Isy Goldwasser, 29
Materials research used to be laborious. That was before Symyx--a company that is speeding up the discovery of new materials by applying the methods of combinatorial chemistry. Combinatorial chemistry involves synthesizing a large array of compounds simultaneously, then using innovative screens to pick out the winners--materials with desirable properties such as the ability to act as a catalyst. Symyx, a 1994 startup, is the first company specifically devoted to using this process to replace trial-and-error methods in materials discovery. In the last several years, the company has raised millions in private and venture backing and has signed partnerships with a who’s who of top chemical and materials companies. Much of the credit goes to Isy Goldwasser, Symyx’s co-founder and vice president of business development until he was promoted to president and COO last year.
The potential of combinatorial chemistry? Shortened timescales for finding new materials, and the ability to search a broader range of possibilities. When Goldwasser was hired as the company’s first employee, he says, "people thought we were crazy and we would never be able to do what we aimed to do, but we are proving them wrong."