DSM celebrates 150 years in Delft

A rich history of social entrepreneurship & pioneering biotechnology

A biotechnology story 150 years in the making

Today, Royal DSM is known globally for its work in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living. Part of our story starts in Delft, a small city in the Netherlands. It was here that our rich history in biotechnology began, and with it, our company’s strong focus on social entrepreneurship. 150 years later and our industrial biotechnology experts in Delft still use nature’s toolbox to tackle the biggest challenges facing the modern world including climate change and resource scarcity.

You are cordially invited to join us!

To celebrate DSM’s 150 years in Delft, we are inviting local communities, employees, students and business relations to learn about our rich history and the work we are doing to enable a more sustainable, bio-based and circular society.


As part of the celebrations we are hosting a free pop-up experience center where visitors can explore the crucial role microbes play in life on earth, our work over the last 150 years and what we are doing to tackle the biggest global challenges we face today.

A company with social entrepreneurship in its DNA

Our communities face unprecedented challenges – from climate change to rising poverty and growing resource scarcity. In the search for new solutions, the private sector must take responsibility and offer its experience and knowledge. Businesses must look beyond profit and the quarterly earnings cycle and use their competences to have a positive impact on the world. While the vision is ambitious, companies can start by engaging their employees in their objectives, and then working closely with local communities, partners and customers.

At DSM, we believe being successful and having a positive social impact go hand in hand, as did Jacques van Marken, the Netherlands' first social entrepreneur and founder of the Royal Dutch Yeast and Spirit Factory in Delft in 1869 (now part of DSM).

One of the patriarchs of Dutch industry, van Marken was a progressive and socially committed entrepreneur who believed in the power of collaboration. He was also the first Dutch company owner to provide welfare services to his workers, including accident and pension provision and an employee profit-sharing scheme. Ever since then, social entrepreneurship has been embedded in our company DNA - from DSM’s formative years as a state-owned mining company in the South of Limburg, to the modern era.

In the 21st century, we continue to support society by delivering solutions that create brighter lives for all. And our commitment to our communities can still be seen right here in the Netherlands. Channeling the spirit of one of our founding fathers, DSM’s Delft operations, which include our biotech facilities, serve as an economic pillar in the region – supporting startups, creating jobs and driving local R&D and innovation. 150 years after we began, we remain a purpose-led company that looks after its employees and communities and embraces its responsibility for creating a better world. 

Leading the world in industrial biotech from Delft

Biotechnology is increasingly a central pillar of innovation and change. With growing pressure on the earth’s resources, effectively using nature’s toolbox can help us meet the health and nutritional needs of the growing global population and to tackle climate change. As it evolves, the modern, biotechnology era continues to offer new, sophisticated answers to key sustainability challenges; however, the science behind these game-changing solutions has a long and rich heritage, especially at DSM.

Building on 150 years of fermentation and biotechnology experience, DSM is today considered one of the top three global innovators in the field of industrial biotechnology, with biotech products making up 20% of our total sales.

Our biotech story begins in Delft. Working from this centrally located city in the Netherlands, our industrial biotechnology experts have brought the world countless innovations. From enzymes for producing safe, healthy food to biofuels that support the global energy transition, solutions for effective wastewater treatment, and much more.

Today, DSM’s biotech competences are anchored at the state-of-the-art Biotech Campus in Delft, the number one hub of its kind anywhere in the world. As founding father of the successful Brightlands Chemelot campus in the south of the Netherlands, we have applied the learnings from this public private partnership to building the Biotech Campus Delft. The campus is a joint initiative between DSM Delft and the Delft University of Technology. Here, we work closely with our partners, drawing on the global skills and knowledge concentrated in this world-leading center of expertise. Together, we are fostering open innovation in the emerging biotech field, while delivering the resources and competences stakeholders, governments and startups need to innovate and grow. From this small dot on the map, we are taking a big step toward a sustainable, bio-based and circular future!

Visit the pop-up experience center and explore the power of microbes

Marking DSM’s 150 years in Delft, DSM and the world’s first museum of microbes, ARTIS-Micropia, offer visitors a unique experience. Located at ‘Het Grote Kantoor’ in Delft, ‘Small Life, Big Impact: microbes shape our world’ is an innovative pop-up exhibition that showcases the crucial role played by microbes and biotechnology in enabling life on earth. 

The center also tracks DSM’s work in biotechnology and fermentation over the past 150 years, including our current innovations to tackle global challenges such as climate change and food security. Visitors can also learn about the unique story of our predecessors in Delft with patriarch and founding father Jacques van Marken.

From 12 September to 15 December 2019 the Experience Center will be open to the public every Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 10:30 and 16:30.  Entry is free. Visit the event's website for further details and to plan your visit.

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