|Marcus Neumann, Founder and Managing Director||
You may be a theoretical solid-state physicist from Moscow …
… a geek from Cape Town or Seine Saint-Denis, a computer scientist from Boston, a crystallographer from Beijing or another skilled professional from one of the many locations that most people do now know of. And you may be dreaming of a lecture ship at the University of Cambridge, a permanent position at the MIT or a leading role in a large technology company such as GOOGLE. But now you have come across us, a small family business in the south of Germany specialised in Crystal Structure Prediction. Believe it or not, we may be the employer that you are really looking for.
My name is Marcus A. Neumann. I am the owner, founder and director of Avant-garde Materials Simulation (AMS) and passionate about science. By training, I am an experimental solid-state physicist with a strong mathematical background. After having learned to scatter neutrons and to write genial but also completely unmaintainable code at Institute-Laue Langevin and the Joseph-Fourier University in Grenoble, I felt the need to discover the world outside the ivory tower of science. And I had no taste for the instability and insecurity that comes with moving from one Post Doc position to the next in search for a permanent academic position. So I went to work for Accelrys, one of the best molecular modelling companies of that time, as product specialist and later product manager of the crystallisation software tools. While working at Accelrys, I met with scientists in pharmaceutical and chemical companies all over the world, and I discovered scores of applied computational problems that my studies had prepared me to solve. I also learned the hard way that profitable projects may no longer get support because of the exaggerated profit expectations of investors and upper management, that loyalty in companies does not necessarily work both ways and that you may get no reward for a ground breaking invention.
When I wondered what to do next in life, one day in 2002 I met my destiny. My favorite customer from a large pharmaceutical company (Marc-Antoine Perrin from Aventis) called me up and suggested – a first contract at hand – that I should start up my own business to write software for crystal structure prediction. With his support, and the help of other far-sighted scientists in several pharmaceutical companies I managed to create a champion, GRACE, which is the program that scored best in the last three blind tests on crystal structure prediction despite fierce academic competition. But I did more: I also established a company in the molecular modeling market that I could identify with. A company guided by the ideals of excellence, honesty, loyalty and sustainable development. A company that spends more than 75% of its revenue on research and development. A company that does business to fund science and not the other way around. And a company that strengthens, by the taxes it pays, a community which defends the fundamental values of peace, liberty, solidarity and education.
Most drug compounds are brought to market in solid form and contain small crystallites of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). The crystal forms of the API are screened for and studies at great length experimentally, but sometimes it happens that a new, more stable and less soluble form pops up out of nowhere and that the previously know forms can no longer be crystallized. When that happens, patients may not get their drug anymore, and pharmaceutical companies loose a lot of money. Today we have the computational tools to forecast such disappearing polymorph events in many cases, and we are learning together with our customers what we can do about it.
But for our customers, the threat of disappearing polymorphs is only one problem in a larger, related context. They need to get the API into the human body and must choose the right formulation from many options, involving the neat API in its crystalline or amorphous form, salts, solvates and/or co-crystals. They need to navigate around late appearing forms, needle growth, chemical instability, deliquescence and may other problems. And they trust us to develop software that will guide them to a formulation that keeps them out of trouble.
If we want to get there, we will have to be the best or collaborate with the best in many field of science, spanning high performance computing on LINUX cluster and on the cloud, fast and accurate multi-scale energy calculations using force fields and ab inito methods, machine learning, quantitative understanding of the amorphous state, crystal nucleation growth and morphology prediction, solubility prediction and more.
What we have to offer is nothing less than the kind job that I was longing to find when I first got onto the job market and that I finally had to create myself.
We offer enough flexibility for you to find the work-life balance that suits you. We offer insight into all aspects of our trade, including method and software development, but also sales, communication and marketing. We offer interaction with a network of leading scientists in industry and academia. And we want you to remain or become a recognized world-leading expert yourself in one of the subject areas that are important to us. And before I forget: we have good skiing in the winter, mountains with lakes in the summer, lovely beer gardens, culture, good shopping and relaxed neighborhoods where all you need is within walking distance.
There is one more to thing to say, though.
There is no place to hide. If you do not perform, everybody’s job is at stake. The team needs you and you need the team. Well, you may actually see this as an advantage.
All the best, Marcus A. Neumann