Hi, I'm Iain!

I’m Dr Iain Thomas, RTTP - Head of Life Sciences at Cambridge Enterprise, University of Cambridge.

A bit about my KE career…
I gained a Ph.D. in sunnier climes (Sydney, Australia) before two very enjoyable postdocs, one in Oxford and one in Cambridge, during which I moved from organometallic chemistry to molecular biology.  I undertook an MBA before starting life in technology commercialisation.  I found myself in a job I enjoyed but a role I did not so when a maternity cover post was advertised in Cambridge I applied.  A fixed term contract became permanent and not long after I was heading the Life Science team.

Expectations of commercialising university research were changing fast but the tools to make this happen quickly beyond spin-out formation were not.  So, with colleagues at Imperial and UCL we built Apollo Therapeutics to overcome some challenges.  Apollo has provided lessons that my colleagues and I try to deploy more broadly as we search for and experiment with new and better ways to commercially liberate the outputs of researchers at Cambridge. 
Something you might not know about me… 
I am an ardent republican and advocate for proportional representation but sadly fear I shall see neither in my own lifetime, a life in which I enjoy climbing (trad of course), diving, the waves (with a board) and paragliding.  People are sometimes surprised to learn that I am a keen gardener; “too sedate” they say, but in the flat lands of East Anglia you have to do something, but I do hope to learn to kite surf on the North Norfolk coast as soon as lock down allows.  
What I get out of teaching on PraxisAuril courses…
KE in all its forms is hard.  Expectations can be unrealistic, and its value has not always been recognised.  This has sometimes left committed people without much support or context; training has helped provide that and, along with it, confidence.  I have had some wonderful unsolicited feedback from people who have been excited by their first spin-out, promotion or small victory within their institution.  I think that means PraxisAuril training did a good job.
A little story about me… 
Commercialising technology that could give rise to a new therapeutic has always been a challenge despite the history of so many drugs on the market lying in academia.  The traditional route has been through a spinout but even here the technology has to be sufficiently developed.  Indeed, translational funding exists but is commonly cumbersome and difficult to deploy effectively and efficiently.

Along with colleagues from Imperial and UCL, we created a new vehicle to tackle the problem of generating, funding and executing high quality drug development projects with the right expertise.  To that end we founded Apollo Therapeutics with three pharmaceutical partners (AstraZeneca, GSK and Johnson and Johnson) with £40m funding.  It is run by an expert industrial team and, whilst funding some work within each university, outsources most of each project under tight management.  The model challenged the status quo and but we persevered.  Apollo goes from strength to strength.
My courses:
My PraxisAuril Content:

Leadership in Knowledge Exchange Interview, with Simon Haslam and Maxine Ficarra

PraxisAuril Chair Welcomes 2021