Board Members

The Board oversees the performance of the organisation and of each of the co-ordinating Committees.

Upcoming vacancies on the PraxisAuril Board are notified to PraxisAuril members via the PraxisAuril website, NewsUpdate and Directors’ Jisclist.

Dr. Iain Thomas RTTP
Head of Life Sciences, Cambridge Enterprise Ltd

Iain is Head of Cambridge Enterprise’s Life Sciences team at the University of Cambridge where he and his team support researchers commercialise technology across the whole life sciences spectrum from therapeutics to agritech.

The team have helped spin-out Mission Therapeutics, XO1 Therapeutics (sold to Janssen), Phoremost, Predictimmune, DIOSynVax, Storm Therapeutics, NoBACZ, Morphogenix, Apcintex and Z-Factor (the latter three now founding assets in Centessa (NASDAQ: CNTA).

With colleagues at UCL and Imperial Iain founded Apollo Therapeutics with £40m and has gone on to raise £100m in 2021. Iain led discussions with GSK in respect of the University of Cambridge–GSK open innovation drug discovery initiative based at the SBC. Iain also led the founding of Ceres Agritech Partnership which from a standing start span out 3 companies in 3 years. Iain has been an active trainer on PraxisAuril courses since 2004 and is currently the Chair of PraxisAuril.

He started his scientific life with a PhD in Sydney, Australia, post docs in Oxford and Cambridge before completing an MBA at the Judge Business School in Cambridge.

Dr. Amanda Baxendale RTTP
Head of Research and Innovation Services, University of Derby

Amanda is Head of Research and Innovation Services for the University of Derby.  She has spent her career working at the interface between university and industry. This has included working for a spin-out company of the University of Nottingham which exploited the properties of super critical fluid in drug delivery technologies.

Amanda has worked in technology transfer and knowledge transfer roles in healthcare and biosciences at the Universities of Birmingham and Sheffield before moving to Derby. 

Maxine Ficarra
Board Member
CEO, PraxisAuril

Maxine Ficarra is CEO of PraxisAuril, having joined Praxis Courses Ltd back in 2003, when it was first set up to establish the UK's first national training programme for TT practitioners. Over the last 18 years, Maxine has worked with hundreds of expert practitioner volunteers and sector stakeholders to extend the organisation's professional development, membership and advocacy activities nationally and internationally.
She supported Praxis Courses Ltd through its merger with Unico in 2009 and guided the Boards of PraxisUnico and Auril through the formation of PraxisAuril in 2017.
Maxine is a linguist and has spent most of her previous career in international marketing and business administration and development, including stints in international mergers & acquisitions in the City at the French bank, Credit Lyonnais; at Chartered Accountants, Deloitte, Haskins & Sells (back in the day); and more recently in Cambridge at world-leading temperature monitoring specialist, Datapaq Ltd - which involved spending interminable weeks on exhibition stands explaining the properties of stainless-steel thermal barriers in a multitude of European languages.

Bryn Jones
Board Member
Senior Officer Strategic Partnerships & Innovation, Bangor University

Bryn is the Head of the Knowledge Exchange at Bangor University where he leads the team delivering business - academic collaborations. Based in the Research and Enterprise Office, Bryn has over 15 years’ experience of implementing a range of collaborative programmes including award winning KTPs and the ESF funded Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship Programme (KESS), which supports collaborative PhD and Masters with SMEs in the West Wales and Valleys convergence region.

In his current role, Bryn is responsible for providing a ͚front door͛ to business enquires at Bangor across a broad portfolio of activities encompassing enterprise, innovation, regional development and skills. Bangor͛s approach is based on ͚Putting Knowledge to Work͛, with a diverse range of private, public and third sector partners and delivering support focused on inspiring innovation, improving performance and promoting sustainability.

He previously sat on the Council of AURIL and is also a former chair of the Welsh Industrial Liaison Officers Group (WILOs). A fluent Welsh speaker he received an Exec MBA from Bangor University in 2012.

Ms. Gurmit Kler
Board Member
Director of Business Engagement, University of Birmingham

Gurmit Kler joined the University of Birmingham in September 2013 to head up a new Business Engagement function. Her role focuses on taking the brilliance of the University’s academic endeavour and ensuring it reaches out into industry in a commercially viable research collaboration. This has led to successful engagements with organisations such as Procter & Gamble, GSK, Pfizer, PWC, HSBC. Prior to this she has held senior management positions within the Energy, Travel and IT sectors focusing on corporate development and transformation programmes.

Her career has centred around engaging and developing relationships to maximise the business opportunity. A great rapport builder who believes in managing through motivating and fostering a strong service focused culture.

In her spare time she is a keen runner, yoga enthusiast and mummy of two.

