There’s a reason some companies continue expanding for 350 years – yes, that’s 4,200 months – continuous investment in change and learning but, most importantly, hiring and supporting the top people.

It has been, therefore, interesting to see the support from Germany-based drugs company Merck KGaA’s chairman and CEO for Roel Bulthuis, senior vice-president and managing director at M Ventures’, nomination to the GCV Powerlist 100.

Stefan Oschmann, chairman of the executive board and CEO at Merck, said: “As a leading science and technology company, innovation is vital for Merck. With four sector dedicated funds in healthcare, life sciences, performance materials and new businesses, Roel and his team have created a unique investment platform that strengthens Merck’s access to innovation and, at the same time, generates a venture return.

“Roel and I share a great admiration for entrepreneurs and their ability to turn science, technology and groundbreaking ideas into a product vision that could improve patient’s lives, disrupt industries or transform the way we live. We want to play our part in changing the world by providing startups the exceptional support they need to make their vision a commercial success.”

Bulthuis set up what was then called MS Ventures in 2009 and in 2016 saw the evergreen strategic venture fund double to €300m ($320m) and broaden from a focus as one of the leading early-stage investors in the healthcare field to all areas of interest for the parent company.

Each of the business sectors in Merck have dedicated funds. These funds have a starting capital of €50m and a target size of €100m evergreen, which, along with an existing fund, would take the total under management to €450m. Part of M Ventures is the Bioaccelerator Fund in Israel and the €30m Entrepreneur Partnership Program to fund spinouts from the parent company.

Bulthuis said: “We have made the spinoff efforts a fundamental part of all four funds, with the ability to commit up to 20% of our capital to these ideas.”

Bulthuis added: “We had a strong year in 2017, with a significant number of new investments and follow-on investments.”

Bulthuis added it had been “a great start for our three new funds with key hires made” with Joey Mason and Owen Lozman joining M Ventures this year and Noga Yerushalmi in January 2017 as the head of the BioIncubator in Israel.

Bulthuis has celebrated more than a decade at Merck, as prior to establishing its venture fund he was responsible for negotiating a range of licensing deals for subsidiary Merck Serono. Previously, he was director in the biotech investment banking team at Fortis Bank. Before joining Fortis, Bulthuis worked at Devgen in Belgium as a business analyst.

He has an MSc in biopharmaceutical sciences from Leiden University, and an MBA in finance from Helsinki School of Economics.