September 6, 2019


DSM celebrates 150 years of biotechnology innovation




On September 5, Royal DSM 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, the company said.


20% of DSM's total sales are derived from biotechnology. DSM's nutrition business, which currently represents 70% of its net sales, started in Delft with yeast and enzymes for use in food and beverages.

According to DSM, 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 company's Delft site have found their way into society including a production strain and process for the large-scale production of penicillin; a natural anti-fungal 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, which helps enable more sustainable aquaculture and healthier fish for the consumer.


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 its 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 Innovation Quarter. This ground-breaking campus in Europe hosts startups, tech- and service-providers, small and medium-sized enterprises and establishes companies in the field of biotechnology. It also creates an ecosystem that boosts the transition to a sustainable, bio-based and circular economy.


The open innovation campus also supports the whole innovation cycle, from research to piloting, and through scale-up to production and commercialisation.


"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 yeast, bacteria and algae, to help solve some of the biggest challenges in the world are becoming more and more apparent," said Feike Sijbesma, CEO and chairman of DSM's managing board.


"Moreover, the social entrepreneurship and drive to take care of people and the society, started by my predecessor Jacques van Marken (DSM's founder) in 1869, is still an intrinsic part of our company's culture today, 150 years on."


"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," said Eric Wiebes, the Netherlands' Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.


"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 benefited 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."