Hi, I’m Mairi!

I’m Mairi Gibbs - Head of Operations, Oxford University Innovation  

A bit about my KE career…

I started out as a chemist and after my PhD I spent a few years in industry running a research team. I came into KE in 2002 looking for a way to use my science to do something useful that didn’t involve being in a lab. I’ve been in KE, always at OUI, ever since, and it’s been a fascinating and rewarding ride! I spent eight years in hands-on technology transfer, working with University researchers on IP and spinouts. Over time I gradually got more and more interested in figuring out how to make it all run smoothly. Now I lead our operational activities across the business and try to make it easy for my great colleagues to give their best. I still see lots of projects and provide advice behind the scenes on some of the more interesting challenges.

The world of KE is ever changing so it’s a good thing I like change management. There’s a lot of stakeholder management too, getting alignment is just as important within the institution as it is when working with external partners. It’s been brilliant to see the profile of KE increase over the years and to see university technologies playing a huge role in the pandemic response.

Something you might not know about me…

I’m a keen amateur violinist and my lockdown project through 2020 was to learn some music by Bach that I’d never mastered. He makes everything better. This music was written in 1720, three hundred years ago exactly, so as well as being a good project, it was a sort of anniversary celebration and a connecting thread through time to all the other musicians who also wrangled with those notes. Apart from music I love to hike and spend time with my family – my two sons are reliably loud, energetic, and very funny.

What I get out of teaching on PraxisAuril courses… 

It’s fun and rewarding to help build capacity in our sector. I get a real buzz out of the ‘lightbulb moment’ when you see someone understand something for the first time, and I always find it interesting to hear from delegates about how KE activities work at their institution.  Being involved in the training has also been really great for building relationships with colleagues at other institutions.

A little story about me…

One of the more rewarding moments of my career in KE was a sunny summer party for the employees of a company I’d spun out a few years earlier. It really brought home the impact of the role, seeing all those families supported by jobs that didn’t exist before the spinout. The company is still going strong and, through incredible hard work by those involved, bears no resemblance now to the fragile fledgeling that it was when I was originally involved with it. More recently I worked on Oxford’s equity framework and express licence, helping to implement Oxford’s investment partnership with OSI. These changes have enabled Oxford to spinout around 20 companies a year since OSI.

My courses: