Category: Interview

Helen McBreen: Atlantic Bridge

Helen McBreen is a partner at Atlantic Bridge, overseeing the spinout-focused University Bridge Fund – backed by Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and University College Cork. She talks about the importance of diversity on both sides of the table and give us an insight into how the fund works with researchers for as long as 18 months before a spinout is formed. She also tells about the strengths of the Irish ecosystem and why, even though she’s just closed Fund II, it’s actually not too early to start thinking about Fund III.

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Sean Fielding: University of Exeter

Sean Fielding was, until a couple of weeks ago, the director of innovation, impact and business at University of Exeter, where he built the tech transfer office from scratch in the mid-90s. He joins us on Talking Tech Transfer to discuss how the requirement to generate impact has changed the way universities think about research and his dream of having tech transfer professionals be as celebrated as rockstars.

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Paul Van Dun: Leuven Research and Development

Paul Van Dun is the general manager of Leuven Research and Development, the tech transfer office of KU Leuven that has a unique framework which allows faculty to generate income for their labs without incorporating spinouts. He is here to tell us more about this as well as his vision of having universities ranked based on impact, what changes he has seen during his 20-year-long career and how one of his favourite spinouts helped revitalise the region’s historical strengths in bicycle production.

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Brijesh Roy: Imperial College London

Brijesh Roy, seed investment manager at Imperial College London, started out in hedge fund management before joining Oxford University Innovation and then Mercia. On this episode, he talks about his storied career, why Imperial decided to bring spinout funding back in-house following the Touchstone acquisition and what his vision for a tech transfer operation fit for the 21st century looks like.

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Michael Kearney: The Engine

Michael Kearney is a principal at The Engine, the tough tech incubator and patient capital fund backed by MIT and Harvard, and he joins us to talk not only about the importance of hiring diverse teams (in spinouts and in funds), but also about the highly unique ecosystem in Cambridge, MA and the reasons why the journey of a deep tech founder is fundamentally different. He also tells us why his own experience working for a tough tech spinout prompted him to return to academia to gain a PhD from MIT looking at barriers to commercialisation and ultimately become an investor at The Engine (which he had never planned to be).

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Jason Whitney: IU Ventures, IU Angel Network

Jason Whitney, vice-president of venture development at IU Ventures and executive director of the IU Angel Network, joins us to talk about the Angel Network, why it takes care of due diligence for investors and why it emphasises educating angels. He also discusses the origins and purpose of the Sports Innovation Initiative, which focuses on startups in areas as broad as apparel and esports, and reveals how an opera singer proved to him you should never go into a meeting with a preconceived notion about a founder’s idea.

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Sara Wallin: Chalmers Ventures

Sara Wallin is the relatively new chief executive of Chalmers Ventures, having only joined the incubator and venture arm of Chalmers University of Technology in December 2020. But she brought with her a wealth of experience and on this episode of Talking Tech Transfer she tells us why she took the job at Chalmers, and explains the importance of requiring portfolio companies to pursue one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and pushing startups to hire women to their boards. She also reveals what others can learn from the UBI Global-ranked number one university incubator in the Nordics.

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Markus Wanko: Institute of Science and Technology Austria

Markus Wanko is the head of technology transfer at Institute of Science and Technology Austria and the founder and managing partner of its venture fund, IST cube. He joins us on Talking Tech Transfer to talk about why he moved into tech transfer after a career working for Qatar Investment Authority, Boston Consulting Group and others, why it was important to become a director of AUTM and what opportunities and challenges a country like Austria faces when it comes to commercialisation.

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Adam Stoten: Oxford University Innovation

We chat with Adam Stoten, the chief operating officer of Oxford University Innovation, about vaccines – not just for covid but also one for tuberculosis he helped develop at a spinout – as well as the importance of REF, KEF and the Knowledge Exchange Concordat, and the success of LAB282. He also exclusively reveals what is next for him personally.

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Matt Perkins: Oxford University Innovation

Matt Perkins has been the chief executive of Oxford University Innovation for just under five years and he joins us to talk not only about why he moved from industry into academia but also about how OUI set up programmes to support diverse founding teams, the impact of Oxford Sciences Innovation on the local ecosystem and the increasing importance of social enterprises as well as why, once the pandemic is over, there won’t just be a rush back to the office.

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