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Visp, Switzerland was the founding location of Lonza Group. Lonza was founded in 1897 in the canton of Valais, taking its name and power from the nearby river Lonza. Today, this site location includes around 2,600 employees, a 900,000 m2 facility with 70 labs, R&D and scale-up facilities, and state-of-the-art multipurpose plants for over 850 m3 of production capacity.
The initial purpose of Lonza’s founding site was to transform hydroelectric power into electrochemical and metallurgical products. Lonza produced calcium carbide (CaC2, “carbide”) in an electric arc furnace from a mixture of lime and coke at approximately 2000°C. The reaction of carbide with water gives acetylene which was used in carbide lamps.
Around the turn of the century, Lonza expanded to France and Germany. In Switzerland, Lonza took over several electro-chemical enterprises, which were sold after a short time. The introduction of electric light led to the first “carbide crisis” but nevertheless, Lonza found novel applications for its carbide and eventually built a new facility in Visp in 1907.
In the middle of the 20th century, Lonza began to invest more in research and development, as well as in-house basic chemical manufacturing to compliment the specialized chemicals products it already manufactured. Niacin is an example of this expansion that took place in the 1950s. The development of Niacin began in the late 1940s and continued to today with the first manufacturing trials leading to several hundred tons of niacin being produced each year. Today, the continuous operating plant for Niacin in Visp delivers 40 tons of Niacin a day. Lonza meets more than half of the world demand for Niacin.
Today, the Visp facility is home to chemical manufacturing capabilities for Peptides, Small Molecule APIs, Highly Potent APIs, Cytotoxics, Antibody Drug Conjugates, and Microbial Biopharmaceuticals. We offer expertise in the chemical, pharmaceutical, agrochemical and food industries by providing customers with products such as exclusive active substances, organic chemicals and intermediates manufactured in both biotechnological and chemical processes.