We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of SpiroChem: a decade that passed at lightning speed! Interpreted into human years, we are no longer in the early childhood, but not quite a grown-up either. We are curious, risk-takers, free and creative scientists, and innovation is our favorite game.
We are 10 years old, but in cumulated chemistry years, we are well over 100. We know a lot already. Beyond this brash statement, there is a true system that we have set up and optimized to become an innovation powerhouse, learning from our past, and defining new concepts for the future. It is a matter of survival in a competitive, global industry: never take anything for granted and work hard to be the best at what you do.
Back when we started, Erick Carreira and Thomas Fessard looked like this and your favorite social media site was Facebook. Times have changed and so have we — for the better.
Year 2011 in Zürich, SpiroChem was established as a spin-off from one of the most respected research institutes in the world: ETH. Everything is easier when “you stand on the shoulders of giants”. This was a springboard that provided us with the values, integrity, and business-mindedness that shaped SpiroChem’s spectacular growth over 120 months. Initially, SpiroChem was operating as “a catalog company” providing innovative building blocks for drug discovery. That was just the opening act! Ten years later, we offer a full range of services and solutions, expanding our product offering (catalog, libraries) with elite services for discovery chemistry, with medicinal chemistry as our core pillar. As a small company, we have proudly served over 250 clients in more than 30 countries around the globe… but this is only the beginning...
With roots in a World Leading Research Center such as ETH-Zürich, the passion for solving problems was present at SpiroChem from Day 1 and cracking challenging syntheses has been our daily routine ever since. Our team is composed of top-notch researchers, highly educated (high ratio PhD:MSc) and coming from very diverse fields of synthetic chemistry. This allows us to be extremely reactive and tackle problems in a very diverse range of topics. But if our attitude to solving problems is inspired by academia, the solutions we find are extremely pragmatic. We are not an academic research group competing with others for publication, we do not need to demonstrate the advantage of a methodology against another. All methods and techniques can be useful in specific cases, and we master them all. We are agnostic and agile towards the methodology applied to find a solution, so that the project (our internal R&D or our client’s) progresses smoothly and rapidly.
But although solving punctual problems is fun, solving recurrent problems in medicinal chemistry is even more rewarding. SpiroChem is investing in the future of chemistry, and the chemistry of the future! With our unique positioning on the discovery chemistry segment, we have already demonstrated how our “outside-the-box” thinking has helped many medicinal chemists accelerate their projects.
In the beginning, we saw an opportunity in bringing exotic building blocks to the medicinal chemistry teams in big pharma to spice up their tool box. But over the years, with increasing pressure on R&D budgets in large organization and a trend to shift more and more R&D to low-cost operations. It then came to us as an epiphany: what the discovery chemistry sector was increasingly missing was the ability to enable novel concepts and ideas rapidly and efficiently.
All we heard at conferences was “Thou shall escape flatland”! and all the industry was ready to do so, after a decade or more of Suzuki couplings … but HOW? Luckily, academia came to the rescue, and the days of C-H activation, photoredox couplings and late-stage transformations provided the methods to build those complex 3D molecules! SpiroChem grew up at the same time. We learnt fast, developed our own techniques, and can now offer best-in-class services, proudly telling everyone: “make the molecule you should, not only the ones you could”.
We are chemists with expertise from very diverse fields of chemistry, from natural product synthesis to methodology, and from chemical biology to catalysis, synergized into the SpiroTeam. And we all have one thing in common: a passion for chemistry.
We love what we do, and we do what we love, which has proved to be our formula for success. In many cases, solutions to a specific problem already exist, but nobody has yet connected the dots. We do.
Christophe Salome, Senior Team Leader R&D Coordinator:
At the time I joined SpiroChem, I was looking for a job that gives space for out-of-the-box thinking, fosters creativity and values teamwork. I found all that, and after many years, we still have it. Happy birthday SpiroChem
We know a lot already, but we also know where to find solutions, we are collaborating with talented academics and senior scientists from around the world. We are a bridge between two worlds (academia and industry) separated by the cultural and innovation gap.
Rob Young, Scientific Advisor at SpiroChem:
For a proponent of “Low Flat, Low Fat” medicinal chemistry, SpiroChem’s exciting developments injected breaths of fresh Swiss air into the dreary landscape of flatland. Happy 10th Birthday; it is great to be part of the team.
Having been exposed to so many questions and challenges over the last ten years has allowed us to stay agile and reactive whenever we are facing a new problem. This allows us to be faster than the pack. We anticipate problems so that they do not materialize in the first place, and when they eventually turn up (hey, this is research after all), we solve them quickly and get back on our track, smoothly. We became the partner of choice of life science companies who are looking for efficiency and speed: they do not come to us only when everything else has failed (we used to be the “A-team” of chemistry), but to avoid failure.
As we mark a decade at the forefront of chemistry innovation, our CEO, Thomas Fessard, summarizes the first decade of SpiroChem and his vision for the next one:
Starting a new business is never a straight road. There are turns and bumps, but the important thing is to stay focused on the overall directions. Every turn, every bump is an opportunity to learn and improve. We started our journey as a catalog company offering high-value building blocks to pharma companies (we still do), went on to be the rescue team on a number of project and finally found that the best value we bring to the Life Science industry is by applying our skills to solve the problems of biotech companies, at every stage of the discovery/development pipeline. But there is still a lot of potential for growth. Stay tuned for our announcements in the coming months, with expansion in novel fields of chemistry, exciting new research results and a couple of new business lines to complement our portfolio of solutions! And obviously, we will never compromise on quality of service and the importance of sharing knowledge.
Happy birthday to everyone at SpiroChem and all who have contributed to our 10-year journey. And, thank you in advance to those colleagues, clients and partners who will help us shape the next 10 years.
Join us in the celebration of 10 special moments from the last 10 years that made us what we are today— chemistry leaders.