Q1 2019 Mentor Programme UPDATE

The PraxisAuril Mentor Programme is a 10-week plan connecting Knowledge Exchange Mentors and Mentees. As our first 2019 programme comes to a close this week, it is a fantastic opportunity to look at feedback from this hugely successful initiative and also thank our very generous Mentors for their time and support.


Firstly, we would like to thank our Programme One Mentors

Clare Avery, Business Development Manager
Cass Business School, City University of London

Clare leads the knowledge exchange activities at Cass Business School at City. This includes supporting start-up creation, negotiating contracts for, and managing, commissioned research projects, securing and commercialising IP as well as running Cass Consulting, Cass’s vehicle for consultancy activities. The role is always demanding and always fascinating. It involves working with academics from disciplines such as Banking and Finance, Operations Management, Actuarial Science, Insurance, Marketing and Economics as well as Government departments, charities and a wide range of businesses large and small. With a focus on the social sciences, Clare has held a variety research and knowledge exchange roles, including at Essex and Cranfield universities, and is an experienced leader and negotiator. An enthusiast for KE Clare is also a member of Angel Academe Business Angels’ group.


Tony Hickson, Chief Business Officer
Cancer Research UK

Tony 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. 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.


Angela Kukula, Director of Enterprise
Institute of Cancer Research London

The Enterprise Unit manages all intellectual property and commercial issues at The Institute including arranging collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, negotiating clinical trial agreements, patenting, licensing and the formation of spin-out companies. Angela has managed portfolios of over 100 patent families and has concluded a large number of licensing and commercialisation deals. She has also been instrumental in the establishment of several spin-out companies. She regularly lectures on innovation and intellectual property matters and sits on a number of national and international research and exploitation bodies. Angela is the Immediate Past Chair and current PraxisAuril Board member.


Angus Lauder, Associate Director
CRUK Commercial Partnerships

Angus graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a BSc(Hons) degree in molecular biology before a PhD at the Institute of Cancer Research In London followed by post-doctoral research at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Since leaving academia Angus built a depth of experience in oncology drug discovery managing drug discovery alliances with major pharma partners such as AstraZeneca, and accumulated more than 14 years of business development and deal experience working in the Commercial Partnerships team at Cancer Research UK (CRUK). He is now Associate Director of Business Development & Transactions and manages a team of business development managers. During his career, Angus led the completion of a large number of IP licenses, spin-out company deals and negotiated some of the highest value drug discovery alliances. His role has also generated in-depth experience of technology transfer skills such as technology review and due diligence, intellectual property protection, marketing, valuation modelling and legal contract drafting.

“Over the years I have benefited from many people advising/helping me develop and now that I have reached a more senior stage in my career, I’d like to offer my experience to the tech transfer community more. Some of the most rewarding successes in my career to date have been from helping some of our staff develop and seeing them put the learnings into practice and becoming fully fledged TT professionals. On a personal level, becoming more engaged in the wider UK TT community is one of my goals and assisting PraxisAuril is a great way to meet TT professionals beyond those you interact with naturally in your role."


Katherine Roycroft, Research and Impact Manager
Manchester Metropolitan University

Katherine has worked in both the Faculties of Education and Business/Law for over 10 years at Manchester Met and has extensive experience of public engagement, KE, impact for REF and beyond and funding development/ideas

“Over recent years my role has increasingly grown and become more diverse as more academics and external partners begin to appreciate and value the importance of impact and how, thinking about it creatively, can help shape their research design from the outset. I love working across different disciplines and university teams exchanging expertise, ideas and good practice with them all. I would love to share this knowledge with external colleagues too and hopefully give them the confidence to try out innovative ways of thinking about, and planning, for impact.

Although I am based primarily in the Faculty of Business and Law, my role has an inter-disciplinary shape to it so I can share my experience of working across different faculties which enables me to make those important links and connections. I also work very closely with the University PR and marketing teams and building these relationships has helped me understand the best ways to promote and “shout out” about what we do outside the university. I have designed and devised lots of public engagement events so think I have some innovative ideas and tips around how to engage with stakeholders, policymakers and communities etc.”


