 10,000, 5,000 and 2,500 US dollars for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

Lothar Späth Award Foundation

Lothar Späth

Jenoptik is sponsoring the Lothar-Späth Award Foundation, which issued and awarded the Lothar-Späth Award for the first time in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia in 2018. The award is aimed at cooperative innovation partnerships between scientific institutions and commercial companies in Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia. The competition aims to develop pioneering innovations for products, processes and services. The award aims to highlight the work, pioneering achievements and exceptional personality of Prof. Lothar Späth (Dr. h.c.) in business, politics and society.

Dr Stefan Traeger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of JENOPTIK AG, is a member of the jury.

Art and culture

Promoting light and optics in the arts

Since the company was founded, Jenoptik has been enriching the Jena site with art and culture. Light and optics are also at the heart of our cultural development. Jenoptik’s own conception and organization of visual arts projects form the core of art management. Jenoptik’s art collection, which has existed since 1994, comprises 400 works; about two thirds of them set the tone in our employees' offices.

Art exhibition at Jenoptik: In this changing art exhibition, Jenoptik brings people into contact with visual art. The exhibition is open to visitors regularly in the foyer of the Group headquarters where children and all visitors can enjoy art in our workshops.

Long-standing cultural commitment

Osterbenefizkonzert (Easter benefit concert)

Jenoptik supports the Osterbenefizkonzert for sick children

Under the umbrella of the Internationale Jungen Orchesterakademie (International Young Orchestra Academy), young talent from all over the world can come together for the Bayreuth Easter Festival to put on music events free of charge for children suffering from cancer and serious illnesses. Since 2009, this concert series has also been taking place in Jena.

Since then, Jenoptik has been one of the partners of this project, the proceeds of which also go to the Elterninitiative für krebskranke Kinder Jena e.V. (parent initiative for children with cancer in Jena) in Jena. This association is under the patronage of Jenoptik. The charity festival is a reflection of Jenoptik’s philosophy of social commitment. It promotes up-and-coming artistic talent and inspires enthusiasm about the idea of international understanding. It enriches Jena as a cultural destination and combines art enjoyment with social commitment.

Kulturarena Jena (Jena Culture Arena)

Kulturarena Jena (Jena Culture Arena)

Jenoptik has been one of the sponsors of the Kulturarena Jena for more than ten years, an open-air festival that invites guests to imaginative theater events, exciting cinema showings, diverse concerts and original children’s events at the Jenaer Theatervorplatz (Jena theater forecourt) every evening in the summer months of July and August.

For more information, visit the Kulturarena website.

Theaterhaus Jena (Jena theater)

Theaterhaus Jena (Jena theater)

For more than 125 years, the Theaterhaus Jena has been brilliantly putting on young and experimental, unconventional and spectacular shows. On the advice of former Jenoptik CEO Lothar Späth, Theaterhaus GmbH was founded in the mid-1990s and has since been supported by Jenoptik.

Jenoptik promotes the annual open-air theater show, which opens the Kulturarena, as well as the Jugendtheaterclub (youth theater club), which has produced many award-winning theater shows in recent years.

More information on the Theaterhaus Jena website.

Summer concert series of the Klosterkirche Thalbürgel (Thalbürgel monastery)

Klosterkirche Thalbürgel

Jenoptik offers its patronage to the summer concert series at the Klosterkirche Thalbürgel near Jena. In the unique atmosphere of this former Benedictine monastery, the Thalbürgel parish organizes a sophisticated music festival with religious and world-class compositions every year. The proceeds from concerts are partly channeled into youth social projects. Jenoptik also pays tribute to those people who volunteer to preserve this cultural gem and imbue it with life.

Further information can be found on the website of the Klosterkirche Thalbürgel.

Social responsibility

Donation campaign at the New Year’s reception

We provide support where our employees are involved, too

As a well-established player, we lend a hand where help is needed. We have been cooperating with social associations and institutions for a long time, supporting them either financially or with the hard work of our employees.

