Solvent Innovation (SI) is a university spin-out of two co-founders experienced in the science of ionic liquids (ILs) utilizing special public funds for the start-up. SI developed, manufactured and distributed ILs, ultimately for applications as functional materials.
Industry requests for IL samples to the university researchers was seen as an opportunity to start a new venture having already customers on foundation.
Referring to ILs provides exemplary insights into aspects of the birth of markets out of science and the approaches of entrepreneurs to grasp corresponding opportunities based on technology.
This and related cases tackle entrepreneurship perceived as innovation based on a platform technology with broad applicability for many markets (“technology push”).
Furthermore, the area has a very limited number of players and startups founded within a short period of time. This will provide insights about the different approaches followed to exploit the opportunity perceived to exist for ionic liquids and how they relate to success or failure.
Solvent Innovation was purchased in 2008 by the German large firm Merck KGaA with the goal to complement the activities it has in ILs and acquire technical know-how and experience.