Our History


The European Foundation for Quality Management, EFQM, was founded in October 1989 when the CEO/Presidents of 67 European companies subscribed to our Policy Document and declared their commitment to achieving EFQM mission and vision.

The Foundation set up a team of experts, from industry and academia, to develop the EFQM Excellence Model, a holistic framework that can be applied to any organisation, regardless of size or sector. This was first used to support the assessment of organisations in the European Quality Award in 1992.

Over the last 30 years, we have seen many changes. The Model has adapted and evolved over time to reflect changes in the global market place.

Hundreds of organisations, from both the public and private sector, have participated in the EFQM Excellence Awards, including Robert Bosch, BMW, VW, Xerox, Ricoh, Grundfos, Philips, EDF, as well as small less known organisations.

One thing that has not changed is our objective: to increase the competitiveness and effectiveness of all organisations in a sustainable way. We remain an independent, not-for-profit foundation; committed to supporting our customers in their journey of becoming the best organisation they can be and, in turn, improving their communities and society.

Our focus is international, and we have offices in Brussels, London and Dubai and partners from Columbia to China. Our methods and models are translated into more than 30 languages and welcome the opportunity to support all organisations across more than 40 countries.

Our founders

On 15th September 1988, 14 European Business Leaders met with Jacques Delors and signed a “Letter of Intent” to form a European Foundation dedicated to increasing the competitiveness of European businesses.

The 14 CEOs were (pictured from left to right):
  • Umberto Agnelli – Fiat Auto SpA
  • Carlo De Benedetti – Ing. C. Ollivetti & C., SpA
  • Carl Horst Hahn – Volkswagen AG
  • A. Scharp – AB Electrolux
  • Jan F.A. de Soet – Koninklijke Luchvaart Maatschappij N.V. (KLM)
  • Cornelis Johannes van der Klugt – N.V. Philips’ Gloeilampenfabrieken
  • Serge Dassault – Avions Marcel Dassault-Breguet Aviation
  • Heini Lippuner – Ciba-Geigy AG
  • Raymond H. Lévy – Régie Nationale des Usines Renault
  • Francis Lorentz – Bull SA
  • Konrad Eckert – Robert Bosch GmbH (attending on behalf of Marcus Bierich)
  • Iain David Thomas Vallance – British Telecommunications plc
  • Fritz Fahrni – Gebr. Sulzer AG
  • R. Morf – Nestlé SA (attending on behalf of Helmut Oswald Maucher)