World-leading CRO providing the pharmaceutical industry with solid form screening and custom scale up.
At their incubation stage, Midlothian-based Solid Form Solutions (SFS) leased shared laboratory space at Roslin BioCentre, where the company was based for four years. SFS initially offered contract research services to the pharmaceutical industry and as the company rapidly grew, it expanded its services into process development, increasing its workforce and doubling turnover.
The company relocated in 2012 to larger premises at Edinburgh Technopole. SFS employed its first US based employee in 2015 and looks to expand its US operations.
We spoke with Dr Stephen Watt, previously CEO of Solid Form Solutions:
What is your background and role in the organisation?
I obtained a 1st Class Honours degree in Chemistry from Napier University in 1998 and went on to obtain a PhD in materials chemistry from Heriot-Watt University. Following this, I went to Cambridge University to become a Post Doctoral Researcher where I worked on Pharmaceutical Materials as a part of the Pfizer Institute. From there I joined a small Contract Research Organisation (CRO) performing solid form screening for the pharmaceutical industry before joining GSK as a senior scientist in their solid form sciences group.
After a short spell at another CRO heading up a solid form screening group, together with two other family members, I founded Solid Form Solutions Ltd in 2008, where I took charge of technical operations. Solid Form Solutions grew into a company of 40 people and my role changed into an outright CEO function.
What are your career highlights/successes?
Solid Form Solutions organic growth from a company of three people to a company of 40 people and seeing the revenue of SFS increase 38% from 2014/2015 to 2015/2016. The company was acquired by Avista Pharma in 2018 and this has subsequently by Cambrex in January 2019.
Highlights have also been providing job opportunities to local scientists and having the opportunity to bring the best solid form scientists and equipment to Midlothian. Perhaps, above all, the greatest achievement is being part of drug development programmes that would not have been successful if SFS had not been around and have thus go on to save lives.
As far as company awards, we were extremely pleased to receive recognition from Midlothian & East Lothian Chamber of Commerce as winners of the 2011 Business High Growth award.
What is the main purpose of the organisation?
Our services are used separately to solve specific problems, or in parallel to deliver a larger drug development program. Our aim is to be flexible, understand our client’s requirements and deliver workable solutions.
SFS’s solid form work programs include:
- Salt Screening
- Co-crystal Screening
- Crystallisation Screening
- Polymorph Screening
- Scale-up Crystallisation
- Physical Properties and Developability Testing
- Particle Engineering
- GMP Analytical Release Testing
What does the future hold?
Following acquisition in 2018 by Avista Pharma, their four sites in Durham, NC, Longmont, CO, Agawam, MA and Edinburgh, Scotland, UK were integrated into Cambrex’s global network. The company’s service offerings ranging from API and drug product development and cGMP manufacturing to stand-alone analytical, microbiology testing and solid state sciences.
Cambrex is an innovative life sciences company that provides products, services and technologies to accelerate the development and commercialization of small molecule therapeutics. The Company offers Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), finished dosage forms, advanced intermediates and enhanced drug delivery products for branded and generic pharmaceuticals. Development and manufacturing capabilities include enzymatic biotransformations, high potency APIs, high energy chemical synthesis, controlled substances and continuous processing.
Why did you choose to locate to a science park?
Edinburgh Technopole offered high quality laboratory space in a beautiful location. Also, Edinburgh has some of the best scientific facilities and people in the world; hence, Edinburgh Technopole is ideally suited. Furthermore, Edinburgh is my home town and an attractive place to live for people who wish to relocate and work for SFS.
What support/assistance do you find of most benefit within a ‘park’ environment?
SFS had been developed to be as self-sufficient as possible; however, being close to other scientific companies has been beneficial, on occasion, to share resources. Further the infra-structure of the park (i.e. for installation of scientific equipment) is excellent and has clearly had laboratory operations in mind.
What do you enjoy most about working in Midlothian?
Midlothian is a beautiful place to work and has good transport links (it takes me 30 minutes to travel from East Lothian to Edinburgh Technopole, the equivalent journey in the south of England took over 1 hour). Midlothian council is also supportive of young businesses, which makes starting up a whole a lot easier. The supportive attitude of the councils personnel and the many local grant schemes should model for national bodies.
For further information, please contact:
1 The Fleming Building
t: +44 (0)131 440 8000
- Milton Bridge
- Midlothian, EH26 0BB
Park Manager: Judith Sanderson
T: +44 (0)131 445 8600
Midlothian Science Zone
- Roslin Innovation Centre
- The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus
- Midlothian, EH25 9RG, Scotland
Enquiries: Project Team
T: +44 (0)131 651 9000