GalChimia was initiated in 2001 as a spinout of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC). Since then, it is the only Galician business dedicated to research and development in synthetic organic chemistry, pharmacy, and biotechnology. Their agreements with foreign companies permitted them to enter the international market and they dedicate the majority of their efforts to this area.


explained that GalChimia “is a business of services, not products. We differentiate ourselves from other spin-outs in that the company was not created on the basis of a technology but rather on the knowledge and know how that we have.” This competitive difference created the situation in which they loan research services to other companies wherein they transfer knowledge and development once the commercial relationship has been established. “We were completing our doctoral dissertations and we believed that there was a market niche for a company that would offer chemical research services with high added value.”

When the company began, it was tied to USC with which they continue to closely collaborate and from which they obtain the talent of qualified perssonel to develop their projects. They also form part of the Life Sciences Campus (Campus Vida) of USC where they actively work on research. “We decided to apply what we had learned during the period of our dissertations in the Department of Organic Chemistry at USC to a private company via GalChimia in order to reach pharmaceutical, chemical, and biotechnological companies. From Galicia, we have become the virtual research department of international companies and it has worked,” Pampín added.

The company’s headquarters are located in O Pino (A Coruña) and the pharmaceuticals Almirall, Palau Pharma, and Esteve are some of their clients. In addition, they work for different technological enterprises such as Noscira, Midatech, and Genmedica.

One of the most relevant agreements of GalChimia was that reached with the Portuguese company, Alfama, to conduct research and development of new pharmaceutical products dedicated to medical and health care uses; this project was supported by EU financing. Both companies work in conjunction in order to find a preclinical candidate for a product capable of fighting against postoperative ileum (IPO), a pathology that provokes a delay in the recuperation of intestinal functioning of a patient after undergoing determined operations. This finding would reduce the average hospitalisation time of patients affected by this problem and, as a consequence, it would reduce health costs. The agreement was established, as company personnel remarked, “because GalChimia was able to convert itself into a social idea in terms of research, thanks to specialisation in chemical synthesis.”

They have recently established another alliance, in this case with the Israeli company HQL Pharmaceuticals, in order to carry out oncological research. Both companies collaborate on the research and the development of inhibitor molecules that work against protein-protein interactions directed toward routes of apoptosis, a programmed cellular death that occurs in multicellular organisms and plays a crucial role in the treatment of cancer. The compounds selected for the research will be synthesised at the GalChimia installations on a scale of milligrams and biologically tested in Israel in order to obtain precise activity data.

Innovation is the key because this crisis can only be overcome by two factors: moving into the exterior market and doing that by means of innovation. Things must be done differently which includes improving your processes, your products, your services, and your attention to the client. Sleeping is not an option". Carme Pampín


As the Executive Director recognised, this new agreement with the Israeli company is associated with a change in the business model. “We moved from working with biotechnology companies as a provider to becoming a collaborator in order to jointly develop a product that could become a pharmaceutical. We have to be able to detect the opportunities that exist within the current economic crisis environment and refocus our efforts on sharing intellectual property and carrying out research projects that we hope will return benefits. This is one clear example of how open innovation can lead a company to attain strategic alliances in order to position itself in a highly specialised, expanding market.

All of these agreements have made it possible that, today, three international companies are advancing products in Phase I using the chemistry that GalChimia developed. Phase I in humans implies that in vitro molecular tests have been passed as well as tests on animal models. Their view of the future is centred on internationalisation, an objective that for countries such as the United States has been paralysed by the new norms for entry of chemical products established as a consequence of the September 11 disaster. In addition to this setback, we must add the devaluation of the U.S. Dollar relative to the Euro as well as the mergers between multinationals in the pharmaceutical sector that have undermined one of the agreements that they had achieved, as company personnel recognised.

In spite of that, GalChimia are continuing to move forward with projects that include a research study with the Universities of Vigo and A Coruña in order to search for organic chemistry applications for enzymes obtained from heat-loving orga-­nisms, that is, micro-organisms that live in extreme temperature conditions in hot springs in Galicia.

Innovation is present in the very foundation of GalChimia itself and not only affects the work and the targeted sectors but also each one of the organisational phases that the company are working to improve “on a continual basis.” “We are trying to introduce innovation into all of the company processes,” the Executive Director emphasised. This is so much so that they are even attempting to revolutionise their sector with marketing campaigns that are both “attractive and ground­breaking.”

In relation to its competitors that are principally international companies, GalChimia stand out for the ability to offer a specialised service in chemistry which, due to an excellent quality-price relationship, has made it highly competitive. The billing for the year approximated 1.6 million Euros, an amount that the company hope to triple in 2016 thanks to the plan for growth. Today, the base staff is composed of 25 workers and this number is also expected to triple by 2016.