Insights Into Building CROs in Asia and in Europe

A conversation with Dimitrios Tzalis

What does it take to building great companies?

During my morning run, I listened to a podcast of the investor’s podcast network featuring Jim Collins, the author of books like “From Good to Great.”

In this episode, he was talking about what makes the team building a great company.

One of his examples was

“The 20 Miles March”

He is talking about the disciplined building of a company with a growth perspective of 20 percent per year. In Jim Collins's view, this mindset is necessary to create one-year success, and the game shifts once the team starts putting their mental energy into figuring it out for 20 consecutive years.

Consistent, disciplined action, similar to a walk across America with a 20 Miles per day target. Bubble in 1999

After listening to that, I remembered the first stock market hype in my adult life. It was the bubble in the second half of the 90s.

At the university and the research organization “Evolaris,” I drew up business cases of the novel companies that emerged in the new internet economy.

Some promised that the economic rules would change entirely.

One proverb I remember until today:

During a gold rush, you can run and start digging for gold, or you can sell shovels.

While writing the quote, I put it into Dr. Googles Search Engine, and it is still a running quote in the startup economy.

Selling shovels is the surefire way to make money. For example, in the Californian gold rush, Levi Strauss sold Jeans to the miners. Of course, some miners got incredibly rich, but most people who ran after the gold didn’t find anything.

Levi Strauss Company is still there and selling Jeans.

What happened to the companies? Many vanished in 2001, but at least Apple and Microsoft are worth more than 2 trillion dollars in August 2021.

The Pharma Industry in 2021

Since the pandemic started, it feels like another Gold Rush has started. The tailwinds for pharmaceutical companies and their R&D organizations are big since March 2020.

Biontech, Moderna, Sinopharm, Curevac, or Pfizer are a few names present in the media 24/7. Before 2020 hardly anybody outside the pharmaceutical industry recognized those companies.

But not only the novel mRNA Technology, which I consider as a game-changing technology is drawing attention. Also, the progress in Gene-Editing draws attention to the Industry since Intellia’s successful interim results of a clinical phase 1 trial.

People who want to change the world with deeptech technology in the pharmaceutical industry also can start digging for gold by developing technology from basic research to the market or selling shovels.

In this episode, I have the honor to talk with one of the most experienced life science entrepreneurs in Europe who has built several companies.

We will talk about life science business models, Taros Chemicals' company, and how the industry changed over the last 25 years.

Dimitrios Tzalis:

Dimitrios received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). In addition, he completed a Master of Science in Chemistry from the University of Chicago and a Master of Science in Biochemistry from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, USA. In 1998 he completed a postdoc in Marburg. Afterward, he founded Taros Chemicals GmbH & Co. KG, one of Europe‘s leading chemical CRO companies for drug discovery chemistry and custom synthesis services.

Since Taros’ Inception, Dimitrios has been an active player on the European biotech scene and a serial (co) founder of biotechnology companies. He is the author of 18 publications and holds 4 patents. Dimitrios played a leading role in establishing the world’s largest publicly funded drug identification platform.

The European Lead Factory (ELF) is a pan-European consortium of 30 cooperation partners from industry and academia, with a total investment of EUR 196 million. As a member of the Project Executive Board and the Project Management Team, Dimitrios ensured that the project received a subsequent funding round of 5 years.

Taros, a privately owned chemistry CRO and custom synthesis provider, has been serving pharmaceutical, biotech, and chemical companies since 1999.

Within our drug discovery division, we provide discovery and medicinal chemistry services to clients on their way to the next clinical candidate. Having a strong scientific track record on many biomolecular targets in all main therapeutic areas we add considerable value to collaborations from target validation and hit identification to lead optimization. Our chemical services include discovery chemistry, custom synthesis, process chemistry, medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry and molecular modeling, and the design of compound libraries and the production of screening compounds.

Taros Chemicals:

Within our materials science and performance chemicals division, we provide custom synthesis and chemistry services to clients with a need for custom chemicals on their way to develop innovative materials and products relevant for optoelectronics, coatings, adhesives, performance plastics, petrochemicals, consumer goods, etc... Our custom chemical services include custom synthesis, process chemistry and custom manufacturing. We support our customers by providing first kg quantities of fine and specialty chemicals, cost reduction of existing syntheses, streamlining chemical processes considering HSSE objectives, and increasing their supply independence for key raw materials and compounds that are commercially unavailable.

Do you want to learn more about the European Life Science Industry, Taros Chemicals, and Life Science Entrepreneurship?

