Vacancy: R & D Chemist

SGMA IS LOOKING FOR AN INDEPENDENTLY MINDED CHEMIST/MATERIAL SCIENTIST TO DRIVE DEVELOPMENT OF ADVANCED SOL-GEL BASED MATERIALS FOR PAPER COATING APPLICATIONS. SGMA HAS DEVELOPED NOVEL BARRIER COATING PRODUCTS AIMED AT THE REPLACEMENT OF PLASTICS IN MULTIPLE PRODUCT APPLICATIONS.

THE CEO, DR FANYA ISMAIL, IS A RECOGNIZED LEADER IN THE FIELD OF SOL-GEL CHEMISTRY AND HAS LED SGMA’S PRODUCT DEVELOPMENTS TO DATE. SGMA NOW SEEKS TO STRENGTHEN THE TEAM BY ADDING A DEVELOPMENT CHEMIST TO WORK ALONGSIDE DR ISMAIL IN ORDER TO DRIVE THE NEXT PHASE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, EXPANDING THE FIELD OF APPLICATION FOR THESE NEW PRODUCTS. THE RIGHT CANDIDATE WILL HAVE THE ABILITY TO CONDUCT MARKET RESEARCH AND TO TRANSLATE THIS INTO PRODUCT PERFORMANCE TARGETS, LEADING TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF ORIGINAL SOLUTIONS.

AS SUCH, THE CANDIDATE SHOULD BE ABLE TO DEVELOP THE DIRECTION OF RESEARCH PROGRAMS, INDEPENDENTLY PLAN AND CONDUCT EXPERIMENTS, AND RECORD ANALYZE AND PRESENT CONCLUSIONS OF THE WORK TO LEADING COMMERCIAL COMPANIES. HE/SHE MUST BE SELF-MOTIVATING AND ABLE TO MULTITASK IN MULTIPLE ASPECTS OF INVOLVEMENT IN A FRESH AND VIBRANT SME.

Applications to be Received by: Friday, 26th February 2021

Full vacancy details.

SGMA Secures £500k on Angels Den Platform

We are excited to announce that SGMA (Sol-Gel Materials & Applications) has successfully completed the transactions and closed a £500,000 (+£100k from existing shareholders) seed round to finalise the industrial scaleup of our award-winning paper coating technology. The round was managed by Angels Den Funding, an investment platform that matches a network of 19,000+ angel investors with early-stage technology start-ups. Throughout its history, Angels Den has raised funding for 270+ start-ups, which are now collectively valued at more than $1.5bn. Notable companies include Fat Lama, Bank of Telecom, CapDesk and, now, SGMA.

By working with Angels Den Funding, SGMA was able to find and welcome several strategic angel investors. Angels Den’s model is centred around identifying genuine common ground between entrepreneurs and investors who can add value beyond mere capital, positioning SGMA for continuous and rapid growth.  A huge thank you to the team for their fantastic work, especially during such challenging times.

SGMA Diamond Winner of MassChallenge Switzerland 2020 Accelerator

SGMA Picks UP Diamond

SGMA (Sol-Gel Materials & Applications) has been awarded the Diamond Prize in the MassChallenge Switzerland 2020 accelerator program. SGMA was one of over 1’000 other startups to apply for the accelerator located in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Among 1000s of applications, four rounds of shortlisting, three pitches to more than half a dozen of independent judges (different set of judges each time), SGMA’s CEO and Founder proudly picked up the TOP PRIZE (Diamond Award) at MassChallenge 2020 award ceremony held on Thursday 29th October in Switzerland.  Due to the unfortunate rise in COVID cases in Europe and various restrictions on movement between countries, the award ceremony was held virtually from Switzerland, with many of the finalists attending via Zoom.  The award comes with a cash prize of CHF 150,000 and no conditions attached! For more information please visit the link below:https://masschallenge.org/announcement/masschallenge-switzerland-awards-equity-free-cash-prizes-to-top-2020-startups

Since 2016 MassChallenge Switzerland has been a leader in helping startups across Europe and beyond grow their businesses. To date, the 270 MassChallenge Switzerland alumni have created value for both economies and societies by raising $ 242M in funding, $ 71M in revenue and creating 9,800 (direct and indirect) jobs.

Here is what our CEO & Founder Dr Fanya Ismail had to say ‘I was honoured and thrilled to pick up the top prize on behalf of our company. In a world were regulations, test methods, equipment, designs and specifications are all based around plastic, this award reflects a strong desire from all segments of society to change and move away from the materials that cause harm to the people and planet. This recognition fuels our motivation and to be more determined than ever to continue to work hard to bring about the change. `

~Dr Fanya Ismail (CEO & Founder of SGMA)

The global market urgently requires sustainable solutions to tackle plastic pollution and climate change. SGMA delivers solutions that are extracted from sand, sustainable and provides an alternative to plastic and a route to create effective non fossil-fuel based chemicals.

Dr Fanya Ismail was backed by Innovate UK in ‘Women in Innovation 2019’ for ‘using sand extracts to create a plastic-free sol-gel barrier coating’. 

About SGMA (Sol-Gel Materials & Applications Ltd)

SGMA is a Clean Tech venture with a sustainable solution to plastic environmental waste in food packaging and protecting PCBs in wearable technology. SGMA barrier coating made from sand extracts for fibre-based packaging provides a complete solution to replace single use plastics, eliminate the confusion among customers and fits into the recycling infrastructure of any country. SGMA barrier coating is biodegradable, compostable and recyclable. Learn more about SGMA by visiting https://sol-gel.co.uk/

About MassChallenge

MassChallenge is a global network of zero-equity startup accelerators. Headquartered in the United States with locations in Boston, Israel, Mexico, Rhode Island, Switzerland, and Texas. MassChallenge is committed to strengthening the global innovation ecosystem by supporting high-potential startups across all industries, from anywhere in the world. To date, more than 2,400 MassChallenge alumni have raised more than $6.2 billion in funding, generated more than $3 billion in revenue, and created more than 157,000 total jobs. Learn more about MassChallenge at masschallenge.org.

SGMA Selected for MassChallenge Switzerland 2020 Accelerator

SGMA joins global network of startups

SGMA (Sol-Gel Materials & Applications) is selected to participate in the MassChallenge Switzerland 2020 accelerator program. SGMA was one of over 1’000 other startups to apply for the accelerator located in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Since 2016 MassChallenge Switzerland has been a leader in helping startups across Europe and beyond grow their businesses. To date, the 270 MassChallenge Switzerland alumni have created value for both economies and societies by raising $ 242M in funding, $ 71M in revenue and creating 9,800 (direct and indirect) jobs.

Here is what our CEO & Founder Dr Fanya Ismail had to say ‘We’re delighted to be selected to participate in the accelerator program 2020. It is great to be recognized for our innovative technology, hard work and the high impact our startup is trying to make. This opportunity has come at the perfect time, as we scale up our sustainable solution to address the plastic pollution caused by single use food packaging. `

~Dr Fanya Ismail (CEO & Founder of SGMA)

The global market urgently requires sustainable solutions to tackle plastic pollution and climate change. SGMA delivers solutions that are extracted from sand, sustainable and provides an alternative to plastic and a route to create effective non fossil-fuel based chemicals.

Dr Fanya Ismail was backed by Innovate UK in ‘Women in Innovation 2019’ for ‘using sand extracts to create a plastic-free sol-gel barrier coating’. She is supported by Chairman Stephen Scruton who was Head of Research at HSBC and is Resident Finance Expert at Oxford Foundry, along with Michael Hughes who is currently the UK & Ireland President for Schneider Electric.

We are looking forward to engaging with industry experts, corporates, investors, stakeholders and a global community of change-makers. Stay tuned for updates and follow us on this 4-month entrepreneurship journey!

