Olon and the Department of Chemistry of the University of Milan create a Scholarship to develop new photochemistry processes

Alessandro Agosti

The goal of the project is to develop new alternative routes of synthesis based on photochemistry; a highly innovative, sustainable process that can be systematically applied to the industrial-scale production this Italian Chemical Group performs in its 11 production facilities worldwide.

Olon’s co-funding of the Scholarship will enable a PhD student from the University of Milan to work for three years on cutting-edge research topics, at the end of the course leading to the development of alternative processes for concrete industrial application at Olon sites.

“The goal of this partnership,” explains Giorgio Bertolini, Olon’s Research and Development VP, “is not limited to developing synthesis steps for specific targets — which we will get under way as soon as the collaboration starts — but, in general, it will contribute to systematic, widespread development of the know-how required for industrial application of photochemistry to the production of the active pharmaceutical ingredients in our current portfolio, and those we will be developing in the future”

The Department of Chemistry also has great expertise in flow chemistry, complementary to the area of photocatalysis. “This will enable us to develop continuous processes,” Bertolini continues, “and, again in this case, our aim is to facilitate the transfer of this know-how from the halls of academia to such industrial realities as Olon, with the future prospect of scaling up the photochemical reactions by flow chemistry”.

“The project represents a great opportunity for the University, for the Company and, finally, for the Researcher, who will be able to complete his or her doctoral degree while working on a highly innovative topic. This is an excellent opportunity to work together to study light-promoted reactions and develop new synthetic, environmentally friendly strategies,” comments Professor Maurizio Benaglia, Department of Chemistry, University of Milan.

“The idea is to harness light to create new bonds,” Benaglia adds, “a key issue in organic synthesis as it involves a broad variety of classes of molecules. Synthesizing them using light means finding alternative ways which are much more sustainable than those currently in use, both environmentally and economically. Light becomes the reagent; this is the key to innovation. Achievement is complex but obtaining the desired selectivity and efficiency will open the door to new reactions that would otherwise be impossible to achieve with conventional synthetic methods”.