Head of Company Creation (open-ended contract)

Newcastle University is world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success. 

The Role 

You will head up a small team managing the initiation, formation, approval, launch and funding of new, high quality spin-out companies and joint ventures. The team also monitors and reports on the performance of the university’s existing spin-out portfolio, protecting the university’s interests therein. 

You will work closely with Faculty Business Development and Enterprise teams to establish the optimum method of transferring research results into commercial use. Where this is determined to be by creation of a new company, you will head up a small project team to implement a viable commercial management solution (typically an external Chief Executive (CEO)); deliver strong business plans and investible propositions; obtain internal approvals; and assist in the provision of early stage funding. 

You will be the Newcastle University lead on a range of pan-university company creation projects, such as Northern Accelerator. 

This is a specialist commercial role requiring significant prior experience of senior management, preferably CEO, roles in small or medium sized enterprises (SME’s), ideally spin-outs or start-ups. A professional business qualification, typically either MBA or a professional accountancy qualification, is a requirement. 

We would welcome informal enquiries about this post to Martin Cox, Director of Business Development and Enterprise at martin.cox@ncl.ac.uk
Interviews will take place 15th March 2021

Key Accountabilities 

  • Lead the development of compelling propositions for commercial ventures which are believed to have high growth potential.  This will involve working with Faculty Business Development teams to establish the optimum commercialisation route for a particular invention or piece of Intellectual Property.
  • Where the identified commercialisation route is through spin-out company formation, provide guidance to and work with Faculty teams and academic founder(s) of the prospective spin-out companies to identify and introduce an effective management team, develop business models, help prepare and analyse business plans and investment memoranda and guide the new venture through the university spin-out approval process. This will also include giving guidance and mentoring to potential founder academics regarding the potential and prospective pitfalls of involvement in a spin-out company.
  • Maintain a detailed understanding of all legal, ethical, political and commercial issues surrounding the arena of spin-out companies and commercial ventures.
  • Keep fully abreast of developments in spin-out companies in the UK and beyond. Develop, build and maintain an extensive external commercial network of senior advisers, investors, consultants, experienced managers. Most critically establish and sustain an effective, high quality pool of potential Chief Executive Officers and other senior executives for prospective leadership roles in spin-outs. Work closely with other similar (Russell Group) universities in terms of sharing best commercialisation (spin-out) practice and exploring areas of potential collaboration.
  • Develop and maintain wide-ranging relationships with intermediary bodies, investors and commercial organisations – in particular venture funding bodies.  Develop and maintain a close working relationship with other members of the BDE team and relevant Faculty and University Deans and University Executive Board members in order to provide an effective source of advice and guidance and to expedite commercial developments once sanctioned by the Faculties.
  • Once a spin-out opportunity has been identified within a Faculty, take specific responsibility for guidance of the opportunity through the University’s internal ‘IP and Spin-Out Committee’ approval process. This will include, inter-alia, delivery to the Committee, of:

                1. A viable management solution

               2. A robust and viable business plan

                3. An IP / freedom to operate statement
                4. An equity split proposal
                5. A realistic and adequate funding requirement
                6. An approved statement of academic founder involvement in the spin-out.
                7. A note of any other special matters / terms.

  • Continuously look to improve Newcastle University’s performance in terms of the quality and trading success of its spin-out portfolio. Attempt to ensure that achievement of the objective of increasing the number of spin-out companies created is not at the expense of quality or of failure to adhere to the principles contained in Newcastle University’s IP policy.
  • Act for the university, in collaboration with internal and external legal teams, within the parameters agreed for the formation of the venture established by the IP and Spin-Out Committee, to negotiate legal contracts necessary to take the company forward.  Such contracts to include Heads of Terms; Memorandum and Articles of Association; employment and consultancy contracts; Shareholder’s Agreements; Joint Venture Agreements; Intellectual Property Licences and other similar documents.
  • Be available to spin-out companies as a representative of Newcastle University (as a shareholder) in the interests of both the spin-out company and University shareholding. Using in-depth business knowledge, advise the new venture on the options for financing in terms of debt, equity, revenue etc.
  • Head up and / or be Newcastle University lead on all pan-university projects in the company creation field. This currently includes the 2 Northern Accelerator programmes (ERDF and HEFCE) and venture capital fund creation.
  • As a member of the Business Development and Enterprise Executive team contribute more broadly to the development of the strategic direction of the University’s commercialisation activities in their widest sense.

The Person (Essential)

Knowledge, Skills and Experience 

  • Substantial project and new technology venture management experience, a significant amount of which will have been gained at a senior level. Including substantial experience of contract negotiating and delivery of complex projects involving multiple stakeholders.
  • Substantial experience and technical knowledge of the development of financially sound business plans, management of intellectual property issues, complex marketing strategies for new technologies and legal issues / regulatory environment pertinent to effective IP commercialisation.
  • Substantial knowledge of effective commercialisation strategies including licensing and spin-out (including equity based transactions and company structures).
  • Proven successful experience of management roles within newly formed start-up companies and / or SMEs (Desirable)
  • Experience of legal issues in the creation of new companies (Desirable) 

Attributes and Behaviour 

  • Tact and diplomacy when dealing with sensitive and confidential information, and ability to work well under pressure
  • Ability to work largely under own initiative to a strategy agreed with the Director of Business Development and Enterprise, with little direct supervision, in devising and implementing the  business development strategy relating to spin-outs and in identifying new business opportunities. This will involve projects and activities months and years in advance of their realisation and managing complex project plans with challenging timelines and milestones.
  • The ability to work at the most senior level work with representatives of banks, finance advisers, lawyers, corporate representatives (large and small), investors, and relevant public organisations. Maintain close relations with other similar universities to share best practice and identify and develop opportunities for commercialisation collaborations. 
  • The ability to manage a small highly-focussed and professional team in a wider, complex organisation


  • An MBA, internationally recognised accountancy qualification or equivalent postgraduate management qualification or significant experience at a similar level 


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains staff from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.


Requisition ID: 5730

Closing date: 
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Originating organisation: