3rd RSC / SCI

National Retrosynthesis Competition 2016


26th October - 11th December 2015 (first round)
Friday, 11th March 2016 (final)

Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, UK



Downloads and links

Post-event article

First round molecule flier

Terms and conditions


RSC website

SCI website


The Winning Team

Please read this article to learn more about the winning team from the University of St Andrews, known as "Totally Disconnected with Base".



To view the full sized image please here or on the image above.




The RSC Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group, the RSC Organic Division, the SCI Fine Chemicals Group, and the SCI Young Chemists' Panel are pleased to present the 3rd National Retrosynthesis Competition which was held at the Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House on 11th March 2016.

For many years, the UK has produced high calibre synthetic organic chemists, able to retrosynthetically disconnect complex molecules and natural products then solve the challenging problem associated with the forward synthesis. To celebrate this and following on from the success of the events in 2012 and 2015, the groups from the RSC and SCI presented the 3rd National Retrosynthesis Competition.

The event aimed to showcase the calibre of UK chemists from both industry and academia to showcase their retrosynthetic and forward synthetic prowess. An exciting line up of the UK's leading academic and industrial synthetic chemists judged the event, with the top three teams winning cutting edge scientific equipment and specifically designed trophies, donated by our generous sponsors. This is in addition to the acclaim and praise from peers, colleagues and the wider Chemistry community for winning the event.

How to Enter the Competition

The format for the event was similar to the 2015 competition, consisting of two rounds:

- The first round required teams to provide both a retro- and forward-synthetic route to a given target which will then be judged on brevity of synthesis, feasibility in forward synthesis, elegance and style of presentation. The closing date for submissions was 11th December.

-  A number of shortlisted teams were then selected (and notified by 18th January 2016) to progress to the second round where they were asked to provide a retro- and forward-synthetic route for another, more challenging molecule. These teams were then invited to present their routes to the judging panel and audience at the final event on 11th March.

Please read these Terms and Conditions.


First Round

The first round molecule is Corianlactone (see this flyer and image below) and, along with both Coriatone, are two novel highly oxygenated picrotoxane-type sesquiterpenes, with an unprecedented sesquiterpene basic skeleton, named coriane. They have been isolated from Coriaria nepalensis Wall plant and have showed interesting biological activity.

All entries had to be be submitted to Maggi Churchouse no later than 5pm on Friday 11th December. All entries had to use the PowerPoint entry template provided, which had been set up for 4 x retrosynthesis and 4 x forward synthesis slides, but these could be changed using the Slide Master options had you so wished.   (NB - No more than eight slides could be used in total, not including title and reference pages.)  Each entry also had to include the company/institution and team name in the file name.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Robert Wybrow.

Programme - Friday, 11th March
10.30 Registration and exhibition
11.00 Introduction and Welcome
  Session 1 Presentations*
11.10 One ED (CRL)
11.30 Bingo Starr & the Boron Aldols (University of Cambridge)
11.50 RetroSyngenthesis (Syngenta)
12.10 Oxford SBM 2014 (University of Oxford)
12.30 Lunch, exhibition and networking
  Session 2 Presentations*
13.30 A to Z of Retrosynthesis (AstraZeneca)
13.50 SYG Team 2 (Sygnature Discovery)
14.10 Dalton Towers (University of Manchester)
14.30 Refreshments, exhibition and networking
  Session 3 Presentations*
14.50 Team Vertex (Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Europe))
15.10 Totally Disconnected with Base (University of St Andrews)
15.30 The Fraglets (Astex)
15.50 Wine Reception (judges to deliberate and make their decisions)
16.10 Announcement of winner, presentation of trophies, thanks to judges
Wine Reception continues and networking
17.00 Close

*  Each presentation was be 15 minutes with 5 additional minutes for Q&A


Registration was free-of-charge, although all attendees had to register in advance.  There were several registration categories: finalist team member, member of the judging panel, invited guest, audience member (limited places), exhibitor (who would also have been a sponsor), organising committee member.


Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsors were encouraged, and any sponsorship was recognised by the inclusion of your logo in rolling slides at the event and in the delegate handouts, as well as on this website.


We are grateful to our confirmed sponsors:

























Exhibition Opportunities

All sponsoring organisations had the opportunity to exhibit at the final on Friday, 11th March, subject to availability, allocated on a “first come, first served” basis.  An exhibition stand comprised a table and chair, and the opportunity to display materials and to have pull-up roller panels (maximum of two roller panels, no wider than 1 metre each).



This event was organised jointly by:
RSC-H&SG  Royal Society of Chemistry - Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group
RSC-OD       Royal Society of Chemistry - Organic Division
SCI-FCG      Society of Chemical Industry - Fine Chemicals Group
SCI-YCP       Society of Chemical Industry - Young Chemists' Panel



Organising Committee

Robert Wybrow (Chair)   Syngenta, UK
Dave Alker                     David Alker Associates, UK
Susannah Coote              Lancaster University, UK
Rebecca Butler               Wolverhampton University, UK
Jason Camp                    University of Huddersfield, UK

Andrew Williams             Lilly, UK

Secretariat Contact

Maggi Churchouse, 3 East Barn, Market Weston Road, Thelnetham, Diss IP22 1JJ, UK

Telephone: +44 (0)1359 221004

E-mail: maggi@maggichurchouseevents.co.uk