Mark Gray, Pro Vice-Chancellor & Director of Knowledge Transfer
Middlesex University

A senior manager in HE since 1997, Mark has led the development of knowledge transfer/knowledge exchange (from CPD and consulting to spin-out/licensing) in a variety of universities for many years. He has extensive experience of educational project and programme leadership, business development and management in commercialisation, university reach out, vocational professional education and strategy consulting in higher education in the UK and overseas (Africa, Asia, Europe, FSU, Latin America, Middle East/GCC).

Mark also has experience as a non-executive director or trustee of several companies and trusts, commercial and n-f-p organisations in a variety of sectors. Public economics and industrial microeconomics specialism (PhD, university lecturer, research director etc.), along with government and private sector roles, featured in an earlier part of his career.

“I think that the profession has to be pro-active in generating a sense of what KE/KT/TT work is and what it requires across the sector. We are obligated to support not just new entrants to our own units in our own HEIs, but to support new entrants to the profession so as to generate an understanding of the skill range required in the field. I have mentored before and found the role stimulating: I learned from an alternative and very different context, my mentee learned from an experienced hand (worked in KT as an academic and professional services lead since 1986) about fresh ways to think about what she wanted to do in her KT office.”


Iain Thomas, 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, biofuels, IVF, epigenetics and agritech. CE’s portfolio of products includes alemtuzumab (Sanofi), breast cancer markers (Brevagen) and mouse touch screen chambers (Campden Instruments).  Recent spin-outs include Morphogenix, Mission Therapeutics, Cambridge Epigenetix, XO1 Therapeutics (sold to Janssen), Z-factor, Phoremost, 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 Course Director and Trainer for PraxisAuril Courses since 2004, is former Chair of PraxisAuril Professional Development Committee and current PraxisAuril Board Member.


Cengiz Tarhan, Director
Tarhan Associates

Having spent over 25 years in technology commercialisation primarily in the University technology transfer sector, Cengiz has a keen interest in establishing areas where there may be problems or issues to address and help to resolve them. Growing UCL Business from a small organisation to be one of the most successful and prominent Technology Transfer organisations in the UK has generated a massive amount of experience that he is happy to share.

“I have been reasonably active in PraxisAuril but probably more in the past. Having retired from UCLB after 25 years I now have a bit more time hence participating in the mentoring scheme. There is little in 'Knowledge Exchange' I have not experienced or participated in over those years. Whilst these days UCLB is very focussed on technology commercialisation, we had the opportunity to experiment with many KE initiatives including consultancies (now operating independently of UCLB as UCLC), managing clinical trials and research collaborations as well as business outreach. However, over those years my own interest (which is why I started in this business), was always identifying new ideas, investing in them by protecting the intellectual property and then working with the inventors to develop it as far as we could within the university before commercialising. We successfully did that over and over again, working with many researchers, founders, collaborators and investors. Some projects have also failed. That is the nature of this activity. However, every failure is a lesson and we learnt. Successful technology commercialisation is not easy, it is also not necessarily in our hands to deliver the end product, we rely on partners, collaborators and investors to do the job after we've played our part. We need to give it the best chance of success hence the need for all those involved to understand the role they play and by working together to ensure we can continue to deliver new treatments, products and services to benefit people, the UK and humanity in its widest sense.”


Gillian Davis, Commercialisation Director
Cambridge Enterprise

Gillian joined the Technology Transfer organisation of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge Enterprise Limited, in 2009. She has extensive experience of working with researchers in the Physical Sciences space helping them develop their ideas into opportunities that are attractive to industry and investors. 

She holds a BA in Natural Sciences from Oxford University and a doctorate in laser applications. Having spent ten years as an R&D engineer, she moved into hi-tech business development in 1997, obtaining an MBA with the Open University in 1998. After running the subsidiary of the US company Noise Cancellation Technologies for ten years, she took up the post of Commercial Director at Dolomite Microfluidics in 2007.

