We are very pleased that as a small company (now in its sixth year as a start-up), especially in 2023, we were able to research, publish, train and help partners (in their laboratory and in our laboratory) very extensively on our core topic of non-target screening, but also on instrumental analysis in chromatography (here in particular on SFC) and mass spectrometry. After the year 2022 – with its adverse external circumstances for our laboratory – in 2023 the processable requests increased again continuously, e.g. from the industrial and commercial analytical environment for NTS consulting and NTS products as well as for implementation in our Augsburg laboratory. So we were able to work on many interesting topics, answer new questions and even invest in new analytical instruments.
With the two research projects RIKovery and bee2diversity, we were actually in the final spurt of the project durations in 2023. However, due to various delays in the funding phase, both consortia applied to the respective project sponsors for a cost-neutral extension until 2024, which were also approved in each case. Thus, the individual cooperation groups can now transfer the previously very far-reaching and interesting findings into the real final phase in a concentrated and sustainable manner and validate future opportunities for use. Based on both initiatives, our NTS approaches establish molecular knowledge on industrial wastewater processes (with high salt loads) and on bee pollen-containing samples and flower samples, which we will also make available to other institutions in the future. More information (in German) can be found here here and there was also a first review article (in German) on the bees at the end of 2022.
We are pleased to be able to support the iMolch consortium – funded by the BMBF funding measure LURCH: Sustainable Groundwater Management – starting in March 2023 in the coming years on a subcontract basis with our NTS expertise and with our NTS routine analysis. We wish the consortium every success and insightful investigations and modelling.
As in previous years, in 2023 we made our experience and findings available to various initiatives and committees. For example, we actively supported the IGF project No. 21309 N – “ComScreen” as well as the FH cooperative project “DeepAuthent” (each with advice and analysis data) so that these consortia can transfer their developments into products in a targeted manner.
We also took on industry-related functions, e.g. as a member of the Industrial Council. We were also involved in technical committees and analytical committees, such as the committee ‘Non-Target’ in the Analytical Section and ‘Persistent Mobile and Toxic Substances’ in the Section Emission (both in the Water Chemical Society of the GDCh).
In order to be able to transfer research approaches into routine and industrial application, there are different approaches that can be pursued. In 2023, for example, we were actively involved in the regulatory procedures: DIN NA 119-01-03-02-16 AK “LC-MS/MS-Verfahren”, ISO NP 13808-1 “Non-target screening” – Parts 1/2 and DIN NA 057-08-02-05 AK “Validation concepts for non-targeted methods in analytics”.
And in 2023, we were once again able to bear the seal ‘Innovative through Research’ (awarded by the Stifterverband e.V.).
2023 was again a very publication-rich year for us. This year we had numerous inquiries from so-called on-the-bench journals and for the first time we published more ‘popular science’ than ‘scientific’ articles. In this way, we will hopefully achieve a further dissemination of knowledge on our routine concepts of polarity-enhanced chromatography as well as non-target screening in laboratories of a wide variety of orientations. For example, there were two scientific research articles (on Semi-Quantification in SFC-MS together with Anneli Kruve and a monitoring concept ‘Target/NTS to PFAS’ (download free of charge until 02/24) together with Hanna Ulrich and colleagues from the Bavarian Environment Agency (Bayerisches LfU) but also five popular scientific articles.
With ‘Beer Statistically Seen’ in the LVT Lebensmittelindustrie (open access download; German) and with ‘Modern Method Development and Use in Environmental Analysis’ in the LABO-Fit for Lab (open access download; German) we were able to place two articles with RPLC-HILIC chromatography (used in the NTS), but also reports on the -described below- ICNTS23 (open access download; German) and the German-language ‘Viewpoint: (Analytical) Chemistry – Is there really a shortage of skilled workers?’ in the G.I.T. Laborfachzeitschrift (open access download; German).
In 2023, it was also important for us to put the chromatography technique ‘SFC’ in the spotlight so that this very great separation technique would continue to advance into the consciousness of the analytical community. For this reason, we have published extensively on this topic and have entered into new collaborations (as can be seen in the ‘Partners’ section below). Our article in the AFIN-TS Forum ‘Supercritical Fluid Chromatography coupled to an Orbitrap Exploris 120 mass spectrometer – Quantitative Viewpoint‘ was published in English as well as in German by Analytik-News as a reprint (open access English – open access Deutsch) and other journals also showed interest in our findings in the SFC. That is why we are currently writing further articles on the application and method development of SFC, so that this separation technology will remain a major topic of our company in 2024.
Furthermore, we presented (among other things as part of our above-mentioned research projects) scientific posters with titles such as ‘Mass Spectrometric Non-Target Screening In Practice – Quo Vadis?’ at Anakon 2023 in Vienna or at the Langenauer Wasserforum. Further, we presented at the ZeroPM Prevention-Workshop in Gothenburg and also at the International Conference on Environmental & Food Monitoring in Amsterdam –ISEAC 2023– this year. If you are interested in the posters, please click here (for the poster from the ZeroPM workshop) or here (for the NTS poster on industrial water recycling) or here here (for the current ‘Quo Vadis’ poster) or here (for the ‘SFC as a NTS-gold standard’ Poster).
In 2023, various certificate courses and seminars in the field of LC-MS, mass spectrometry, DoE and polar molecules took place in cooperation with Springer Campus (as well as Sekulab and other partners). These took place again with numerous participants in the 3x3h format both in spring (Wednesday) and in autumn (Mondays). As a successful format, we will continue these flexible seminars in 2024 and beyond (and some of them will also be offered in English).
In addition, numerous In-House Training Courses on Non-Target Screening lasting several days were held in industrial, university and government laboratories in 2023. The primary interest was in professional water analysis, but other disciplines are also becoming more and more open to this type of analysis, for example, there is currently a great deal of interest in the field of ‘chemical and pharmaceutical process monitoring’ and there is an increasing demand for it.
We train vendor independently and, if necessary, we involve experts from the respective MS vendor in the establishment of systems and software; The same applies to implementation and training in data analysis and statistics.
In addition to our other training and further education concepts in our company (and within the framework of the AGBB of the GdCH; German), a lot of new and hopefully sustainable things took place in 2023. For example, the AGBB of the GDCh has created a training atlas for non-academic training, in which educational institutions can register and trainees can search. This will be a focus of our communication in 2024 and will continue to appear here in one or the other article. You can read about some of our activities in the G.I.T. Laborfachzeitschrift or in Chrom&Food or as als ‘merger’ in own edition.
We actively participated (see also posters in ‘Publications’ above) in several scientific events such as the PMT Workshop, Anakon, the Emerging Separations Technologies Symposium 2023, the ISEAC and the Langenauer Water Forum. These events enabled us to learn, to discuss and to present new things in analytical chemistry.
NTS Contract Analyses in our ‘Augsburg Lab’
Fortunately, we were able to fully resume our laboratory activities in 2023 – after this was only possible to a very limited extent in 2022 due to extensive renovation measures in the start-up center (and thus on our premises). In 2023, we were able to process more of the outstanding or new inquiries or products and thus serve topics from research, supply and disposal companies, authorities and industry. The work that was still open was completed quickly after the completion of the renovation at the beginning of 2023, so that more new orders could be accepted and processed again in the rest of 2023. We would like to take this opportunity to express our special thanks to all partners and customers for their understanding of the delays and the continued trust in us and our reliability. In 2024, we will also be back at the usual ‘speed’.
Last year, we strengthened our cooperation with our partner Thermo Fisher Scientific and successfully completed a long-standing cooperation project in the field of NTS and at the same time established a visionary (HILIC-RPLC and SFC) NTS laboratory in Augsburg. Together with the local and national managers, we were once again able to further develop the field of non-target screening technologically, but above all in terms of evaluation technology, and to transfer it into a wide variety of disciplines. Another example (in this case coupled with an Agilent SFC) can be found in our AFIN-TS Forum Post No. 9; Further announcements will follow at this point and joint seminars such as a joint ‘Compound Discoverer’ webinar (after 2023) are also planned for 2024 (for the latter, you can ask us directly for possible dates).
We would also like to thank all other SFC-MS, LC-MS and GC-MS companies on our partner site for supporting our efforts in the implementation of non-target screening for our customers with their own resources and expertise. This ensures that the appropriate devices and the appropriate NTS software can be used professionally. We are looking forward to working with other manufacturers to support their customers in NTS in the coming year. And if you as a user have a need, please feel free to ask your manufacturer and us at the same time; We’re sure there will be a solution.
In GC-MS and Non-Target Screening, we were able to take some important steps together with our partner TOFWERK (together with Bruker) and actively conduct an NTS-Workshop. We are very confident that we will be able to establish GC-ecTOF coupling in different disciplines of non-target screening in the long term (the continued interest certainly suggests this; do you also have applications for ‘volatile NTS’? Then feel free to contact us).
And this year, we would like to highlight the cooperation with Bischoff and HILICON, with whom we will take a significant step towards future-oriented chromtography in the coming years with the latest techniques in analytical column use and stationary phases. Especially in the area of SFC and non-target screening, we still have big plans with half a dozen academic cooperation partner institutions.
We will finish some research projects, other projects will stay, and still others will start. We are looking forward to proven partners but also to new interested institutions for a cooperation in the establishment and individual use of instrumental analytics, not least in non-target screening, so that the topic of NTS is known and, above all, used across all disciplines.
The other technologies of instrumental analysis will also continue to be trained and taught, so that there will continue to be competent laboratory staff who can do more than ‘just push buttons’.
You are welcome to visit us in 2024 at Analytica 2024 with a table at the Bavarian joint booth (Hall A3 Booth 315) of Bayern Innovativ as well as at MWAS 2024 and exchange ideas with us intensively or you can find us with scientific contributions at the DGMS Konferenz 2024, the WASSER 2024, the ISC 24 or other events.
But there is still enough time to competently advise, support, train and introduce you to NTS and other analysis strategies. Promised! :-)
Last but not least, we wish you all a good and healthy 2024 and hope to meet you all digitally, live and, above all, ‘NTS’ discussing.