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Spark904, a new spin-off company of the University of Amsterdam's Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, provides analytical and spectroscopic services on demand. On 9 May the company was officially launched at the Startup Village at Amsterdam Science Park. 'We solve problems that are bothering you in your R&D labs,' said Spark904 founder and director Dr Monalisa Goswami to her potential customers.

Image: Spark904, Christina Couchena.

According to Goswami Spark904 'is a business that creates value from existing resources." Spark904 provides access to the state-of-the-art and routine analysis equipment of universities and premier institutes, for outsider scientists who so far had no access - at least not on a day-to-day basis. 'By doing this we effectively want to demystify the perception of 'state-of-the art' and accelerate the adoption of state-of-the-art technologies by industry." said Goswami. 'There's capacity on our end and there are needs on the outside. So why not couple the two?' But she stressed that Spark904 is not merely a matching platform. 'Once the match is made, we perform the analysis and analyse the data. So we are a real research and knowledge partner.'

Umbrella agreements

CFO Jan Overberg of UvA Ventures Holding raised a toast to the healthy future of Spark904. He stressed the importance of valorisation for the university and elaborated on how UvA Ventures Holding supports these business ideas – in the case of Spark904 by being the sole shareholder.

Spark904 founder Monalisa Goswami toasts with Jan Overberg, CFO of UvA Ventures Holding. The launch of Spark 904 was attended by members of HIMS and other research institutes of UvA's Faculty of Science, members of the Amsterdam Science Park community, tech transfer officers, R&D scientists of chemical companies such as Shell, AkzoNobel, Avantium, Huntsman, Tata, etc.. Members of the Port of Amsterdam, ProDock, and Flanders Investments were also present. Image: Spark904, Christina Couchena.

Gert-Jan Gruter, CTO of Avantium and UvA professor of Industrial Sustainable Chemistry, spoke a few words from his perspective as mentor to Monalisa Goswami since she pitched her plans for Spark904 at the Sustainable Chemistry Bootcamp 2016. But as an industrial chemist he also reminded the audience of the most important aspects of the Spark904 business from a client perspective: trust based relationships, short communication lines, and the advantage of umbrella agreements that enable swift project planning.

Sustainable Chemistry Bootcamp

Spark904 is a success story of the first Sustainable Chemistry Bootcamp in 2016, where Monalisa Goswami was one of three winners. Until March 2018, she was employed as a post-doctoral fellow under the valorisation efforts of UvA's research priority area Sustainable Chemistry to set-up the Spark904 business. Goswami continues to receive support and mentoring from ACE Venture Labs and IXA Innovation Exchange Amsterdam. Spark904 brings forth enhanced public-partner relationships and will thrive on the expertise and infrastructure that is fostered at HIMS and other research institutes of the UvA Faculty of Science.