The entrepreneur Hermann Neuhaus made his fortune with something everyone in Germany uses every day – the dark grey SULO bin used for waste separation. In terms of personality, Hermann Neuhaus was the embodiment of responsibility, commitment and unconditional drive, and his career presents certain parallels with the biographies of outstanding scientists: driven by a tireless creativity, he never gave up and always aimed to give his best – and achieve the best.
Neuhaus also applied his rigorous standards when it came to deciding about his legacy. Based on its achievements and global reputation, he saw the Max Planck Society as being ideally suited to achieve his objectives and to ensure they remain fulfilled in the long term. Nevertheless, he tested it meticulously. He started by supporting a single project at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry and followed it up with a second one at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry. He visited the Institutes, spoke with the scientists, had their approaches explained to him and stayed in touch about their progress. Based on the success of these supported projects, he finally opted for the Max Planck Society and established the foundation in 2007. The Society's outstanding scientists won him over with their plans and ambitions and above all with the future-proof nature of their research.
Hermann Neuhaus's legacy is professionally managed and invested by the Max Planck Foundation which has access to the advice of a voluntary committee of renowned investment managers. The proceeds enable the funding of scientific projects that cannot be covered by the Institute budgets. In this way the Foundation provides additional latitude for the Max Planck Society. The historical lecture theatre in Harnack House, the Max Planck Society's conference centre in Berlin, has been restored to the highest standards. Hermann Neuhaus would have enjoyed seeing how top scientists can meet and interact there – like in the 1930s when Albert Einstein, Otto Hahn, Max Planck and many international scientists held guest lectures there. Five million euros were allocated to this project alone.
Hermann Neuhaus was posthumously awarded the Harnack Medal, the highest honour bestowed by the Max Planck Society. His wife Uta Neuhaus maintains her husband's links with the Max Planck Society, keeps in contact with the scientists, takes an lively interest their activities and feels at home in the "Max Planck family".