This article is about our partner SOLID-CHEM GmbH, its beginnings and why it has received the Innovation Medal, or in German “Stiftersiegel,” for Innovation by Research awarded by the German Donor’s Association (Stifterverband) for its intensive and dedicated activities in research.
The Beginning in 2010
SOLID-CHEM has its origin as a spin-off from University Duisburg-Essen, founded in 2010 at the Bochum University Campus by the two enthusiastic scientists Professor Dr. R. Boese and Dr. C. Schauerte.
“About three decades ago,” Boese recalls, “crystal engineering came up as part of solid-state chemistry and gained importance in organic and pharmaceutical Industry.” This was obvious with an increasing number of patent applications and litigations on polymorphism of APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) and the request for experts in the field. Our research interests originated in crystallization techniques in crystallography but gradually shifted to co-crystals, salts, amorphous phases, and the characterization in the wide field of analytic techniques, - spectroscopic, diffraction, thermochemical, particle size determinations, etc.
Competences and early Challenges
About ten years ago, they had an extensive network to Industry. With the desire for more independence and space, we recognized that all this would fit for a new business, so we looked for suited laboratories and basic lab equipment. Focused on material properties like solubility, bioavailability, melting temperature, shelf-life stability, hygroscopicity, filtering properties, compressibility, tableting ability, and so on, we were in the perfect position for recruiting our team from the previous research group at University. It appeared that we had to face many new challenges, such as organizing the internal structure and always having economic needs in vision. Carsten Schauerte was fortunate to spot suited laboratories right in time at a new-built technology center next to the Bochum Ruhr-University campus. “This was an ideal environment for us, with contacts, support for equipment and scientific environment, with the vicinity for discussions and collaboration, with numerous Universities and Institutes at a radius of less than 100 km, and the possibilities to host BSC and MSc students. But, it looks much easier than it was - and still is. We had to adapt to industry rules, strict deadlines, quick decisions and priorities, unexpected expenses, safety and employment law, plus the understanding and language of other disciplines, pharmacy, formulation specialists, technical, physical and theoretical chemists, and last but not least with patent lawyers."
Continuous Focus on Innovation
“Besides all, we continuously invest in research, and we host BSC and MSc students to establish a dynamic exchange with Universities,” Carsten says with pride. “But innovation does not only deal with scientific issues. Real success only comes from collaboration across different disciplines. This is possible only if all the common languages are spoken- of organic, bio, theoretical, and technical chemists, plus pharmacists, and, last but not least, of patent lawyers. Today, solid-state forms of crystalline polymorphs, co-crystals, salts, or amorphous states are our daily business. We can identify, select, or even produce different solid-state forms of APIs even when they influence or mutually counteract each other”.
 The German Donor’s association (Stifterverband) is a powerful organization of 3’000 multinational companies, smaller enterprises and private persons with an annual funding volume of 150 mio EUR dedicated to science and education.