Starting a company is never an easy task, and this is true also for Franco Dompé, founder of Dompé farmaceutici. Similarly to certain start-ups today, universities play a key role in the business’s seed stage. After a degree in Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Pavia in 1936, Franco declares that it’s his intention to produce new original pharmaceutical formulas in collaboration with a network of professors.
From day one, he has one thing in mind: pursue innovation. And to achieve this goal he chooses the harder path: instead of joining Dompé-Adami, his father’s successful pharmaceutical lab, he starts his own drugs production. His father Onorato’s know-how, however, is going to be crucial: Franco, in fact, develops the first drugs based on Dompé-Adami’s preparations. This is what happens with the anti-cough medicine Creosotina: launched by Onorato, this product will be later on perfected by Franco, evolving into Guaiacalcium.
By the end of 1939, three preparations are already registered under his name: Canfo-Magnesina, Bismocanfol and the above mentioned Guaiacalcium. Many other drugs would follow, if it weren’t for something that often puts off entrepreneurs in Italy: bureaucracy. Along with the endless procedures for drugs approvals, the startup also faces difficulties in sourcing raw materials and machineries; these, in fact, could only be purchased in Italy because of the regime’s autarchy.
But bureaucracy is not the only obstacle Franco has to overcome: a much more fearsome enemy comes up a few years later, World War II. Franco, however, doesn’t feel discouraged and continues to submit requests for the approval of new medicines. In November 1940, moreover, he finally sets up his own company, Dompé farmaceutici.
At the end of the war, the 35-year old “startupper” is more determined than ever. First of all, he provides funding for the reconstruction of Onorato’s factory in via San Martino 12, where he will later on move the headquarter of his own company. Furthermore, he invests in the development of avantgarde machineries for the production of medicines in vials: this technology will greatly contribute to the company’s expansion.
And so, ten years after its birth, Franco’s “startup” is finally ready to take off.