Our Board

Ajay Chowdhury - Board Chairman

Ajay has 25 years' start-up venture experience, building disruptive new digital businesses in a wide range of industries. He has particular expertise in mobile, e-commerce, digital media, data analytics, digital retail and government. He also has strong functional expertise in sales, strategy development, product development and fund raising. Selected to be part of the Asian Power 100 - the 100 most influential and powerful Asians in the UK - Ajay won Dealmaker of the Year 2015 award from M&A Magazine, is one of the Top 100 Asian tech stars and was selected as one of 2016's Sunday Times top 100 BAME business leaders in the UK.

Ajay is currently a Partner and Managing Director at BCG Digital Ventures. Prior to this, he was CEO of Seatwave, a European online ticketing marketplace that was sold to Ticketmaster. Before that, he was CEO of ComQi, a global omni-channel retail technology company before which he co-founded IDG Ventures Europe (IDGVE), a $100m European venture capital fund. At IDGVE he was the founder investor and Chairman of Shazam, a $1bn mobile audio recognition company and also invested in and served on the board of Lionhead, a games developer which was sold to Microsoft.

Prior to IDGVE, he was CEO of LineOne – a joint venture between United News and Media and British Telecom – which he grew into one of the UK’s largest portals and ISP’s. At UNM Ajay was founder and Managing Director of its internet division, before which he was a manager at Bain & Company.

Ajay has an MBA from Wharton and serves on the board of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Significant Roles

  • Partner and Managing Director, BCG Digital Ventures
  • Board member, Department of Culture, Media and Sport
  • Board member, Historic Royal Palaces
  • Board member, Arts Council, London
  • CEO of Seatwave
  • CEO of ComQi, a global omni-channel retail technology company. Ran a JV in China putting digital media into 100 CapitaL and Malls
  • Co-founded IDG Ventures Europe
  • CEO of LineOne
  • European President and CEO of NBC internet
  • MD New Media, United Business media
  • Manager Bain & Co
  • Non-Executive Director FairFX PLC – mobile foreign exchange provider
Ajay Chowdhury Board Chairman

Dr Tony Raven - Chief Executive

Cambridge Enterprise’s role is to support University staff and students in creating world-class societal benefit through commercialisation of their world-leading research and scholarship. Tony’s aspiration for Cambridge Enterprise is to 'have fun and make a difference' supporting the full breadth of opportunities across the campus, from archaeology to zoology, with an ambition worthy of a university of Cambridge’s international standing.

This strategy has resulted in tremendous growth for Cambridge Enterprise; since 2011, its venture funding capacity has grown by 730%, the number of spin-outs created has gone up by 250%, and its consultancy support service has increased by 90%. Today, Cambridge Enterprise is one of the most successful offices internationally.  Compared to its international peers, it generates more licences per £/$ of research funding and at the lowest cost per licence, while Cambridge University spin-outs have raised the largest amount of investment in total over the past five years.

Starting in academia and before coming back into academia, Tony had a long history as a successful technology entrepreneur. The companies he has founded include Summit Technology, the pioneer of laser refractive surgery, which was acquired by Nestle Alcon in 2000 for $893 million; publicly-quoted Cambridge technology consultancy Sagentia plc; and Diomed Inc, a pioneer of surgical diode lasers which was listed in the US in 2002 before being acquired by a Angiodynamics Inc in 2008.

Tony is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and a Member of the Institute of Directors. He joined Cambridge Enterprise as CEO in December 2011.


Tony Raven December 18

Dr Paul Seabright - Deputy Director

Paul is Deputy Director of Cambridge Enterprise. He is responsible for implementing a five year strategy that aims to enhance our customer service so that we can help more academics, researchers, companies and investors to create a positive impact on society. A cornerstone of the strategy is the introduction of a new IT system that will enable customers to access data as well as driving greater efficiency within the business.

Paul was previously Head of Consultancy Services for six years, during which period he doubled the team’s turnover. He is a Board member and Director of three University of Cambridge subsidiary companies: Cambridge Enterprise Limited, Cambridge University Technical Services (CUTS) Limited and Institute for Manufacturing Education and Consultancy Services Limited.

Paul has considerable experience of technology transfer in both the biotech and medtech sectors. He was previously Head of Business Development at Health Enterprise East, where he was instrumental in building a successful technology transfer and consultancy organisation for the NHS. Before that, he was a Technology Manager at Cambridge Enterprise for more than three years and led its Life Sciences team. Paul also spent five years as a Senior Scientist with a Cambridge biotech company that had spun out of the University, helping it to develop its medtech business.

Paul has a degree in Biochemistry and a PhD in Chemistry from Manchester. After his PhD, he became a post-doctoral researcher for the Medical Research Council and then later for the University of Cambridge.

Paul first joined Cambridge Enterprise in 2001 and returned after he completed his time with Health Enterprise East in 2009.

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Professor Andy Neely OBE - University Non-Executive Director

Professor Andy Neely is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge.

He is a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, former Head of the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) and Founding Director of the Cambridge Service Alliance. He is widely recognised for his work on the servitisation of manufacturing, as well as his work on performance measurement and management.

Previously, Professor Neely has held appointments at Cranfield University, London Business School, Cambridge University, where he was a Fellow of Churchill College, and Nottingham University, where he completed his PhD, and British Aerospace. He was Deputy Director of AIM Research – the UK’s management research initiative – from 2003 until 2012, he was elected a Fellow of Social Science in 2008 and was a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2018. He was awarded an OBE in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list.


