Die Stiftung

The Foundation

The Carl Zeiss Foundation is one of the oldest and biggest private science funding institutions in Germany. The special feature of the Carl Zeiss Foundation is the combination of different foundation goals that must be fulfilled within and outside the foundation companies.

According to the statute, foundation goals are
  • the economic safety and continuation of the two foundation companies, taking into account the special social responsibility imposed on them
  • the promotion of general economic and charitable interests and provisions by the foundation companies
  • the funding of research and teaching, especially in the natural and engineering sciences, directly by the foundation
The Carl Zeiss Foundation is sole shareholder of Carl Zeiss AG and SCHOTT AG. It is not permitted to sell the shares of its two companies, which is specified in the foundation statute. Until 2004, the Carl Zeiss Foundation was one of the major corporate trust foundations in Germany. The foundation companies ZEISS and SCHOTT were a direct part of the foundation and thus legally dependent. In the course of an extensive foundation reform, the two foundation companies were demerged from the foundation in 2004 and transformed into legally independent joint-stock companies. At the same time, the foundation statute was fundamentally modernised without changing the principles and objectives of its founder and the spirit of the foundation.

The foundation is managed by the Ministers of Science of the federal states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Thuringia. They form the Foundation Administration and appoint the members of the Foundation shareholder council who administer the ownership rights of the foundation for the companies.
The name ‘Carl Zeiss Foundation’ was chosen by Ernst Abbe, who wanted to honour the merits of the man
who laid the ground for the foundation companies and
earned lasting credit for the connection between science and technology.
Foundation income
The Foundation finances its funding activities through dividends paid by the two Foundation companies. The dividend amount is dependent on the current equity ratio: the Foundation statutes provide for various payout ratios in specific ranges depending on the Group equity ratio. The decision about the actual amount of the distribution is made by the Foundation Board of Trustees under consideration of the two objectives of sustainable economic security for the foundation companies and effective promotion of the sciences.