The team based at IPOS carry out research in process and other areas of chemistry for the chemical industry. They have so far collaborated with more than 150 companies, many of them based in Yorkshire and Humberside, contributing to the growth and prosperity of both regional and national industry.

What was the problem?

There is an ever-growing demand for academic research to meet the needs of industry. Reflecting the rapid and sustained expansion of activity in this area, IPOS was set up in 2006 to offer analytical and chemical process development services to the chemical industry.

Benefits of this research

Chemistry research carried out by Innovative Physical Organic Solutions (IPOS) has led to improvements in chemical manufacturing and the development of new inhibitors for use as antibacterials.

What did we do?

Awarded £3.6 million of European Regional Development Funding in 2009, IPOS has expanded rapidly, furthering existing strands of research and initiating new themes, including catalyst development.

Small interfering RNA and antisense oligonucleotides have been demonstrated as powerful tools for chemotherapy. There is currently no efficient synthesis of oligonucleotides on an industrial scale. IPOS has provided an understanding of the synthetic parameters that can be used to optimise the large-scale synthesis needed, providing improved efficiency and cost benefits. This work has been supported by industry partners Avecia Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The rise of bacterial resistance to antibiotics has been highlighted in recent years by researchers and medical professionals. IPOS is now part of a team that has published more than 50 papers in this area, furthering the understanding of how bacteria are able to resist antibiotics.
Findings have indicated that the lactam ring is not inherently reactive, creating a shift towards novel designs of alternative enzyme inhibitors. Highlighting the possibility of developing new methods of inhibition, this work has furthered understanding in the field and delivered both health-related and economic benefits. Industry partners including AstraZeneca and GSK have helped to support this research.

What happened next?

Since the expansion in 2009, IPOS has moved to new purpose-built laboratories, including the Page Laboratory, an Agilent Centre of Excellence. The large majority of projects and enquiries are from within the Yorkshire and Humberside region, where regeneration is critically dependent on new, non-traditional, high technology companies, meaning IPOS’s expertise has been vital to local economic growth.

The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) has officially recognised the scale and significance of IPOS’s contributions to the industry. Professor John Atherton received an SCI Chemistry for Industry Award in 2013 in recognition of his ‘contribution to process chemistry’, and Professor Michael Page received the same honour in 2011 for work ‘which provides a potential major benefit to society.’