On May, 25th 2018 our colleague Bertrand Pavageau won the 2017 Félix Trombe Prize for its atypical background and its work in torrefied biomass. As the Technical Director of Functional Surfaces Projects for 12 years, Bertrand is in charge of key value projects for Solvay.  



2018-6_BPavageau_Laureat_Prix Félix Trombe3


The Félix Trombe Prize is one of the highest prizes awarded by the Société Chimique de France (French Chemical Society). It is aimed at everyone who has achieved a remarkable development for chemistry through a technological innovation materialized by an industrial realization. It is also rewarding an exceptional professional career. The Félix Trombe Prize attaches importance to sustainable development and energy transition projects which demonstrate a rupture with previous technologies.  


Bertrand, can you detail your professional experience?  

“In secondary school, I was a pretty undisciplined student (I even didn’t get my secondary school certificate). I had an atypical background in order to find my way. First, as I am passionate about the automotive world, I obtained a BEP in automotive mechanics. Thanks to an internship in a garage, I realized that what I prefer the most is research and unknown problems solving rather than just repair a vehicle. As I was determined to pursue my studies, I (re)discovered a secondary school subject that became the fundamental piece of my learning motivation: chemistry. Thus, I continued in a Laboratory Technology Baccalaureate what enabled me to enter a Chemical University Institute of Technology (IUT) in Poitiers, France. Unfortunately, for financial reasons, I didn't get the chance to pursue my studies

despite my endless wish to always learn more. In 1995, I joined the Rhône-Poulenc as a chemical technician in a chemical and physical analysis department in Aubervilliers, France. From 2002 to 2004, I followed an internal managerial training at Rhodia that enabled me to become Research Engineer and then take projects management responsibilities. Since 2009, I have coordinated different projects related to sustainable development. Since 2017, I am Project Technical Leader on functional surfaces”.  


What does the Félix Prize represent for you?  

“I am proud to be rewarded by my peers and to receive this price that I share with all my colleagues. This award is a real recognition that confirms Solvay’s ability to include sustainable development in both financial profitability and in our projects’ social responsibility. This price is also a positive message regarding the cultural diversity in our R&I team which is a real asset to complete successfully our projects.”  


What has been your more memorable experience during your career?  

“I retain 4 key moments in my career:

  • 1995: this was the beginning of my professional life at Rhône-Poulenc at Aubervilliers, France where I discovered researcher’s profession. This is my motivation until now!

  • 2002: I followed an internal managerial training that wouldn’t have been possible without the understanding and trust from my managers and Human Resources Department.

  • 2005: I was among the very first executives to contribute to start the Laboratory of Future (Bordeaux, France) activity. It was a great opportunity to develop creativity around new technologies such as microfluidics.

  • 2009: it was the first time I had responsibilities on a project for a BU (Solvay Energy Services), torrefied biomass. It allowed me to discover several new facets of our research profession, which goes far beyond the aspects purely technical.

These different experiences of management and leading research projects as well as the close proximity to the academic world (co-supervision of theses and post-docs) allowed me to register 25 patents as a co-inventor. I am also co-author of 41 scientific publications.  


To conclude I will say that if I look at the past 23 years, there are 4 fundamental values that allowed me to reach where I am today (and the story is indeed not over!): curiosity, active listening, intercultural interactions and the desire to undertake."