Haldor Topsøe: “Answers will come from India”

Denmark’s legendary engineer and humanist Haldor Topsøe has died, 99 years old. He was deeply engaged in India and in cultural exchanges between the two countries.

“Concerning India and Denmark, let me first say that when it comes to cultural exchanges, India has far more to give us Danes than we have to give them.” When this statement was said in a speech at the opening of the ‘India Today Copenhagen Tomorrow’ event in Copenhagen, it had extraordinary weight because the it came from an importan, if not legendary, 99-year-old figure in the business world: Dr. Haldor Topsøe from Denmark.

In May 2013, he passed away, four days before his 100 anniversary. Haldor Topsøe was highly respected both for his basic research in catalysis and for his strong humanistic view of the world. At the millennium, he was selected by other engineers as the greatest Danish engineer of the century.

In 1940, he founded the now multinational engineering and research company Haldor Topsøe with a vision of building a company that would help creating a better world. Today, over 70 years later, his 6.000 staff of engineers and scientists are still targeting this goal. The business is founded on research in catalysis and artificial fertilisers.

Currently the company is engaged in developing a new technology for fuel cells that can help optimising energy production and replace polluting energy sources. This may become of great importance in the global climate and energy concerns.

Answers on sustainability
Dr. Haldor Topsøe was a strong supporter of creating cultural exchanges between many countries in the world, and he was very fond of the idea about establishing a Danish Cultural Institute in India.

“I do believe that we in Denmark have a little bit to offer, but I also do believe that we have to ask for others to come with a cultural input to us,” he said. “But remember that all this business about culture and so on, it can not survive unless we have a sustainable world – and that is also what it is about in these days: Do we have a sustainable world? I don’t know the answer to this question, but many of the answers will come from India.”

Building new industries based on basic research was one of Haldor Topsøe’s primary interests, and India also has a lot to say in this field. While mentioning the Indian scientist Homi Bhabha who got the Nobel Prize and who was a visitor in Topsøe’s home, he explained: “There are many other scientists in India who are doing work which is of very great importance.”

Fastest growing subsidiary
Today, Topsoe India is one of the fastest growing engineering subsidiary of Topsoe with very experienced and skilled professionals within project management, process, instrument and controls, mechanical design and engineering, and technical services within Topsoe technologies and catalysts.

“Most people are aware that we have the two big Asian powers, China and India. I read an article in the Economist where they wrote about the Chinese Tiger and the Indian Elephant and said that ‘the elephant will also arrive.’ That is what we see today. We in this world very much depend on India,” said Dr. Haldor Topsøe in his speech at the opening of the ‘India Today Copenhagen Tomorrow’.




The photo on top of this page is from the opening of ‘India Today Copenhagen Tomorrow’ in August 2012, where Dr. Haldor Topsøe is seen in conversation with Mr Naik, chairman of Larsen & Toubroe


Zee TV: ‘Green Denmark’
“One of the interesting personalities who Supriya Bhardwaj interviewed during her two week visit in Denmark was the 99-year-old Dr. Haldor Topsøe.” The programme aired on the Indian tv-channel Zee Business on 27 October 2012.

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