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Industry & Innovation News


October 2018
ICIQ - Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia


ICIQ opens its high-throughput platform to industrial collaborations

The HTE platform is a very powerful tool to find the best conditions for a given chemical reaction, using parallelization, knowledge-based experimental design and forced serendipity as the driving forces to accelerate discovery.

The first industrial project at the HTE laboratory started in October 2018.

The platform HTE is even more powerful when used in combination with other capabilities and expertise available at ICIQ:
  • ICIQ’s know-how in catalysis
  • DoE
  • Expertise in process chemistry
  • Process optimization to multi-gram scale in batch or flow
  • Crystallization                  (Read more

Orchestra Scientific,
the first ICIQ spin-off


Orchestra Scientific SL aims at bringing well-tempered technologies to the market.

This company was funded in December 2017 to commercialize technologies developed at ICIQ within the research group of

Prof. José Ramón Galán-Mascaros in the fields of scientific instrumentation for material sciences and clean technologies.

The Company wishes to commercialize a Metal Organic Framework material (MOF) for use in separation applications.

The team of ICIQ researchers discovered that this new material is structured at the nanoscale in such a way that it forms channels that match in terms of both shape and electronic affinity with carbon dioxide, thus acting as a highly efficient filter for this contaminating gas.

They are currently developing membrane-based separation modules to be incorporated in industrial set-ups for the cleaning of exhaust gases, for instance in biogas upgrading for injection in distribution pipelines. Orchestra web page

Nickel Goldilocks

A joint collaboration between the John Montgomery’s Group at the University of Michigan and an ICIQ researcher has resulted in the development of a new class of Nickel (0) catalysts, which will expedite a broad range of organic reactions.
These new compounds provide rare examples of Nickel (0) complexes that tolerate air exposure while maintaining high catalytic activities for the construction of strategic bonds in medicinal chemistry. This feature avoids the need to use an inert atmosphere glovebox. See our catalysts.

(-)-ENGLERIN A analogues: Collaborative research to fight cancer

The molecule (-)-Englerin A was isolated in 2009 from the bark of the east African plant Phyllanthus engleri by scientists at the US National Cancer Institute, and has received a lot of attention because of its ability to kill kidney cancer cells selectively.

In 2010 the research group of Prof. Echavarren achieved the total synthesis of (-)-Englerin A starting from inexpensive geraniol and using as the key transformation a gold-catalyzed cycloaddition invented by his group.

The reported synthesis opened the way for the synthesis of new and useful derivatives through the intermediate obtained after the gold-catalyzed cycloaddition. (Read more)

VIRO-FLOW: Integrating synthesis + bioassay in flow

VIRO-FLOW is an  European Industrial Doctorate project (H2020-MSCA-ITN-EID) between ICIQ’s flow chemistry unit ERTFLOW and the German biotech company AiCuris.  The goal of the project is to generate a system that integrates the synthesis of libraries of compounds in flow with microfluidic in vitro bioassays.

In addition to the VIRO-FLOW project, ICIQ’s unit ERTFLOW is involved in several contract research projects transforming batch processes into flow, as well as the FLOW4HEALTH project with Esteve Group, funded with 1.2 M € by MINECO and EFRD.

Highlights on Photocatalysis

Photocatalysis is establishing itself as a powerful research line within ICIQ, having involved so far about 14 research groups and resulting in the publication of 73 research articles. This highlight features some synthetic tools and methods developed at ICIQ in the field of photocatalysis. ICIQ is committed to the development of sustainable light-mediated processes for a cleaner fine chemical industry and faster R&D processes. In that sense, we are convinced that photocatalysis coupled with high-throughput experimentation enables faster discovery of active ingredients for several industries (fragrances, flavours, pharma...).

1. Carbyne chemistry

The García Suero group has discovered a new class of hypervalent iodine reagents as carbyne sources. Under photocatalytic conditions, the reagents generate diazomethyl radicals, which are able to functionalize aromatic C-H bonds in chemical feedstocks and medically relevant agents. The process introduces diazo groups which can be further transformed to chiral centres through a huge plethora of methods already available to a wide class of compounds, thus creating molecular diversity in a straightforward manner. This chemistry may be unique to increase success of the transition of bioactive agents from the discovery state to clinical testing. Nature 2018, 554, 86–91 – Patent WO2018146200.

2. Creating sterocenters with light

The Melchiorre group  successfully combined the benefits of organocatalysis, an established tool in asymmetric synthesis,  and photocatalysis. Specifically, transiently generated chiral intermediates of organocatalytic processes (e.g. iminium ions) are used as light absorbers and substrates of photochemical processes, thereby affording alkylation products with enantiomeric excesses. This photochemical approach, which enables transformations otherwise impossible under thermal activation, is particularly effective for the creation of stereocenters at the beta carbon of enals.

Nature Communications 2018, 9(1), 3274 - Nature Chemistry 2017, 9(9), 868-873 - Nature 2016, 532(7598), 218-222.

3- Parallel photoreactors

The Lloret-Fillol group has developed some parallel photoreactor devices allowing for carrying out several photochemical transformations at the same time, which is ideal to screen reaction conditions towards process optimization or create molecular diversity. The reactors allows controlling the irradiation power through five different channels while maintaining the light sources at a constant temperature. Reaction media can also be heated/cooled through an independent circuit. ICIQ is searching for third party manufacturers and distributors for this device (Patent PCT/EP2018/064177).

4- Photocatalytic arylation/alkylation

The research group of Prof. Rubén Martín has developed a photocatalytic process mediated by readily available nickel catalysts and benzophenone dyes allowing for the alpha-arylation and alkylation of ethers from the respective bromide compound. This methodology enables to selectively introduce molecular diversity in a sp3 carbon atom in one sole step and is highly tolerant to the presence of functional groups onto the reaction substrate.

Applications in several fields can be envisioned, such as for the preparation of lignans (e.g. sesamine) or anti-diabetic drugs (gliflozin compounds).

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140 (38), 12200–12209 – Patent EP17382772.


Next events:

  • 28th of Nov – Prof. A Kleij will present ICIQ’s biobased polymers at the industry-oriented S3Chem seminar at ACCIÓ (Barcelona)
  • 6th and 8th November- Investment Readiness Series event organised by Biocat (Barcelona)
Recent events:
  • Nordic Life Science Days in Stockholm (10-12th September)
  • CPhI in Madrid  (9-11th October)

ICIQ's Industry & Innovation Team

Irene Puntí, Business Development
Dr. Frédéric Ratel, Intellectual Property
Copyright © 2019 ICIQ, All rights reserved.

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