Many Jenoptik employees also invest part of their free time to volunteer for others. To promote this voluntary activity, Jenoptik launched a Group-wide program in 2019 as another pillar of social commitment. Volunteering is an important link in society, and we want to recognize and further promote the commitment of our employees at all locations worldwide.

As part of Corporate Volunteering program, Jenoptik employees can apply for financial support from the association they work for on a voluntary basis. A jury of representatives from all divisions evaluates the applications and decides on the financial contribution.

Corporate volunteering: Our volunteers

Three special projects

Corporate volunteering: Robert Martin

Robert Martin has been with Jenoptik since 2001 and gained experience within many different levels of the company. Since 2019, he has been working for the Light & Production division in the production of Opticline measuring systems and testing mechanical and optical assemblies. In addition to his work at Jenoptik, he volunteers at the Diabeteszentrum für Kinder und Jugendlichen Jena e.V. (Jena Diabetic Center for Children and Adolescents).

The association is devoted to psychosocial care for children and adolescents with type-1 diabetes and has been running a counseling center in Jena for many years. The aim is to empower those affected to deal with their illness, to get them ready for the many challenges of everyday life and to network them with each other. The financial support of the Corporate Volunteering Program was used for the "Fit in School" event. This day is used as a training day for pre-school or primary school children with type-1 diabetes to teach them about safety and routine while dealing with their illness. Children are taught in a fun way, the primary aim of which is to get them to trust more in their senses and capabilities, and to show them pragmatic plans of action.

Corporate volunteering: Brit Zeitner

Brit Zeitner has been working in the field of light modulators at Jenoptik since 2006. Her colleagues are responsible for the development, manufacture and sale of our modulators. In addition to her full-time work, she has also been chairman of the board of SALAMANCA leben e.V. since 2009. Brit Zeitner initiated and coordinated the parent initiative to set up an inclusive school in Weimar.

Since then, children with and without disabilities have been learning with each other and from each other. Lebenshilfewerk Weimar/Apolda creates the learning conditions for them to successfully take part in lessons together. The school was established several years ago and is an integral part of the Weimar education landscape. With the financial support of Jenoptik’s Corporate Volunteering program, coaching was financed for a team of educators at a school that had been teaching a child with a mental disability along with the rest of the pupils since the start of this school year.

Corporate volunteering: Joseph Chavez

Joseph Chavez joined Jenoptik in 2011. He worked in areas such as precision diamond turning, assembly and precision cell turning. In addition to his full-time job, Joseph Chavez is a so-called Guardian ad Litem a (GAL) volunteer serves as guardian and legal counsel assigned to a minor or incompetent person for the duration of a court case. As a GAL, he is responsible, among other things, for home and school visits, advocacy in court as well as leisure activities with the children.

Speak Up for Kids of Palm Beach County, Inc. supports the Palm Beach County program in Florida. The organization works for abused, abandoned or neglected children in Palm Beach County and ensures that the children get a lawyer appointed by the court. It advocates for the interests of the children by recruiting and training court-appointed volunteer children’s lawyers. Because this (voluntary) commitment can rewrite the children’s future. For example, the financial support provided new shoes and new beds for families in need.

Cooperation projects

Donation campaign at the New Year’s reception

Donation campaign at the New Year’s reception

The fundraising at the Jenoptik New Year's Eve ball has long been a tradition for Jenoptik. The event is the annual kick-off to the company's social engagement program. Jenoptik has been combining the New Year's Eve ball and fundraising since 1997. Thanks to the strong support of our guests, previous fundraisers have collected donations totaling over a quarter of a million euros. Fostering young people through science and education as well as through social projects lies at the core of Jenoptik’s social commitment.

The donation of 10,000 euros will benefit the KLEX center for children and young adults, an institution that is very committed to laying the groundwork for integration into everyday life. The aim of donations from Jenoptik is to contribute to financing events and training courses. Jenoptik CEO Stefan Traeger presented the symbolic donation check (photo: second from right) in June 2018 to project manager Conny Kaulfuss at KLEX (image: second from left).

