Paula Alessandro is a solicitor at Queen Mary Innovation Ltd (QMI), the intellectual property commercialisation company of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). She joined QMI in 2016 after a successful career in investment banking during which time she also gained a MBA from Warwick Business School. As QMI’s lead counsel, Paula is responsible for all its legal affairs which includes advising on commercialising university research through various structures such as licensing and spin-out companies.
Paula has found that her extensive experience of structuring commercial and finance transactions and developing risk governance frameworks is directly translatable to the university sector. Cross-pollination of ideas from different industries can facilitate innovation. This is a benefit in an environment where investors in university research commercialisation deals seek transaction structures that balance risk with reward before committing funds. It is also key given the regulatory backdrop as the McMillan Report, recently commissioned by HEFCE, recommended that the University Technology Transfer sector strengthen its governance frameworks. Paula suggested a SIG to be able to discuss industry wide legal issues with other PraxisAuril members, this was welcomed and we were pleased to launch the group in November 2017.
Legal and Finance teams are a vital part of any research and enterprise (R&E) organisation. These functions may sit within a large R&E office or be part of a more centralised university function and some legal services, such as patent attorneys, will be accessed through external firms (many of which are PraxisAuril members).
Whilst institutional structures differ as they are designed to support local needs and preferences, the issues that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are likely to encounter are similar. Therefore, members can benefit from sharing ideas and experiences, seeking advice and networking to develop professional knowledge. This in turn can assist HEIs in contributing to the Government’s Industrial Strategy in order to leverage funding and feedback into PraxisAuril’s training and advocacy work.
Paula is leading and facilitating the Legal & Investor Forum (operated via JISC-mail, a model that works well for facilitating discussions in our Directors’ Forum). The aim is to offer a friendly and open space for discussion and debate, with a view to identifying hot-topics that might be addressed at conferences or smaller round-tables. There is likely to be potential for engaging with the Forum on specific issues, such as deal structures (both national and cross-border), but also using the knowledge of group members to educate external investors into our sector and support our advocacy activities including around the Industrial Strategy and research commercialisation.
If you are interested in joining the Forum please contact Nicky Warnock (email@example.com), Membership Programme Manager, PraxisAuril.