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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.

The Firmenich Academic Sustainability Hub


Firmenich has worked with Professor Djordjija Petkoski at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania since 2013. Through this unique collaboration, Professor Petkoski wrote a case study on our seven-year partnership for responsible sourcing of vanilla in Uganda.

He participated in the seven-year partnership anniversary celebration in Denmark in September 2014, which was attended by local and regional customers and Ugandan and Swiss government representatives. He also conducted a live dialogue session with Patrick Firmenich, during which our Vice-Chairman of the Board shared his commitment to positive social and economic impacts on smallholder farming communities.

In FY15, Firmenich presented our sustainability work to students at Wharton. We participated in a project between the school and the World Bank to engage young leaders in rethinking global governance and business involvement in eradicating poverty.

In FY16, Firmenich continued working with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and participated in the Wharton Ideas for Action Competition, a platform for exploring ideas on sustainable development. We presented our sustainability work to Wharton students during the 2016 winter term, using two sustainability case studies we co-authored in 2015.


Firmenich was one of four companies invited to the class, “Exploring Sustainability as a Strategic Opportunity”, held by the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Students analyzed Firmenich projects, visited our headquarters and worked with our sustainability team to develop case studies. Patrick Firmenich, Vice Chairman of our Board, was personally involved throughout the project.


Since 2013, Firmenich has taught classes on sustainability to Master’s students at Sciences Po, the world-renowned school preparing students for careers in government and international business. In FY15, we began sharing our sustainability work with Master’s students at Webster University in Geneva. We value these opportunities to meet students, present our sustainability journey, solicit feedback and challenge ourselves to meet the aspirations of a new generation.


In 1979, Firmenich endowed a chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in honor of Dr. Roger Firmenich and Dr. Georges Firmenich, on the occasion of their retirement from the company.

This professorship has provided vital faculty support in the Department of Chemistry and reflects our long-term commitment to educating future generations of chemists. The Firmenich Professorship is a permanent part of MIT’s endowment.

The Firmenich Professorship Fund has grown significantly over the years and now provides a senior professorship and a senior faculty member. Professors Jeremiah A. Johnson and Jeffrey Van Humbeck were selected for three-year Firmenich Professorships, effective January 1st, 2015.


In 2015, Firmenich provided two new significant academic endowments: The “Firmenich Next Generation Faculty Fund” at Stanford University in California, U.S. and the “Next Generation Firmenich Chair in Neuroscience” at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland (EPFL).

The endowment at Stanford aims at supporting early-career faculty members working either in the field of sensory neurosciences or the field of environment and sustainability. The purpose of the award is to honor, encourage, and support the work of the faculty members early in their academic careers, assisting them in pursuing their research, clinical work, and/or teaching. The endowment at EPFL will enable the school to recruit an assistant tenure track professor in neuroscience to strengthen EPFL’s well-established neuroscience ecosystem. The potential research areas for the new professor will be in neuroscientific domains – sensory neuroscience, neurochemistry, neuroengineering or fundamental neuroscience.

In June 2016, Xiaoke Chen, an Assistant Professor in the Biology department, was the first recipient of the Firmenich Next Generation Fund at Stanford University, U.S. His long-term research goal focused on how sensory information and physiological state integrate to drive decisions and behaviors. Chen’s first major paper from Stanford was just published in Nature (2016), and a second is currently under review at Nature Neuroscience

In addition to the two new 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.

Partnering with Like-minded Organizations


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. In FY15, Firmenich and all other investor companies in the fund received their first carbon credits.


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.

In FY16, 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

Firmenich teams were involved in workshops in India, Brazil and the U.S. that focused on how innovative flavor and fragrance solutions can enable sustainable lifestyles. Firmenich also joined a working group with other leading companies and academic institutions to drive groundbreaking changes in dwellings’ environmental footprint.
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