Innovation is embedded in Solvay’s DNA
The search for innovative solutions forms an integral part of Solvay’s DNA. It is rooted in the Group’s history that began in 1863 with a major technological breakthrough: the synthesis of soda ash (sodium carbonate), a process designed and developed by the company’s founder, Ernest Solvay.
Ernest Solvay’s passion for science inspired him to support research in different ways, notably via the Solvay Conferences. Ever since 1911, these conferences have brought together the world’s most distinguished physicists and chemists, invited to discuss a current scientific issue. It was in 1927, at the 5th Solvay International conference on physics devoted to photons, that the new theory of quantum physics first began to gain widespread acceptance. Of the 29 scientists attending the conference – including Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Niels Bohr – 17 were Nobel Prize laureates! And the adventure of scientific discovery continues today: in 2016, the Solvay Conferenceson chemistry will focus on catalysis.
Making the impossible possible
In the 1930s, Solvay supported the physicist Auguste Piccard in his ascents into the stratosphere (who made a new world record in 1932 with an altitude of 16,000m) as well as his son, the oceanographer Jacques Piccard, who broke, in 1960, the world record for the deepest undersea dive (10,916m).
It was this same spirit that persuaded Solvay to become, in 2003, the first sponsor of Bertrand Piccard, Auguste’s grandson, and of his colleague André Borschberg, in their attempt to circumnavigate the globe in an aircraft exclusively driven by solar power: Solar Impulse.
A passion for science
Today more than ever, scientific research and innovation lie at the very heart of the Solvay group’s corporate strategy. Our 2,350 research scientists working in the Group’s research facilities around the world focus their passion and their energies on developing sustainable solutions capable of addressing a range of societal challenges. They frequently work hand-in-hand with university research scientists notably in four joint laboratories.
Solvay upholds the commitment of its founder to science and innovation through a host of initiatives. The Group encourages and supports scientific research by becoming actively involved in, for example, professorial chairs and a business incubator for start-up companies. Similarly, the prizes sponsored by Solvay are designed to celebrate the world’s foremost researchers and to highlight the excellent quality of their work.