This year (2022) Reach Separations celebrates its 10th birthday. Over the last decade, we are incredibly proud to have supported over 150 clients into early drug development using our technologies and specialist expertise.
To mark our 10th birthday, our Business Development Director, Peter Ridgway, sat down for a Q&A session looking at our history, growth, the market, and future plans and ambitions.
Why was Reach Separations first set up?
In previous roles within pharma and scientific instrumentation support, it became clear to me that a gap in the market for purification services in Europe existed. A colleague had successfully set up a similar business in the US, which inspired us to go ahead and start up Reach Separations.
How has your service offering evolved over the last ten years?
Early on, our business focus was on supporting clients with small chiral purification. As our reputation in the market has steadily grown, so has the breadth and depth of our capabilities. Investments in large scale SFC and mass directed prep HPLC have opened up a variety of solutions to further support our client base.
How many clients have you worked with over the last ten years, and in what sectors?
Based upon the number of secrecy agreements we have signed, we have supported well over 150 clients. Sectors include big pharma, virtual pharma, agriscience, fuel additives, natural products and the occasional flavour and fragrance. Predominantly, we have worked with companies based in the UK and Europe, but have also worked with clients in South Africa and South Korea.
What do you think has been key to the growth of Reach Separations?
I think the key elements that have contributed to our growth have been our ability to get the job done quickly – including returning the sample back to the client sharpish – and being as transparent and accessible as possible.
Importantly, our growth wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our team of specialist scientists, many of whom joined us as graduates, or as apprentices from colleges in the East Midlands region.
What are you most proud of?
Starting Reach post-recession was a bold move. But to have started something from scratch and successfully proved to clients that Reach is the right solution for them has been very rewarding.
When Reach was founded, our team of four took on one small laboratory at BioCity, Nottingham. We now occupy three large laboratories and office space at BioCity, having expanded our facilities by an additional 1600 sqft two years ago.
It is also fantastic to see the growth of the business and the key contributions our employees make each and every day.
How have you supported the next generation of scientists?
Chromatography is not an academically taught skill. As such, we have drafted in the odd expert, but have mostly trained up graduates and turned them into specialist chromatographers. Most recently, we have launched our apprenticeship degree programmes and later this year will employ our third apprentice. The apprenticeships are an exciting development to our growth strategy and are already adding great value.
How has the chromatography market changed and evolved over the last ten years?
The application of chromatography as a purification tool has become more established and widely used. There is a greater desire amongst businesses to work with chiral molecules, as they know there is a straightforward solution to accessing single enantiomers. SFC as a technique has grown significantly from a core group of niche users to a more standard practice. However, the projects we work on are often in the more complex areas of chromatography, which keeps us all on our toes!
What advice would you give to life sciences businesses just starting out?
I would advise businesses to have a thorough understanding of the market space they are entering, adapt quickly, be capable of making decisions on the spot and be as open and honest as possible.
What are your plans or ambitions for the business over the next five years?
We plan to firmly establish ourselves in mainland Europe by expanding our Strasbourg facility to accommodate new business and new sector opportunities. The French flavour and fragrance industry will be of significant interest along with the natural products market space. Following this, we are hoping to explore opportunities in mainland USA and will look to secure a footprint there.
What are you doing to celebrate your 10th anniversary?
We have a fun team day planned in the summer which will involve watersports and being taught how to barbeque properly!