At our innovation event on 15 November, the participants got to know the creative power of Chemspeed in Füllinsdorf in the canton of Basel-Landschaft. Chemspeed was founded just 21 years ago, employs 150 people today and ships their products worldwide. 70 participants used the opportunity to tour the company and to indulge in the latest trends in automated chemical labs.
Ever Changing R&D Environment
One of the companies that uses Chemspeed robots is Clariant at their Innovation Center in Frankfurt. Lucius Kemp, Head of High Throughput Experimentation Technology Module at Clariant, explained how smart automation can enhance the productivity of R&D when combined with miniaturization, parallelisation and computational design as well as evaluation. A modular workstation concept seems especially suited for high flexibility and automation in an ever changing R&D environment.
Andy Cooper, professor at the University of Liverpool, presented his high-throughput work to find new water-splitting catalysts, which multiplied new findings and publications. Parallel, micro-analytical approaches also boost productivity, as the 1000-3000 faster detection of isotherms of adsorbents demonstrated. Coopers autonomous chemistry laboratory contains a self-driving humanoid lab robot, similar to a self-driving car. Whether this is the future or if we will see more shuttle-connected workstations like Chemspeed is installing was one part of the discussion.
Rolf Güller, CEO and founder of Chemspeed, explained his vision of “gamification in R&D” with passion: Here, the researcher can playfully add any ingredients for his or her new formulation – as in choosing a customer-designed pizza. The Chemspeed robots provide the infrastructure and weigh all components on a milligram basis. The audience of industry and the local universities were obviously taken in by that idea. Further, Chemspeed had the captivating idea to pre-fill chemical compounds in ultra-thin glasses und use molar ratios of 1, 2, 5 and 10 units – similar to coins. This way, researchers can easily add 1.1 mmol of any hazardous substance, break the glass by simple stirring and the reaction can start. This patented SMOLE © concept is compatible with manual and automated synthesis and shows the creative power at Chemspeed.
Chemistry as a Core Competence of the Region
Finally, Burkhard Schäfer, Board Member of SiLA, focused on data integration for the lab of the future and the importance of standards as SiLA and AnIML. SiLA is a non-profit consortium promoting data standards and thereby a more efficient connection of instruments and data exchange.
The tour through the Chemspeed facilities was most impressive, seeing how many small units and several large-scale units are assembled and tested – and prepared to be shipped to customers worldwide.
This innovation event is part of a series of chemistry events in the region of Basel attracting a large audience. The Syngenta Symposium on 9 October about “Artificial Intelligence in Chemical Research” organized by the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS) and Syngenta, Idorsia, Novartis, Lonza and Roche was just as well received as the “2nd Swiss Industrial Chemistry Symposium 2018” of the SCS. Definitely, chemistry is a core competence of the region and innovative companies are the basis for success – today and tomorrow.