Dr. Olga Kozlova RTTP
Board Member
Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement, University of Strathclyde

Olga is the Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement at the University of Strathclyde where she leads entrepreneurship and investment functions, industrial engagement and the development of the Technology and Innovation Centre Zone within the Glasgow City Innovation District.
Olga has a substantial track record in delivering successful translation of innovative research into economic growth and societal impact. She started her career as a RSE Enterprise Fellow and then moved on to become a founder and the CEO of a biotechnology start-up company. Subsequently Olga worked in a variety of roles supporting industry-university collaborations. In her previous role she founded Converge Challenge and grown it to become the largest Scotland-wide programme for converting university know-how and intellectual property into company creation.
She has worked extensively with small companies providing training and mentoring to the Converge participants and for the RSE Enterprise Fellowship Programme.
She is a Trustee of Young Enterprise Scotland, Governing Board member of the Scotland’s 5G Centre and a Board Member of PraxisAuril.
Olga is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Registered Technology Transfer Professional.

Amanda Selvaratnam
Board Member
Associate Director Research and Enterprise and Head of Enterprise Services, University of York

Following a scientific career in research and industry, Amanda moved into business intelligence with Glaxo SmithKline prior to joining the University of York in 1999. Amanda is Association Director of Research, Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (Impact) at the University responsible for the engagement of the University with business with a special focus on the impact and the development and delivery of professional development and executive education courses, technology transfer and commercialisation and regional economic development.

Amanda is also the Founder and Director of the Training Gateway an organisations that supports UK training and education organisations win training and education contracts and develop partnerships overseas.

Amanda has worked extensively in the ASEAN region and the Gulf and sits on the UK ASEAN Business Council representing Higher Education and SMEs

Mrs. Jennie Shorley
Board Member
Head of Engaged Scholarship, Manchester Metropolitan University

Jennie is Head of Engaged Scholarship and Impact Lead in the Faculty of Business & Law, strategically leading new engagements and interdisciplinary work with society and business. She supports staff to develop research and knowledge exchange projects, through the Get That Grant programme, and multi-disciplinary research sandpits. Jennie is also Head of Accreditations and led the School's successful Business School Impact System (BSIS) assessment, working to embed impact principles and activities across the Faculty. Jennie has strong international partnerships and and is a Non-Executive Director of PraxisAuril, the UK's leading body for knowledge exchange professionals. She has won over £12m from the ESRC, AHRC, EPSRC, ERDF, Erasmus+ and others, and is Co-Investigator on the ESRC’s Good Employment Learning Lab.

Dr. Adam Stoten RTTP
SVP Academic Partnerships, Evotec (UK) Ltd

Adam is SVP Academic Partnerships at Evotec SE, a global multi-modality drug discovery and development company. Adam has specific responsibility for creating new BRIDGE partnerships to accelerate the translation of academic science into new therapeutics. He has worked for more than 15 years in commercial roles encompassing business development and licensing, new venture formation, product development, lobbying/advocacy and general management. Prior to Evotec, Adam was Chief Operating Officer and board director at Oxford University Innovation Ltd (OUI) where he led Oxford's technology transfer and consultancy activities. While at OUI he was a member of the team that negotiated the Oxford COVID vaccine partnership with AstraZeneca, was a founding director of Vaccitech Ltd and EvOx Therapeutics Ltd, served as a board observer for MiroBio and Dark Blue Therapeutics, and was a co-architect of Evotec's first BRIDGE; LAB282. Between 2010 and 2013 Adam worked as Deputy General Manager for the Oxford-Emergent Tuberculosis Consortium Ltd, a joint venture between the University of Oxford and Emergent BioSolutions Inc, which conducted the first ever efficacy study of a next generation TB vaccine in infants. Prior to this Adam worked in healthcare consulting with Technomark Ltd and then in increasingly senior commercialisation roles at Isis Innovation.

Dr. Matthew Sutherland
Associate Professor, Northumbria University

Matthew is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing. His research interests include work-based learning, Higher Education marketing, knowledge exchange, and small business growth.
Matthew is an active member of the HEA, and has over 10 years’ experience of teaching on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. As a teaching mentor, he works with colleagues across the department and supports and trains new teaching staff. He has extensive module tutorship and programme management experience.
Matthew is currently supervising 4 doctorates (PhD and DBA) in the marketing field and has supervised to completion. He is also an external examiner at Anglia Ruskin University.
In 2013, Matthew established the Marketing Internship Programme and currently works with over 240 North-East SMEs, as well as some of the region’s larger businesses including Greggs plc. He is a trained assessor for the Small Business Charter and currently leads the Northumbria University reaccreditation submission 2020. Matthew has secured over £1 million worth of research income from his extensive knowledge exchange activity. He is currently leading a team of 10 on a national project with Sage (UK) Ltd, only 1 of 6 such projects funded nationally.
Outside of work Matthew is a school governor, sits on a number of boards, and is chair of a North-East based charity.

Dr. Andy Walsh RTTP
Board Member
Director, Academic Liaison, GSK

Andy Walsh joined GSK in August 2017 as a member of the Academic Liaison team where he supports the engagement between GSK scientist and their collaborators in academia.
Previously he worked at Cambridge Enterprise where he managed a wide range of technologies in the life sciences field from novel approaches in medical imaging through to novel therapeutics through license deals and spin-out company formation.
Before joining the technology transfer profession, Andy was a researcher in the field of molecular biology, first at the University of Leeds and then at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.