Hi, I'm Rebeca!

I’m Dr Rebeca Santamaria-Fernandez - Director, Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation, Engineering – Enterprise at Imperial College London

A bit about my KE career…

My current role at Imperial involves managing a team of KE professionals at the interface between businesses and Imperial’s Engineering Academics. The Faculty of Engineering brings together 10 academic departments including traditional engineering disciplines as well as materials, computing and newly formed departments such as bioengineering and design engineering.  I find the depth and breadth of the research and technologies arising from these departments fascinating and I feel privileged to be able to work toward translating their research and technologies into the real world. 

Prior to joining Imperial in 2012, I spent two years as a Knowledge Exchange Manager at the Institute of Photonics Sciences in Spain (ICFO, Barcelona) and seven years in research and management roles in industry, first at Eurofins Scientific, a leading an international group of laboratories providing analytical testing services for food authenticity (yes wine and beer for example!) and then at LGC in London, an international life sciences measurement and testing company. During my time at industry, first as a researcher and then as an R&D manager, I became much more aware of what “translation” meant, seeing research in the lab being converted into products and services solving real issues. I am a scientist at heart and passionate about finding ways to accelerate impact, so I feel lucky to work on partnerships and tech transfer.

Something you might not know about me… 

What started as a student programme in 1987, the ERASMUS programme really changed my life in 1999. I left Spain “for 6 months” to do an MSc in Analytical Chemistry at Plymouth University as an ERASMUS student. One thing led to another and I stayed in Plymouth to do a PhD sponsored by BGS, then moved to France to work at Eurofins for a couple of years and eventually moved back to the UK. 22 years later, London is “home”. 

I come from a small town in Spain, in a beautiful and green paradise called Asturias. Kayaking in the many rivers Asturias has, running in the countryside and drinking Asturian cider(!) are all part of who I am. I go back there whenever I can to see family and friends and retrieve “my mountains”. My other half is French, and my daughter is born in London but she considers herself 1/3 each so our house is a true European hub and we all juggle English, Spanish and French best we can! We love travelling and the languages come in handy!

What I get out of teaching on PraxisAuril courses…

I truly enjoy meeting new KE professionals and sharing insights with peers. I currently co-direct the “Developing Strategic Partnerships” PraxisAuril course with Phil Elstob (Cambridge Enterprise) which is a great way to meet colleagues in the KE sector. It is a fantastic community, a talented and friendly bunch. I am inspired by every partnership, every licence and every start-up story. Behind each one of the stories there is a KE professional (or a team of) and I love listening to their (your!) journeys and seeing new creative modes of engagement being put into practice.

A little story about me… 

Every partnership and every licensing opportunity is different which keeps it really stimulating. Some of the relationships and deals I have supported and shaped over this time have become very important relationships to Imperial with partners such as Shell, Rolls Royce, ABB, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Petronas, Heartflow and Eli Lilly, both in terms of the research they enable but also the impact from the research and inventions arising from the programmes and centres, the recruitment of many of our graduates and the access to real challenges provided to our Academics. Since March 2019 my team also supports technology transfer and with that the assessment of engineering inventions. We have formed 13 start-ups since then and have completed a variety of licensing deals. It is an exciting journey!

When I joined Imperial in 2012, Shell was sponsoring a collaboration involving a couple of departments in Engineering. I worked with Academics at Imperial and with my counterpart at Shell to broaden the scope of our partnership to what it is today. The partnership now involves 300+ researchers on both sides, the (£35m+) portfolio spans 3 Faculties and 10 Departments and together we tackle issues such as materials integrity, energy storage solutions or more energy efficient fuels and lubricants’ formulations.  It is incredibly fulfilling to see what this partnership has achieved over time. A highlight for me is how we have built a truly diverse, multi-disciplinary and global partnership to tackle the energy transition.  

My courses: