Water instead of oil

Water instead of oil

How DexLeChem wants to make chemistry more sustainable

Green chemistry, isn't that a contradiction in terms? Not at all, says Sonja Jost. The industrial engineer presented the business model of her company DexLeChem, founded in 2013, at the entrepreneur meeting in cooperation with the Berliner Morgenpost.

The focus is on the idea of using sustainable chemistry to reduce environmental pollution, save energy and produce in the most environmentally friendly way possible, while at the same time avoiding hazards during production and in the product.

In fact, according to Jost, many companies are still producing today as they did 50 years ago. In chemical processes, the dependence on crude oil is still obvious. To change this, Jost offers development services for chemical companies with DexLeChem. The entrepreneur has invented and perfected a process that makes it possible to dispense with petroleum-based substances in the production of pharmaceuticals, for example - they are replaced by water.

 But anyone who thought that companies would be queuing up at Sonja Jost's to use the technology was disappointed: "I didn't think it would be so difficult to win a customer. Nobody in Germany wants to be the first for fear of failure." Only after one and a half exhausting years did she win her first customer, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Lonza.

Another problem in the chemical industry is that only 10 percent of innovations in companies are generated externally, with most companies relying exclusively on their own development departments. In Jost's eyes, this is a big mistake: "There is a huge explosion of innovation out there. However, many companies - especially small and medium-sized ones - either don't want to be embarrassed and openly collaborate with a startup, or think that the chemical industry has reached an innovation plateau - but it's only just getting started!"

In general, she feels a great deal of shyness and reticence when dealing with deep-tech start-ups. In terms of total venture capital investment in Germany, only 0.2 percent went to start-ups in the chemical industry. Jost was also dependent on investors from abroad.


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