“I enjoy helping new team members at Cambridge Enterprise develop skills as technology transfer professionals and would welcome the opportunity of mentoring others in the wider TT community. Having myself worked in academia and industry, as a researcher, inventor, business developer and managing director as well as 10 years in TT, I have a lot of experience to draw upon and share. For example, the importance of devoting time to helping researchers develop a commercialisation mindset so that they are able to make the best use of the support available from a TTO. How to develop and implement an appropriate commercialisation strategy to effectively translate a particular piece of research into a commercial opportunity attractive to a commercial organisation or investors.”

As well as mentoring, Gillian is an active Trainer on PraxisAuril Training Courses.


Jess Hurrell, Impact and Partnership Development Manager - Government, Crime, Justice and Law
University of Exeter

Jess works in the Impact Innovation and Business team at the University of Exeter. Her area of specialism is government, law, justice and crime. Jess also manages the relationship the University has with IBM.

“I have been at Exeter now for nearly 13 years, working for Sean Fielding for that time.  My roles have always faced externally and I now support colleagues and new members of the team.  For the last 6 years, I have relationship managed some of our largest accounts and I am pretty good at it.  It is difficult to explain to the outside world the inner machinations of Higher Education, much less how that works with Business but it does and it can work brilliantly well.”


Govind Pindoria, Director of Venture Support Unit
Imperial Innovations Ltd

Govind is responsible for the Start-up formation support and investment at Imperial College London. The Start-Up team is responsible for all aspects of the development and funding of new staff spin-outs from Imperial and managing the growing start-up portfolio.  Prior to IWCI he was Executive Director at Imperial Innovations Ltd and led the formation of over 50 companies, serving on the boards of many and leading the sale of seven Imperial start-ups to companies like Google, Evonik and Oxford University Press. Prior to Innovations, Govind was the European Director of Technology for a US semiconductor equipment company (Novellus Systems) where he led a team based around Europe responsible for the introduction of new technology. In his early career, Govind was a scientist at the Cavendish labs in Cambridge University and in Japan. Govind has a BSc in Chemical Physics from the University of Sussex, PhD in Semiconductor Physics from the University of Warwick and an MBA from Imperial College business school.


Programme Feedback

“I have got more out of mentoring so far than I thought I would, and we’ve only had three sessions! I will probably stay in touch with my mentee as chatting to her has given us both fresh perspective.”  

“Took a while to work out what the mentee needed but seem to be getting there now – takes a couple of meetings to pin it down.” 

“It’s been a very valuable experience for me as a mentor. Pleased to see that my experience can be useful and its always delightful to help others think through challenges – and we both grow as a result.” 

“Still only half way through but as the mentor I am finding it interesting/and rewarding in terms of giving something back which hopefully the mentee agrees is useful.” 

“I find it interesting hearing viewpoints from different parts of the TT landscape and helping them along their journey is very rewarding. 10 (perhaps 12) weeks is a well defined period of time and focuses the minds of both to set up an effective partnership.  Mentoring can fill whatever time you want to give it and it may be that in some case further conversation would help the Mentee, but I deal with that by leaving it open to them to reach out as and when they want further advice.  So, keeping a fixed period and then allowing the parties to sort out what they want I post that is probably the best of both worlds. Yes, I’m happy, sign me up again.” 

“I think the idea that we cover just three things in 10 weeks should be presented that this is a tool if one has an over expectant mentee – we, however, will get through a mountain more. 10 weeks work – and I shall certainly be available for support post that but less formally and regularly.” 

“Talking for an hour by Skype once a week seems about the right frequency. If one of the parties has a holiday it is probably best not to try to have two sessions in one week since that feels excessive and less valuable. 10 weeks seems sufficient in my case, or perhaps more time than is really needed. If mentee feels they would like more mentoring from me in the future I’d be very happy to help, but probably the mentee needs time to implement outcomes of current mentoring.” 


Programme Two starts 8th April 2019 and we are looking for more mentors to get involved

More information on the programme can be found here, including mentor expectations and toolkits.

To get involved email georgina.wark@praxisauril.org.uk

There will be an opportunity for Mentors and Mentees across both programmes to reconnect with a facilitated session at our 2019 Annual Conference in Harrogate