Our company

Specs, founded in 1987, has been in the business of handling research compounds for more than 30 years. We started out as a compound broker, sourcing and acquiring novel and diverse research compounds from global partners and selling these compounds to the life science industry. Our chemically diverse in-house collection, consisting of single synthesized, well-characterized and drug-like small molecules, has been built through global acquisition programs utilizing a network of more than 2,000 academic sources from more than 45 countries worldwide.

Our activities as a compound broker required us to register,store and reformat compounds for sale to our customers.  Since our inception, we have weighed and plated millions of compounds in nearly every storage format required by the pharmaceutical industry. 

As a standard procedure, all orders from our in-house repository are fulfilled “on demand” and shipped daily around the world. Our complete compound repository of 350.000+ compounds can be accessed online through www.specs.net.  

In 2000, Specs was the first compound supplier to launch an online chemical search engine enabling structure-based searches and ordering of chemical compounds together with viewable and downloadable analytical data. Tracking and monitoring millions of compounds and subsequent weighing and plating actions requires a reliable and flexible IT infrastructure to ensure a high degree of accuracy throughout the entire process.  

Compound management services

Introduction and background

In 1996, Specs began offering its expertise in handling compounds as an outsourced service; weighing out and plating several thousands of compounds for Organon, now part of Merck & Co. In 1997, we started our first on-site operation at the Bayer Pharma facility in Wuppertal, Germany, installing a fully functional, stand-alone weighing laboratory with dedicated Specs staff and logistic infrastructure and completed the entire project in 6 months, handling some 130.000 compounds.

In 1999, a similar project was undertaken for Bayer Crop Science, this time at our own facility in which 20 dedicated Specs staff, working in 2 shifts, completed the entire project in 8 months, processing 230.000 compounds of which 183.000 were transferred into 2283 plates of 3 plates each. Since then, we have performed similar projects for, among others, Roche, Boehringer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck etc. A complete reference list is available on request. 

Outsourced storage and handling

In 2000, we began our outsourced repository business by storing and distributing compounds for other global suppliers of research compounds. These services were a logical progression based on our in-house experience with our own collection. As a natural consequence, and to meet the demand of the US market, we opened a compound handling facility in Cumberland, Maryland in 2002.

In the past years, Specs has expanded infrastructure to accommodate our growing services business, such as more outsourced compound storage. Our corporate headquarters in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, now has a total storage capacity of 1500 square meters while our operation in Cumberland, Maryland has expanded to 2000 square meters. 

In 2012, Specs took over the storage and full Compound Management of the Geneva based Medicines for Malaria Ventures (MMV), Switzerland. On a daily basis, compounds are being delivered from external partners, put on stock, undergo QC-analysis on request, weighted out or plated and shipped to testing sites all over the world. The secure on-line ordering interface enables MMV to place orders, retrieve and track real time sample information, trace shipments etc.

Since then, we have welcomed several companies that recognize Specs’ growing expertise in the field of Compound Management like Roche, AstraZeneca, Lexicon, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim, Tocris and many more. 

At both our locations, in Cumberland and at our head office in Zoetermeer, we have installed dedicated, temperature controlled Kardex Remstar storage systems. To assure the safety of long term, off-site compound library storage for our clients, we have also installed two fireproof, seismic rated vaults, one for storage of remote compound collections, and another one for storage of duplicate (disaster recovery) compound sets. The modular design of these vaults allows us the flexibility to add-on for additional clients, while keeping compounds from different companies securely isolated from each other.  

Specs has relevant experience in every aspect of Compound Management. We have successfully stored, maintained, distributed and accurately tracked large inventories of samples for our customers. Furthermore, we have performed large weighing and liquid handling campaigns of up to a million compounds per project and we have performed numerous projects at both our facilities, as well as at customers’ sites around the world.