About SGMA (Sol-Gel Materials & Applications Ltd)

SGMA is a Clean Tech venture with a sustainable solution to plastic environmental waste in food packaging and protecting PCBs in wearable technology. SGMA barrier coating made from sand extracts for fibre-based packaging provides a complete solution to replace single use plastics, eliminate the confusion among customers and fits into the recycling infrastructure of any country. SGMA barrier coating is biodegradable, compostable and recyclable. Learn more about SGMA by visiting https://sol-gel.co.uk/

About MassChallenge

MassChallenge is a global network of zero-equity startup accelerators. Headquartered in the United States with locations in Boston, Israel, Mexico, Rhode Island, Switzerland, and Texas. MassChallenge is committed to strengthening the global innovation ecosystem by supporting high-potential startups across all industries, from anywhere in the world. To date, more than 2,400 MassChallenge alumni have raised more than $6.2 billion in funding, generated more than $3 billion in revenue, and created more than 157,000 total jobs. Learn more about MassChallenge at masschallenge.org.

Women in Innovation 2019

SGMA Founder and CEO, Dr Fanya Ismail, has been crowned as one of the winners for the prestigious award “Women in Innovation 2019” by Innovate UK, 

The announcement of the award, made to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8th recognises women with exciting, innovative ideas and ambitious plans that inspire others.  

This exciting adventure started with Fanya visiting 10 Downing Street at the invitation of the Prime Minister.  Fanya was later presented with Innovate UK’s purple plaque[1] by local MP and minister for small businesses Kelly Tolhurst. The purple plaque is in recognition of Fanya’s invention of SGMA’s coating system – a tool to eradicate single use plastic in drink, food and paper packaging.

“The response and support since the announcement has been overwhelming,” Fanya added. “We would like to thank all those who have reached out to us.  We are very much looking forward to the bright future in store for SGMA.

”Congratulations to Fanya and the SGMA team on this great achievement!”

View more information on the UK Government web site.

BBC South East Today

SGMA’s founder & CEO Fanya Ismail was featured on BBC Southeast Today.

A short story on BBC’s Southeast today highlights the plight our planet faces as plastic increases its global presence, even in the disposable ‘paper’ cups that we drink our coffee from. The plastics that make our cups waterproof prevents them from being recycled and adds to the plastic problem.

Fanya speaks about SGMA’s coating eliminating the need for plastic by creating a sustainable and environmentally sound solution while still giving our paper cups the waterproofing they need. It’s not just paper cups that can benefit from this treatment. Other paper-based products that are similarly plastic coated can also be coated in a way that has all of the benefits of plastics but without the environmental downsides, such as paint trays plastic plant pots, even cosmetics.

The news piece also highlights the piloting work being done in Malaysia, with a view to getting the product to market shortly.

You can view the full piece on our LinkedIn page.

Microplastics in the Arctic: A Cause for Concern?

What is their impact, and what does chemistry tell us about the problem and solutions?

Our increasing use of plastics extends to virtually all aspects of modern life. The problem of what we do with all the that plastic once we’ve used it is also increasing, and pollution from plastics is extending into areas we’d least expect. The environmental impacts of plastic are seen, not only in the high-profile news coverage of plastic pollution in our oceans, but has now even reached Arctic regions, raising the unexpected spectre of airborne microplastic pollution.

The impacts of, for example, plastic bags in our oceans, is easy to understand. Images of turtles, dying as a result of eating plastic, is sadly a common sight across media channels. The issue of microplastics, though, is far more difficult to see, to understand, and to tackle.

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What are microplastics and where do you find them?

How we define microplastics varies, however it is commonly understood that these pollutants are very small fragments of plastic which can be harmful to the environment, the animals that live in those environments, and potentially humans too. Plastics pollutants are generally described as microplastics if they are smaller than 5mm in length down to particles just a few microns across. In context, these size ranges cover the size of a pencil-tip eraser, down to the size of a barely visible pollen grain

In the modern world, microplastics are all around us. They can be found in air, in drinking water, in table salt – essentially everywhere. They have invaded seemingly every part of the planet today, even reaching the most remote and isolated reaches of our planet – the Arctic.

study by the World Health Organization (WHO) recently concluded that they have found no evidence so far that microplastic poses a direct risk to humans. However, they also cautioned against complacency as more research is still needed to fully understand how plastic permeates our environment and how it finds its way into humans.