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Noteworthy Articles:

FDA Gives Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine Full Approval The U.S. gave full approval for use of the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. PFE -3.10% and partner BioNTech SE BNTX -3.64% Monday, a move quickly followed by announcements from the Pentagon, the New York City school district and others that they would begin requiring vaccinations. Read more…

Pre-activated antiviral innate immunity in the upper airways controls early SARS-CoV-2 infection in children Our data provide clear evidence that the epithelial and immune cells of the upper airways (nose) of children are pre-activated and primed for virus sensing. This is likely a general feature of the children’s mucosal immune response, but particular relevance for SARS-CoV-2. Read more…

Lipid nanoparticles for mRNA delivery In this Review, we discuss the design of lipid nanoparticles for mRNA delivery and examine physiological barriers and possible administration routes for lipid nanoparticle–mRNA systems. Read more…

Upcoming Event:


Retail start-ups watch out:

Austria and CEE's most exciting retail ideas are being sought for the start-up pitch at the European Retail Startup Night on 21.10.2021 at the Talent Garden Vienna.

Whether food, near-food or non-food... All applications related to retail are welcome.

Startup Pitch Application:

Apply for one of 10 pitching slots of the European Retail Startup Night 2021 and present in front of renowned retail companies and investors.

Application process:

Send your pitch deck via e-mail to by 21/09/2021 at the latest. You can submit your application in English or German.

Further information about the application and the program: Pitch Call European Retail Startup Night  


Investing in Life Science

In 2021 I thought it was smart to shine more light on life science companies, as more and more people and institutions got interested in investments in the pharmaceutical industry.

The life science b2b value chain is one of the most complex ones. Without deep insight into science, it is challenging to judge from the outside which companies technology and the team will thrive and which not.

All that changed with the pandemic as many people wanted to help move innovative vaccines and therapies forward.

The Genomics Revolution

Yet already in 2014, Cathie Wood started Ark Invest, which manages ETFs based on disruptive Platforms of Innovation.

In the Big Ideas Reports 2017201820192020, and 2021 she highlighted those Platforms and presented the most recent developments in these fields every year.

One of those 5 Platforms of Innovation is the Genomics RevolutionHer fund invests in companies that are moving innovation forward in these areas:


  • Targeted Therapeutics

  • Bioinformatics

  • Molecular Diagnostics

  • Stem Cells

  • Agricultural Biology

Since its inception, the ARK Genomics Revolution ETF companies have delivered a return of almost 30 percent each year. This is roughly three times the average annual return of an S&P 500 ETF.

CRISPR Stocks Skyrocketed Since the Recording

So I thought it would be a smart idea to chat with experts from the LSG2G community about this promising technology.

Between the recording and publishing the episode, something significant happened:

Intellia Therapeutics to Present Interim Clinical Data from Ongoing Phase 1 Study of NTLA-2001 for the Treatment of Transthyretin (ATTR) Amyloidosis at the 2021 Peripheral Nerve Society Annual Meeting Data to offer insight into safety and pharmacodynamics of NTLA-2001, the first-ever systemically administered in vivo CRISPR therapy candidate Read more…

Intellia is the company of Jennifer Doudna. She and Emmanuelle Charpentier were awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry "to develop a method for genome editing" (through CRISPR).

The data readout called a "landmark" by H.C. Wainwright analyst Michael King, Jr. fueled sharp gains in peers focused on CRISPR technology, including Beam Therapeutics (BEAM), Editas Medicine(EDIT), and CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP).

Aelian Biotechnology

So, it is about time to shine a light on these hot topics in the LSG2G Podcast series. This episode intends to help make deeptech science understandable for retail investors and institutions that are new to life science.

Aelian Biotechnology is one of the companies positioned in this field in one of the European hotspots of Gene Editing: Vienna. The company combines CRISPR screening with single-cell RNA sequencing, leveraging two transformative technologies to enable genetic screening for complex phenotypes.

It utilizes the CRISPR screening workflow to map the impact of thousands of genetic perturbations on the global transcriptome at single-cell resolution, thus effectively establishing a paradigm for next-generation CRISPR screens.

The powerful approach has broad applications in identifying novel drug targets or elucidating unknown mechanisms of actions of drugs.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with the founders

about the past, present, and future of the Genomics Revolution.

In this episode, we will cover questions like:

  • How to create a novel life science company focusing on Gene Editing.

  • What is Gene Editing?

  • Why is there so much excitement around Genomics, CRISPR, and Gene Sequencing?

  • Where does it all come from?

  • What developments are already in the pipeline that will change society?


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