Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies (COMET) are funding initiatives supported by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) to enable and support collaborations between industry and academic institutions. The objective of the “K-Project” line is to initiate high-quality research in science-industry cooperation with a medium-term perspective and a clearly defined subject having the potential for further improvement.
The COMET – K-Project CC FLOW is an international consortium currently consisting of three scientific and 13 industrial partners with an initial four year funding phase (7/2017-6/2021, project volume ~4.7 Mio €). The realization of the K-project provides funding for 3 Postdocs, 8 PhD students and >10 MSc students (per year). Prof. C. Oliver Kappe (University of Graz) is the Scientific Director of CC FLOW with the Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering (RCPE) in Graz acting as the Consortium Leader.
The overall goal of CC FLOW is to generate expertise and technology enabling the continuous manufacturing of APIs in an efficient, safe and sustainable manner. Our approach heavily relies on principles related to process simplification, process intensification and process integration. This will ultimately contribute to a more cost-effective manufacturing of high-quality medicines.
These challenging goals are achieved by firmly integrating the diverse skill-sets of the three scientific partners University of Graz (UG), Graz University of Technology (TUG) and the Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering (RCPE) with the know-how and experience of the industrial partners. These skill-sets include, but are not limited to: synthetic chemistry, chemical engineering, process analytics, plant and process engineering, simulation science, additive manufacturing and separation sciences. By combining all the above multi-disciplinary skill-sets overcoming the challenges of developing continuous API synthesis will be possible. A strong paradigm in virtually all of the projects conducted within CC FLOW is scalability. Processes and technologies developed within CC FLOW must be scalable to industrial scale, and thus of practical use for the generation of APIs. These activities enable CC FLOW to develop novel and innovative methods for the continuous production of APIs and, at the same time, to develop a deep fundamental scientific understanding of all the key parameters along the process chain, from synthetic chemistry and reaction engineering to reactor and plant design.
The CC FLOW Consortium brings together the core expertise at the scientific partner UG in the area of synthetic chemistry and lab scale continuous flow processing, with extensive know-how at TUG and RCPE in chemical engineering, simulation, process and particle research, process analytics and sensor technology. This know-how is supplemented by internationally recognized expertise in the area of process integration and large-scale continuous manufacturing by our industrial Partners Lonza, Patheon and Microinnova. A major input to the consortium is made by pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, and UCB Pharma who all have significant interest in continuous chemical processing. In addition to the above institutions and companies, the consortium includes equipment and technology providers for both lab scale (ThalesNano) and industrial scale (Chemtrix) continuous processing, and facilities for rapid prototyping/3D-printing of microreactors (Anton Paar, Lithoz), essential to the planned projects. Additional input to these themes is provided by local SMEs that focus on process simulation and engineering (Prozess Optimal, E.L.T. Werkzeugtechnik), and on process analytics (Phyllon). Janssen Pharmaceutica and Zaiput Technologies currently have the status as associated partners.
COMET is sponsored by the Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) and the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW), which are following up on the success of their previous competence center programmes. The Austrian provinces also support COMET with additional funds. The Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG is responsible for the management of COMET.
The strategic objectives of COMET are: developing new expertise by initiating and supporting long-term research co-operations between science and industry in toplevel research, and establishing and securing the technological leadership of companies. By advancing and bundling existing strengths and by integrating international research expertise Austria is to be strengthened as a research location for the long term.