The association in the Jena district of Lobeda offers plenty of leisure, learning and activity opportunities for children between 8 and 14 along with their parents. The KLEX team is also committed to integrating refugees into everyday life within the community. Intercultural skills must be developed, new activity formats must be created, and learning and play materials geared towards developing language skills must be acquired.

Elterninitiative für krebskranke Kinder Jena

Since 1996, Jenoptik has been the patron for the “Elterninitiative für krebskranke Kinder Jena e. V.” (Parents' Initiative for Children with Cancer in Jena). The association accompanies children with cancer, their parents and siblings on their difficult journey and provides them with support. Jenoptik supports the association with direct gifts and personal donations. Our Chief Financial Officers of the last years have been personally committed as patron for the preservation and long-term safeguarding of the association’s work, as is shown in this image (left) when former CFO Hans-Dieter presented a donation check to the association's managing director Katrin Mohrholz.

Support comes from a variety of sources: personal donations, fundraising with partners, organizing children’s afternoons and promoting the annual charity concert by the International Young Orchestra Academy for the benefit of the association.

Jenaer Integrationsbündnis (Jenaer Integration Alliance)

Jenoptik is a partner in the “Jenaer Integrationsbündnis” and is actively involved in their causes and goals. The Jenaer Integrationsbündnis is an association with various volunteers from the city of Jena who are committed to improving the living conditions of people with a migrant background in Jena. Particular attention is paid to opening up facilities and providing regular services for migrants in particular, enabling them to participate in civil society.

Zentrum für Familie und Alleinerziehende (Centre for Family and Single Parents)

Toddlers on toy cars
Jenoptik has been supporting the Jenaer Zentrum für Familie und Alleinerziehende e.V. since 2001 with money and in-kind donations, to continue to offer flexible childcare in Jena, so people can reconcile work with family life, or studies with returning to work. Among other things, donations are used to coordinate flexible care for children and to better equip the mini kindergarten.


Roads to Respect

Roads to Respect

Jenoptik supported the European road safety project “Roads to Respect” in Weimar, which was awarded 1st prize by the European Road Safety Council.

As part of the European road safety campaign “Roads to Respect”, 25 European students developed concepts for improving traffic safety in their hometown. A student at Weimar Bauhaus University, Daniel Wanzek, initiated the restructuring of a pedestrian crossing, which lies in the catchment area of two schools used by many children. Safety measures included reducing the speed limit to 30 km/hr. To discipline road users without their having to pay a fine, the Jenoptik Road Safety division provided a speed display panel (you are driving at ... km/hr) as a free loan. Jenoptik is thereby contributing to the children’s safety on their way to school.

Musical school project by the Udo-Lindenberg Foundation for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

Udo Lindenberg
Three schools from Jena and nearby Milda celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with a special trip into the past. Under the patronage of the Udo-Lindenberg Foundation, the students brought the classic Udo-Lindenberg “Hinterm Horizont geht’s weiter ...” to the stage as a musical. Jenoptik got involved with this project to support young people and open up new horizons for them. Ultimately, the history of Jenoptik is also closely linked to the fall of the Berlin wall. For over a year, the students prepared and helped to organize the musical – from dance, music, singing and acting, to stage construction and costume production, right through to media design. They were artistically guided by Noah Gabriel, saxophonist in the Lindenberg Panik Orchester (Lindenberg Panic Orchestra). The triumphant finale of the project was the performance at the German Nationaltheater (national theater) in Weimar. Many employees took the opportunity to enjoy this truly successful performance.

Promoting education during the coronavirus pandemic

School donations

Families and schools faced extreme challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. Jenoptik supported the improvement of home schooling with various donation campaigns. The donations made it possible to provide mobile terminals and Internet connections for socially disadvantaged families. Stefan Traeger: “Digital education is more important than ever to better manage home schooling, but not all families can afford the technology to do it. With our donation, we want to help to provide as many children as possible with the same conditions for learning at home.”

Jenoptik also participated in the Jenaer Initiative für saubere Luft an Schulen (Jena initiative for clean air in schools) by sponsoring an air purifier with nanofilter technology for a Jena school.