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.

Sean Fielding RTTP
Director of Innovation, Impact & Business, University of Exeter

Sean Fielding / Director of Innovation Impact and Business, University of Exeter

Sean’s team handles the University of Exeter's support for collaboration with external partners whether for research, education or commercial business such as spin-outs and licensing. He is also responsible for strategic alliances, regional economic development and the generation of impact from the University’s research. Sean is chair of the SETsquared Management Board. He is a former member of the Board of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and the European Association for Knowledge Transfer. He is a Director for The Exeter Science Park.

Simon Bond
Board Member
Innovation Director, SETsquared

Experienced Director of business incubation, university enterprise & research commercialisation, specialising in business development strategies for innovation-intensive companies.

As a proactive member of the UK’s innovation community I serve on the Board of PraxisAuril, as Vice Chair of Low Carbon South West CIC, and as a member of the West of England Combined authority's Business Advisory Board.

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.

Mr. Tony Hickson RTTP
Board Member
Chief Business Officer, Cancer Research UK Commercial Partnerships

Tony Hickson BSc, MBA, CLP, RTTP is the Chief Business Officer for Cancer Research UK. He leads the Commercial Partnerships team responsible for the commercialisation of IP from CRUK funded projects, new start-up creation, licences and corporate alliances. Prior to this Tony was the Managing Director of Imperial Innovations Ltd, responsible for intellectual property sourcing, licensing and spin-out creation for technologies arising from Imperial College London. Tony has sat on the Executive Committee of IP Group and spent 5 years as an executive director on the board of Touchstone Innovations PLC, a company listed on the London Stock exchange investing in deep science projects from UK universities. Prior to joining Imperial Innovations, Tony had acquired 15 years of commercial and business development experience in bioscience companies including Wellcome Group R&D, Murex Biotech, Abbott Laboratories and Kalibrant Limited. He has acted as a board director or observer for a number of start-up companies including Polytherics (now Abzena), Catapult Therapy TCR, Zihipp and Precision Robotics, and was instrumental in the creation & development of companies such as Thiakis (sold to Wyeth/Pfizer in 2008), Respivert (sold to J&J in 2010), Circassia (listed on LSE in 2014), EMcision (sold to Boston Scientific in 2018) and Cell Medica (in advanced clinical studies). Tony has sat on the IP boards of two European Institutes of Technology (Healthcare and Climate Change), is a member of the BBSRC industry advisory panel and a board director of PraxisAuril. He has a diploma in company direction from the Institute of Directors and is a Certified Licensing Professional.

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.

Bryn Jones
Board Member
Head of Knowledge Exchange, 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.

Dr. Alistair McDermott
Board Member
Director of Science Led Services, Imperial College London

Alistair McDermott is Director of Science led Services at Imperial College London where he is Executive Director of two subsidiary companies. Imperial Consultants, the commercial gateway to the academic expertise of Imperial College London, where he is responsible for increasing the number of academics undertaking consultancy projects at Imperial College whilst maintaining the university consulting service as a self-sustaining business. Imperial College Projects Limited, a company focused on developing and delivering long term commercial projects for Imperial College. He also oversees of the development and delivery of large research-based consortia projects. Alistair has worked for a number of universities and Research Councils supporting those institutions in expanding their research and commercial portfolios. He has been involved in the development of large national and international scientific research facilities and creating industry led research programmes. He has led regional businesses support initiatives, set up start-up centres and created joint ventures. Alistair has a degree and PhD in Material Science from the University of Sheffield and an MBA from the Open University.

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 currently Director of Enterprise Services at the University responsible for the engagement of the University with business with a special focus on the development and delivery of professional development and executive education courses, technology transfer and commercialisation, apprenticeships 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 Associate Head for Research and Knowledge Exchange in the Faculty of Business and Law at Manchester Met, working to strategically develop innovative research and knowledge exchange initiatives, including major funded programmes. She is the faculty’s academic Impact Lead, and works to develop strategic links between the faculties of Business and Law, and Science and Engineering. She led the Centre for Enterprise to secure over £10M of funding for business growth and innovation support for small firms.

Dr. Iain Thomas RTTP
Board Member
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 work in fields as diverse as therapeutics, diagnostics, IVF, epigenetics and agritech. CE’s portfolio of products includes alemtuzumab (Sanofi), breast cancer markers (Brevagen) and mouse touch screen chambers (Campden Instruments). Spin-outs include Morphogenix, Mission Therapeutics, Cambridge Epigenetix, XO1 Therapeutics (sold to Janssen), Z-factor, Phoremost, Predictimmune, DIOSynVax and Storm Therapeutics. Iain led discussions with GSK in respect of the University of Cambridge–GSK open innovation drug discovery initiative based at the SBC and was the Cambridge lead for the Apollo Therapeutics Fund. Iain has been an active trainer for Praxis Courses since 2004.

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.