As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Dr. Ken Savin is an expert in avoiding waste and inefficiency. That’s why he viewed the idea of costly and rare chemical compounds sitting unused in one place, while researchers somewhere else spend the time and money to create their own version of the same compound, as a problem begging for a solution.
To Savin, the answer seemed clear: create a way to connect people in the market for rare chemical compounds with the companies, universities and research institutes that have batches of the stuff just sitting around.
As obvious as the solution sounds, it had never been done. Nowhere was there a searchable, central inventory database for rare chemical compounds. Savin thought there should be, so he started www.NovelCompound.com – a website dedicated to getting buyers and sellers of rare chemicals in touch with each other.
“I needed a website where people could search the available inventory, make a selection and get the transfer,” Savin says.
That’s where Ventures entered the equation. Savin needed help creating a website easily usable by chemists and others familiar with molecular structures. The website Ventures designed allows chemists to use the simplified molecular-input line-entry system (SMILES), as well as standard chemical structure drawing systems, to create the molecular structures of the compounds for which they would like to search.
“In many cases, the world supply of a novel compound could be held by one person who just wanted to see if it could be created,” Savin says. Researchers “will be able to find things they didn’t even know exist.”
Working with Ventures provided its own unexpected positive results, Savin says. The Ventures team not only created his website and made it easily usable,its engineering staff and student interns from Rose-Hulman offered valuable advice along the way.
“It was more than just people doing coding for me,” Savin says. “There was also some design and a consulting component. I really appreciated that.”