But Solvay’s involvement in the scientific world doesn’t limit itself to the Institutes. For example in 1927 when the FNRS, the Belgian public research institution, was founded, the Solvay family acted as its main sponsor, contributing to as much as one quarter of its total budget!
A few years before that, Ernest Solvay was also instrumental in the foundation of the International Association of Chemical Societies (IACS) in 1911 in Paris, which would later morph into IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry), the world’s authority on chemical nomenclature and terminology to this day.
Similarly to the Conferences, Solvay’s objective was to do everything possible to make science more international, so that scientists from different “nations” (following the term used in those days) could discuss together in spite of mounting nationalist sentiments throughout Europe. “That’s why it was decided the Conferences would meet in Belgium, a neutral country, and be chaired by a quadrilingual Dutch scientist, explains Nicolas Coupain, Corporate Heritage Manager. This perfectly corresponded to Ernest Solvay’s vision. He wanted to encourage the scientific elite to work together regardless of nationality, which was a unique way of thinking: so far science was mostly considered from a national perspective.”