Microplastics and climate

Scientists may have been puzzled over how microplastics make their way to locations far from the densely populated urbanised areas where they are generated. Some researchers have suggested that microplastics can be raised up by wind and thermal currents and then – through mechanisms which are not fully understood – transported long distances through the atmosphere. The microplastics return to the land from the atmosphere as they are captured in forming rain droplets, falling to earth as rain or snow.

We know our polar regions are highly sensitive to the impacts of global climate change. What we do not know, however, is how sensitive the Arctic ice and snow might be to the effects of microplastics.

Plastics and climate change

Climate change has always been a major factor when researchers and environmentalists call for reductions in global plastic consumption. The majority of the plastics we use on a daily basis are still made using fossil fuels, with this industry generating the equivalent of 1.7 billion metric tonnes of CO2 (a similar quantity of CO2 was generated by Russia in 2017).

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A Little Chemistry

As a chemist, I am always keen to get closer to detailed topics that involve chemical bonds! Understanding a little about the structure of water molecules (in both liquid and solid forms) – and in particular the forces that give water its unique properties – hydrogen bonds, helps us to understand a little more about the risks posed by microplastics in the Arctic.

What is a Hydrogen Bond?

Hydrogen bonds hold together many key molecules that are necessary for life: DNA; proteins; and water and ice. Weaker than covalent bonds, hydrogen bonds are still strong intermolecular forces that can hold molecules in tight associations, but without the chemical change of a covalent bond. Hydrogen bonds may form between atoms within a molecule or between two separate molecules.

The attraction is generated between two atoms within a molecule. With one of the atoms being hydrogen, and another an electronegative atom (such as oxygen, chlorine, or fluorine), the interaction facilitates strong association with another, nearby electronegative atom.

In liquid water each molecule is hydrogen-bonded to approximately 3.4 other water molecules. In ice each molecule is hydrogen-bonded to 4 other molecules creating empty spaces within the ice structure. When a large number of hydrogen bonds act together, they generate a strong synergistic effect – the bigger the hydrogen bond network the stronger it becomes. 

Liquid water has a partially ordered structure in which hydrogen bonds are constantly being formed and broken. However, when water freezes, hydrogen bonds orientate to a more ordered structure, causing water molecules to push farther apart, lowering the density to about 90 percent that of water. This difference in density keeps ice floating and it is an important phenomenon in cold places such as our polar regions.

Recent studies suggest than more than 10,000 plastic particles per litre have been found in Arctic snow. Such a large number of particles embedded into the structure of snow, raises questions over what impact microplastics might have on the structure of Arctic ice, and the hydrogen bond network that holds it together. Some studies on glacial melting have proposed a role for CO2 in disrupting the hydrogen bonds of the ice. By extension, could there be a potential risk from the presence of microplastics in ice, disrupting the hydrogen bond network, and expediting glacial melting or contributing to the retreat in the Arctic sea ice? 

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Solutions

More work is still needed to understand the impact of microplastics on our polar ice and the downstream effects on climate change and the health of Earth’s flora and fauna. Plastics and microplastics may take thousands of years to degrade, making it crucially important – and urgent – that we drastically reduce our global use of fossil fuel-derived plastics. 

Replacing plastics with sustainable and biodegradable replacements would represent a significant reduction is “disposable” plastics. 

Just considering plastic straws, for example: 350 billion of these are made annually (of which 23 billion arise in the EU), and they are the 7th most commonly found plastic in our oceans. Paper straws, coated with a water-resistant and biodegradable solution, such as the Sol-Gel coating developed at SGMA, can offer a simple option to reduce the current ecological burden from plastics. 

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Dr Fanya Ismail is CEO and Founder of SGMA, a chemical company focussed on providing sustainable practical solutions to today’s global environmental challenges. SGMA is committed to finding alternatives to plastic in many sectors including food, medical, cosmetic and home products 

SGMA
8 Pier Road Industrial Estate,
Pier Approach Road, Gillingham,
United Kingdom, ME7 1RZ
Phone: +44 (0) 1634780860
info@sol-gel.co.uk

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