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Partnering with Experts

Firmenich shares its sustainability knowledge with universities and like-minded organizations to help solve global challenges such as climate change, inequality in access to health and education, and inclusive economic growth.


Firmenich is driven by science. Collaborating with academic institutions is critical to delivering the highest level of scientific excellence for positive change. Traditionally, we focus on natural sciences, but we also recognize the increasing importance of social sciences for our business. And, of course, we understand the importance of engaging directly with future sustainability leaders, to share our passion, ensure their commitment to a sustainable future, learn from them, and listen to their vision of a sustainable business and society.

For the past three years we have collaborated with the St. Gallen Institute of Management in Switzerland and the “Sustainability as a Strategic Opportunity” class led by Barbara Kux, a Firmenich board member. Through this course, students gain professional experience and work closely with leading global companies to find innovative solutions to key sustainability challenges. In FY17, we worked on a project with five students for three months. The students visited our Naturals Center of Excellence in Grasse, France, and conducted extended interviews with a wide range of Firmenich experts. Their research focused on the risks and opportunities around natural trends in the Home Care and Body Care market.

Firmenich is collaborating with Professor Djordjija Petkoski from the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, U.S. In FY17, Firmenich taught two classes in business ethics. In addition to our involvement in the class, Professor Petkoski also wrote a case study on Firmenich’s commitment to sanitation and our work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Toilet Board Coalition. This year, we partnered with Wharton and the World Bank as Jury Members of the Partners in Action competition aimed at identifying the best young professionals’ initiatives to positively impact the SDGs.

Firmenich is also regularly invited to present at Sciences Po Paris, in the Philanthropy and Social Investing course conducted by Judith Symonds. In FY17, Firmenich’s class focused on improving the understanding of public-private partnerships and sharing systemic changes needed to address current and future sustainability challenges. We also led the writing of a case study – with Science Po’s research faculty – on our inclusive business model and the integration of visually impaired people in our sensory panels.

In keeping with our efforts to encourage innovation and promote sustainable change, we continue to support leading academic institutions to help solve global sustainability issues.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.

Firmenich created a Professorship Fund at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a permanent part of the University’s endowment since 1979. This professorship, given in honor of Dr. Roger Firmenich and Dr. Georges Firmenich, reflects our commitment to educating and inspiring the next generation of chemists. Over the years, the Firmenich Professorship Fund has expanded to include a senior professorship and a senior faculty member. As part of this new addition, Professors Jeremiah A. Johnson and Jeffrey Van Humbek were selected for three-year professorships, both of which commenced January 1st, 2015.

Stanford University, U.S.

Firmenich’s endowment at Stanford, established in 2015, helps support faculty members who are starting their careers in the field of sensory neurosciences or the field of environment and sustainability, and encourage their academic work and research. Xiaoke Chen, an Assistant Professor in the Biology department at Stanford, was the first recipient of the Firmenich Next Generation Fund. With this funding, Chen aims to further his research on how sensory information and physiological state integrate to drive decisions and behaviors.

EPFL, Switzerland

Firmenich’s grant at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne aims to encourage breakthrough science and support the next generation of scientists by enabling the school to recruit an assistant tenure track professor in neurosciences.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

In addition to these endowments, Firmenich has additionally provided funding to facilitate the exchange of ideas and resources between the two institutions as well as to support a Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) sustainability program offering courses in French and English via well-respected local university partners in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal, Tanzania and Ivory Coast. This program will be led by EPFL, in collaboration with Stanford.


The Livelihoods Fund

The Livelihoods Fund is an independent entity valued at 40 million euros. Investors include 10 European companies: Danone, Schneider Electric, Crédit Agricole, Michelin, Hermès, SAP, CDC Climat, La Poste, Firmenich, and Voyageurs du Monde. All investors including Firmenich are involved in fund governance and collaborate on all investments and management decisions.

The Livelihoods Fund helps poor rural communities in developing countries restore their natural ecosystems to improve food security, increase revenues and improve livelihoods. Since its inception in 2011, Livelihoods has planted more than 130 million trees, improving means of support for more than one million people.

Livelihoods finances large-scale projects in reforestation, sustainable farming and clean energy production, which are carried out for and by communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It also gives investors access to biodiversity-friendly carbon credits with high social impact.

The Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming

One of the greatest challenges triggered by climate change is protecting fragile ecosystems and value chains such as mint, vanilla and patchouli. We began addressing this through our responsible sourcing programs launched more than 10 years ago in Haiti, Amazonia, Uganda, Madagascar and Indonesia.

To increase the impact of our work, we joined forces with like-minded, visionary companies in the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming (L3F). L3F helps companies sustainably source natural products from family farmers while improving the productivity, incomes and living conditions of 200,000 smallholder farmers and their communities. Together, we are building innovative support systems to further empower communities.

Firmenich invests in Livelihoods Venture’s two funds, the Livelihoods Carbon Fund and Livelihoods Fund For Family Farming participating in projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We announced our second investment at the Paris COP21 Global Landscapes Forum to reinforce our commitment to sustainability. In 2016, Livelihoods Carbon Fund was named “Best Corporate Offsetting Program” by Environmental Finance in the sixth annual ranking of the voluntary carbon markets, recognizing the benefits they provide to local communities, the scale of their projects, and their ability to unite diverse partners.


The WBCSD is a CEO-led organization of approximately 200 members from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors. These forward-thinking companies encourage the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment, and launched Action2020, a sustainability roadmap for businesses to make a positive influence.

Last year, Firmenich was elected to co-chair the organization’s Sustainable Lifestyles Cluster. This area fosters innovative solutions to safeguard our planet by working with companies on innovation, systems, products, behaviors and infrastructure to enable aspirational, environmentally and socially responsible lifestyles. In FY16, the Sustainable Lifestyles program focused on:
• Revealing insights about the most important impacts and activities
• Innovating and collaborating new products, services and business models
• Inspiring, enabling and motivating individuals to engage with the more sustainable lifestyles

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