With its proposed $66 billion acquisition of seed maker Monsanto as a backdrop, Bayer is expanding its sponsorship portfolio in the U.S. market.

The German life sciences giant has signed a multiyear partnership with the Big Ten Conference to promote STEM education and its healthcare and agricultural science businesses.

The sponsorship does not currently include an official designation.

While Bayer AG is an active sponsor in Germany—with a focus on properties located near its global headquarters in Leverkusen (Bayer 04 Leverkusen soccer team, BayArena, etc.)—the company’s U.S. division has kept a fairly low presence on the sponsorship scene over the past few years.

The Big Ten approached Bayer as part of its sales strategy to prospect companies based in its marketing footprint. Bayer’s U.S. subsidiary is located in New Jersey, part of the conference’s eastern expansion.

The initial meeting revealed an interest in promoting STEM education and the company’s involvement in the healthcare and agricultural industries, prompting the Big Ten to take a deeper dive into students and alumni of its member schools.

The strategy paid off: The research showed that Big Ten schools produce nearly 20 percent of graduates with a Ph.D. in science and that six out of the top ten agriculture producing states are located within the Big Ten footprint.

“We combined the STEM piece and the agriculture piece, and Bayer saw a nice fit,” said Scott Bailey, general manager of Learfield Sports’ Big Ten Sports Properties, the Big Ten’s multimedia rights holder.

The sponsorship affords branding at Big Ten Championship events starting with the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship. The partnership also includes digital inventory as well as a scholarship, award or other soon-to-be-determined platform centered on STEM education.

Uses New York Red Bulls For Local Service Initiatives
Bayer in 2015 announced a multiyear sponsorship with the New York Red Bulls, a partnership that is largely centered on community involvement.

Bayer’s U.S. headquarters is located in Whippany, N.J., roughly 20 miles from Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

Over the past two years Bayer has sponsored Red Bulls’ community outreach efforts in commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The events have focused on cleaning parks throughout New York and New Jersey, a platform that plays up Bayer’s agricultural and sustainability message.

Bayer may sponsor a military appreciation night in 2017, although it has not been confirmed, said Amy Scheer, New York Red Bulls’ chief commercial officer.

The partnership involves designation as the Red Bulls’ official life science partner. The designation includes the pain relief, allergy relief, vitamins and crop protection categories.