Press release

DSM celebrates 150 years of biotechnology innovation

Delft, NL, 05 Sep 2019 09:00 CEST

Royal DSM, a global science-based company in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living, today celebrates 150 years of fermentation and biotechnology expertise and innovation at its site in Delft, the Netherlands. Building on the strong foundation of its predecessors Royal Dutch Yeast and Spirit Factory and Royal Gist-brocades, today’s biotechnology competences and expertise rank DSM among the top three companies in the world in industrial biotechnology. 20% of DSM’s total sales are derived from biotechnology. DSM’s nutrition business, which nowadays represents 70% of DSM’s net sales, started in Delft with yeast and enzymes for use in food and beverages.

Biotechnology based solutions will be key to address some of the world’s biggest issues, including climate change, resource scarcity, circularity and enabling healthy nutrition for a fast-growing global population.  Since 1869, many innovations developed at the Delft site have found their way into society including: a production strain and process for the large-scale production of penicillin, a natural antifungal food preservative widely used to protect a variety of foods and beverages from spoilage; and enzymes, which among other things enable the many millions of people worldwide with a lactose intolerance to include nutritious dairy in their diets. Recent innovations from DSM’s facilities in Delft include Veramaris’ algae-derived Omega-3 oil, enabling more sustainable aquaculture and healthier fish for the consumer, and Avansya’s zero-calorie sweetener.

For DSM, biotechnology is an essential pillar for innovation and a driver for growth. To build on the rich heritage of biotechnology in Delft and accelerate biotech innovations between companies and knowledge institutes, DSM recently founded the Biotech Campus Delft, in close collaboration with Delft University of Technology, the municipality of Delft, province of South-Holland and the regional economic development agency InnovationQuarter. This ground-breaking campus in Europe hosts startups, tech- and service-providers, small and medium-sized enterprises and established companies in the field of biotechnology and creates an ecosystem that boosts the transition to a sustainable, bio-based and circular economy. The open innovation campus supports the whole innovation cycle, from research to piloting, and through scale-up to production and commercialization.

Feike Sijbesma, CEO/Chairman of DSM's Managing Board: “I’m proud of our biotechnology roots in Delft and the economic, environmental and societal value this heritage brings to DSM. The economic and environmental benefits of using micro-organisms, for example yeasts, bacteria and algae, to help solve some of the biggest challenges in the world are becoming more and more apparent. Moreover, the social entrepreneurship and drive to take care of people and the society, started by my predecessor Jacques van Marken in 1869, is still an intrinsic part of our company’s culture today, 150 years on.”

Eric Wiebes, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy: “For already 150 years, DSM and its predecessors have been an economic success in Delft and in the Netherlands. I believe that a key factor for that success is that DSM has always been in transition. This means that DSM embraces innovation and adapts to changing dynamics, both on the market and in society. Over the years there have been many examples of biotechnological innovations from DSM that benefitted the environment. The environmental and climate transition we are currently facing requires even more. This gives DSM the chance to set an example for many others.”

Exhibition Small Life, Big Impact – 150 years of Yeast

To mark the occasion, DSM and the world’s first museum of microbes, ARTIS-Micropia, are presenting a unique temporary experience titled ‘Small Life, Big Impact: microbes shape our world’. Visitors will see the crucial role microbes and biotechnology play in enabling life on earth, as well as in tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges around climate and energy, circularity and food security. Visitors will also experience the unique story of the history of DSM and its predecessors in Delft with patriarch and founding father Jacques van Marken. As scientist and businessman, he founded the Nederlandsche Gist- en Spiritusfabriek to produce baker’s yeast at this site in 1869. With his unique approach to social entrepreneurship, he was way ahead of his time. The pop-up experience can be visited in ‘Het Grote Kantoor’, a Dutch historic landmark at DSM in Delft. It is open to the public from 12 September to 15 December 2019, and entrance is free.

For more information

André van der Elsen

Senior Communications Manager
+31 45 578 2421