Celebrating a century and a half of innovation!

  Solvay 150th anniversary Click to enlarge

When Belgian chemist Ernest Solvay developed a process in 1863 for manufacturing sodium carbonate (soda ash) using salt brine, ammonia, and carbon dioxide acid, few would have expected his family-based company to still be around today. However, his legacy lives on.

Throughout 2013, thousands of employees and guests around the world celebrated our 150th anniversary with events held both at group level and locally. Here are just some of the events we had showing how we partied at 150!

The acrobat-based show Odyseo: Chemistry of Dreams in October was a highlight. Hosted in a specially commissioned dome on the Solvay Campus in Brussels, Belgium, the show’s launch was attended by 1,350 people, including Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, government ministers, and the president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso. A total of 18,000 people saw the show, including our employees and local charities that Solvay supports or has supported.

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In Lyon, France, a fun-filled two-day Solvay Lab educational event offered nearly 10,000 visitors an insight into Solvay and our history. The experience showcased a science lab, films, a demonstration of the link between chemistry and innovation – including a model of the Solar Impulse aircraft – and our products and the biomaterials from which many have been developed.

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In September, the Dombasle-sur-Meurthe plant in the Lorraine region of France had double the fun by celebrating both Solvay’s 150th birthday and its 140th anniversary. Everyone enjoyed a barbecue, a musical, and an exhibition. Group historian Nicolas Coupain also outlined the Solvay story.


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On November 24 in Tavaux, France, Nicolas Coupain shared Solvay’s history with 80 VIPs at the Saline Royale d'Arc-et-Senans.


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In Thailand in November, senior business and government figures attended a King’s Day reception hosted jointly by Solvay at the residence of Belgian ambassador Marc Michielsen (fifth from left). The event also celebrated the 145th anniversary of a treaty between Thailand and Belgium, and 130 years of diplomatic relations.


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In Varna, Bulgaria, the dance group Neshka Robeva and the Del Padre music group were a highlight of a concert attended by 3,000 people in November. In other parts of the country, there was a reception for more than 130 VIPs and a 4m-model of the Solar Impulse featured in the annual Belgian Week in Sofia.

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André Borschberg, pilot and chief executive of the Solar Impulse project, was an important guest at celebrations in Brazil, which involved about 4,000 people. Celebrations in Brazil focused on teamwork, innovation, passion, and of course Brazil’s national passion – soccer!


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The USA saw many varied events, including a splendid dinner at Philadelphia's The Franklin Institute, barbecues and lunches, a day at a leisure park, and plant tours for visitors. Nicolas Coupain, co-author of a book on a history of Solvay, also gave presentations at various sites.


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In Russia, the opening of the Ernest Solvay Road on Sertow’s Serpukhov site was the culmination of events between September 29 and October 2. Other activities included a team building seminar for Sertow and Moscow headquarters staff, and honors given to employees by the city of Serpukhov.


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A record number of more than 1,600 visitors poured through the gates of Solvay’s Spinetta Marengo site in Italy on September 15 for an open day that included tours and performances to celebrate the 150th anniversary. A look at a new perfluoro rubber production system was one of the highlights.


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In Hannover, Germany, the Belgian consul – who is also Solvay’s country manager Dr. Andreas Meier (second from left) – and Belgium’s ambassador Renier Nijskens (right) hosted a 150th anniversary celebration in December 2013. At a second event, local Solvay staff celebrated at a dinner and party, which went with a bang thanks to a fireworks display featuring Solvay’s new logo.


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Other events in Germany included an open-air party for nearly 200 people at Bad Wimpfen on July 5 and a gathering of 400 people organized by the Bernburg site in September. A week of fun in Freiburg had executives outlining their own history and their view of the integration of Rhodia and Solvay. At the small Epe/Ahaus site, the 50 employees had a garden party in site manager Dr. Manfred Inkmann’s home.


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Rheinberg, Germany, gathered 800 employees plus their partners, politicians (including members of the German parliament), and others for festivities, which included a presentation of Solvay’s history.


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During the New Year event at Rosignano, Italy, all employees celebrated the 150 years anniversary at the Teatro Solvay. There was a round table discussion on the future of the plant, videos showing the history of the group, and of course cake!

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In Lisbon, Portugal the team paid homage to Solvay’s passion to serve humanity and progress. During their celebration, guests had to bring donations for three charities that care for children – Centro Porta Amiga de Cascais - AMI, Junta de Freguesia de São Pedro de Alcântara and Associação Conversa Amiga. They also launched a multitude of balloons with everyone’s best wishes for 2014.

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At Oldbury and Warrinton in the UK, we had a team join a dragon race for a cause, welcomed students from St. Joseph’s Primary School, and had a lunch celebration for all employees – with cake of course!

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For China, on January 20, 2014, some 700 employees enjoyed an evening filled with performances, dancing, and dining. Even Jean-Pierre Clamadieu was in on the action!

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A big thank you to everyone who helped make Solvay what it is today. Here’s to 150 more years!