Building a bio-based future – together

Sustainability is DSM’s core value: everything we do should be sustainable. POET shares this focus on sustainability.

Vital magazine kindly offered me this space to introduce DSM to its readership. I would like to use this opportunity to explain how DSM became the company it is today, our perspective on the bio-based economy and the bioethanol industry and why our partnership with POET to develop and commercialize cellulosic ethanol is very, very important to us.

DSM has transformed itself several times throughout its history. We started out as a coal mining company back in 1902. We transformed ourselves (via fertilizers in the 1930s) to a base chemicals and petrochemicals company in the 1970s. From there we entered the field of fine chemicals.

Over the last decade we have further transformed DSM into a global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company. We are the world’s largest nutritional (food/feed) ingredients company and one of the world’s biggest suppliers to the pharmaceutical industry. Biotechnology plays a key role in these fields. Our involvement in biotechnology dates from our acquisition of a Dutch biotech firm, Gist-brocades, in 1998. By doing so, we added 140 years of fermentation and biotechnology experience to our portfolio. In addition we are a leading player in new high performing materials for things like electronics but also for use inside the human body, like hip and knee joints.

DSM has reinvented itself a couple of times. Our revenue now is just below 13 billion USD and we employ around 23,000 people worldwide, nearly 3,000 of whom are in the United States. About 10% of our employees work in R&D. We are proud of the company we have created, including its values and its deeply rooted culture.

Sustainability is key for DSM, as are innovation and a global presence. We create value for all stakeholders via products that nourish, protect and perform, for people today and generations to come. One great expression of our company values is our collaboration with the World Food Program of the United Nations where together we have improved the nutritional quality of nearly 10 million people’s diet in the developing world.

Building on our knowledge and experience in using biotechnology for the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, food and feed ingredients, we have started a dedicated unit that focuses on renewable materials, chemical building blocks and biofuels. Here we apply our background in biotechnology and chemistry to help solve key global challenges such as energy scarcity and global warming. These are great assets to have for a company that believes in a renewable future and wants to contribute to making it a reality.

We believe in a renewable future, because fossil resources will run out in one or two centuries and we have to look for renewable alternatives. Instead of fossil resources we can use for example biomass, the most abundant feedstock on the planet. If we manage it carefully, biomass can sustainably supply the world with food, energy, chemicals and materials. In fact, we have no choice: Our economy simply has to become renewable and bio-based.

In a bio-based economy we will be living off the land again, just like we did for thousands of years before the fossil age. It will take a new industrial revolution, a green industrial revolution in fact, to unlock the full potential the bio-based economy can provide us. POET and DSM have proven themselves to be pioneers of this green industrial revolution. It’s great that we have now pooled our resources to speed up the breakthroughs that the world is waiting for. We are shaping a new future, a switch from the current fossil age to the bio-age.

Together, POET and DSM are working to show that the production of ethanol and other high-value products from agricultural residue is commercially viable. We hope to make advanced biofuels a reality and create an additional economic boost to rural areas.

Sustainability is DSM’s core value: everything we do should be sustainable. We recognize that biomass is a very precious resource and that science has a key role to play in ensuring it is used in the most efficient and sustainable ways possible. That is why we focus on further developing biotechnological routes to make fuels, chemicals and materials from biomass, and we’re also looking for ways to upgrade proteins from certain plant residues into edible proteins.

POET shares this focus on sustainability. I was delighted to find that POET has partnered with organizations like The Earth Partners.

There are two other elements that make POET and DSM a perfect match. The pioneering spirit personified by POET’s founder, Jeff Broin, is the same spirit that has enabled DSM to renew itself over and over again. I would like to compliment Jeff on the company he has built, not only in terms of revenue and products but also in terms of philosophy, knowledge, people and values. Additionally, we share the drive to prove biomass can be sustainably used as a source of food, fuels and chemicals/materials.

For all these reasons, we at DSM feel that in partnership with POET, we will be successful in shaping a new episode in history: the era of the bio-based economy. We welcome many partners to join us in this journey.



Vital is a news & media resource published by POET, presenting a variety of stories with the thought leadership one expects from the largest, most forward-thinking ethanol producer.