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Prof. Daryl R. Williams graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Physical Chemistry from University of Melbourne, Australia and a M.Sc. in Polymer Science from Lehigh University, USA, before coming to Imperial College London to complete his PhD. He is founder and Managing Director of Surface Measurement Systems and the Professor of Particle Science in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College. Here I am sharing an interview with Prof. Daryl R. Williams
Can you tell me a little about your background?
I initially trained as a physical chemist in Australia prior to taking a scholarship to study chemical engineering at Imperial College London. I have since pursued a research career working with global industrial research partners on advanced materials characterization and manufacture.
What is your current position at Surface Measurement Systems and Imperial College London?
Prof. Daryl R. Williams founder and Managing Director of Surface Measurement Systems
I am the Managing Director of Surface Measurement Systems and Professor of Particle Science at Imperial College.
What have been the main accomplishments of the Surface Measurement Systems during the last five years?
The main developments have been the release of the several groundbreaking DVS instruments, including the DVS Adventure, DVS Resolution, DVS Endeavour, and DVS Discovery instruments.We have also seen a big expansion of our international sales business, including the exciting opening of SMS India.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving company goals?
SMS has traditionally invented new research instruments, unlike many other scientific instrumentation companies. So, a major challenge is informing and educating scientists globally of these new measurement approaches that we invent that can help them in their work.
“We are keen to expand our global business, and our highest priority is India where we have ambitious expansion plans.”
How do you build a good rapport between the various departments at Surface Measurement Systems?
All of our staff share a common mission, to make world class research instruments for our world class global customers. So, we share a common mission of doing the best we can for our customers.That is sometimes very challenging, often we stretch the scientific and technological boundaries with our instrumentation technology; often we are asked to do the impossible, most times we can do it!
Can you tell us a little bit about how Surface Measurement Systems came into being?
Over 25 years ago we invented the Dynamic Vapour Sorption instrument. Working with staff scientists from Pfizer Sandwich, SMS’s new technique allowed the water sorption uptake of solid state pharmaceuticals to be characterized 20 times faster with 20 times less sample and 20 times more accurately.
This method revolutionized industrial practice in the pharmaceutical sector, and now every one of the world’s largest 20 pharmaceutical companies use SMS’s DVS products. Now every year over 1000 scientific papers and patents cite the DVS method in their publications.
How do you decide on what projects, ideas, and strategies to pursue?
We talk a lot internally, and externally with our customers and collaborators, before we evolve an idea into a new project, whether it be a new instrument or a new commercial venture.
How do you go about evaluating the research needs of customers when they first come to you?
Our first question is very simple: what is the scientific question to be answered on the customers material, be it cement, hair or a pharmaceutical.
From our understanding of that key question, then we can review the scientific experimental methods we need to deploy based on our extensive product range. Whether we are working with MIT, NASA, Google or a potential new customer, the process is the same.
What’s the SMS philosophy on supporting the research of your users after the sales process has concluded?
We see ALL of our relationships with our users as a long-term partnership. We endeavor to provide advanced materials research tools to facilitate innovative research by our customers. Providing scientific solutions is our core business, and we have over a dozen PhD scientists whose job it is to support our customers and their science globally.
What is your opinion on COVID-19 situation and its effects on the Pharma and Bio-pharmaceutical industry?
We are seeing probably one of the greatest global health crises of the past 100 years. We have seen first-hand the amazing benefits to society of having an outstanding pharma and bio-pharmaceutical industry that can produce a new vaccine from scratch within 12 months; truly amazing! We just need to make billions of doses quickly, a mission that India is leading the world on.
Does it give opportunity for the Pharmaceutical industry to showcase its importance?
If we ever had any doubt about the importance of the pharma and bio-pharmaceutical industry, then we are seeing the clearest demonstration that we will probably ever see in our lifetime of its global importance. To be clear, these new vaccines will save 10’s of millions of lives.
What are the key objectives that you would like to achieve in the upcoming three years?
We are keen to expand our global business and our highest priority is India, where we have ambitious expansion plans. We plan to be a major partner for India’s globally important pharma and bio-pharmaceutical industry.
Where can researchers find our more about Surface Measurement Systems, your instruments, and the DVS method?
Our website has detailed information on our DVS method and instruments, as well as our unique instrumentations for the Inverse Gas Chromatography method. You can also find a range of Application & Technical Notes to further detail how they can be employed in specific fields of research.
We also regularly host educational webinars, and have an upcoming conference & networking event for the global scientific community, Sorption Science Symposium 2021 Online, taking place on 22 & 23 September later this year. You can find all of this at www.surfacemeasurementsystems.com