The new technology-based firm (NTBF) Ionic Liquid Technologies (IoLiTec) was founded by three chemists, two of them with roots in the same university out of which Solvent Innovation (SI) had emerged. One co-founder who soon left the founder team contributed a big order for ILs.
The driving entrepreneur, Dr. Thomas Schubert, had already worked for SI as the Leader of Distribution for ionic liquids (production and distribution; technical synthesis and marketing of ILs).
In so far, the initial configuration for founding IoLiTec having already a customer did not only facilitated financing the startup, but could also rely on the experience of Dr. Schubert in the commercialization of ILs and his level of networking in academia and industry – mainly via participating in publicly financed R&D projects.
The case emphasizes a science-driven environment in which technical developments by startups have to track continuous scientific developments and success is not necessarily equated with large-scale production of ionic liquids.
IoLiTec has successfully responded to a number of issues associated with ionic liquids and to achieve competitive advantage in a technology push situation with very many fragmented and rather small markets.