Anthony Odgers - University Non-Executive Director

As the University’s Chief Financial Officer, Anthony Odgers has oversight of all the institution’s assets, including Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Assessment, the Cambridge University Endowment Fund and the University’s technology transfer through Cambridge Enterprise. He also plays a leading role in developing new and existing areas of commercial activity, as well as the University’s long term strategic and financial plan.

For the past six years Mr Odgers, who is an alumnus of Gonville & Caius College, has held a senior position in the oversight and management of the UK Government’s corporate and financial holdings and investments, playing a key role in the Government’s position as a shareholder in a number of its assets as well as in its commercial dealings with large companies and investors.

Prior to that, Mr Odgers had a 20-year career in investment banking spanning project finance, mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and corporate restructuring. This culminated in the role of Global Co-head of the Restructuring Advisory Group at Deutsche Bank – helping the bank’s clients manage the fallout of the financial crisis.

Anthony Odgers

Professor Russell Cowburn - Professor of Experimental Physics, University of Cambridge

Professor Russell Cowburn has research interests in nanotechnology and its application to magnetism, electronics and optics. 

Before returning to Cambridge in 2010, Professor Cowburn held positions at the CNRS Paris, University of Durham and Imperial College London. He is the founder of two start-up companies and the inventor of the anti-counterfeiting technology ‘Laser Surface Authentication’. 

Professor Cowburn has had over 60 patents granted and is a frequent invited speaker at international conferences. He is the winner of the 2003 GSK Westminster Medal and Prize, the 2006 Degussa Science to Business Award, the 2007 Hermes International Technology Award and the 2008 Institute of Physics Paterson Medal and Prize. In 2009 his research was recognised by the European Union with the award of a 2.8 million Euros ERC Advanced Investigator Grant. 

Professor Russell Cowburn

Professor Patrick Maxwell - Academic Non-Executive Director

Professor Patrick Maxwell is a clinician scientist and in 2012 was appointed Regius Professor of Physic and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine at Cambridge.  

Professor Maxwell has been centrally involved in a series of discoveries that have revealed how changes in oxygenation are sensed, and how genetic alterations cause kidney disease.  He currently holds a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award and is an NIHR Senior Investigator Emeritus.  He has a research group in the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research. 

Professor Maxwell is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Academy of Medical Sciences as well as a Non-Executive Director of Cambridge University Hospitals and Director of Cambridge University Health Partners and Scottish Mortgage. He is a Scientific Founder and Director of ReOx plc (University of Oxford spinout). 

Professor Patrick Maxwell

Professor Anna Vignoles CBE - Academic Non-Executive Director

Professor Anna Vignoles is Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge. She has published widely on widening participation in higher education, social mobility, the impact of school resources on pupil achievement and on the socio-economic gap in pupil achievement. Her research interests include issues pertaining to equity in education, school choice, school efficiency and finance and the economic value of schooling. 

Professor Vignoles has advised numerous government departments, including the Department for Education, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and HM Treasury. She provided advice to the Browne Review of Higher Education Funding, the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee investigation of higher education funding, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee, as part of their inquiry into education and training opportunities for young people, and Lord Leitchs Review of Skills. 

Professor Vignoles is an Associate Editor for The Cambridge Journal of Education and Education Economics a member of the ESRC Research Committee and chaired the steering group for the ESRC Longitudinal Studies Review.  

Professor Vignoles was awarded the British Education Research Journal Editor’s Choice award in 2015 and a CBE in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to social science.


Anna Vignoles

Charles Cotton - External Non-Executive Director

Charles Cotton is Founder and Chairman of Cambridge Phenomenon International Ltd. He co-authored The Cambridge Phenomenon 50 Years of Innovation and Enterprise and The Cambridge Phenomenon: Global Impact.

Mr Cotton is Director of Solarflare Inc.; XMOS Ltd; Cambridge Enterprise and is a member of its Investment Committees; Chairman of the Advisory Panel of Cambridge Innovation Capital; Deputy Chairman of Cambridge Ahead; a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Sharjah; and chairs the Advisory Panel for CUER (Cambridge University ECO Racing).

Previously Mr Cotton was a Supervisory Board member of Euronext Amsterdam listed, Tele Atlas which was sold to TomTom for $4.3Bn in 2008; Executive Chairman of NASDAQ listed, GlobespanVirata Inc.; and CEO of Virata Corp. which he took public on NASDAQ in 1999 and achieved a market cap of more than $5Bn at its peak.

Prior to that he was President of Thermal Scientific Inc, and a Director of London Stock Exchange listed Thermal Scientific Ltd. His engagement in high technology dates back to 1983 when he was Sales and Marketing Director at Sinclair Research Ltd. After graduating, he worked in the automotive industry at British Leyland and Ford.

Charles holds a BA Hons in Physics from Oxford University and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.




Charles Cotton

Annalisa Gigante - External Non-Executive Director

Annalisa Gigante has been an award winning innovator for 30 years, with a track record of commercial success, launching and building multi-billion new businesses across different industries from life sciences and chemicals to services and digital technologies.

She served as CTO of LafargeHolcim, and was an Executive Committee member at Adecco Group as Chief Business Development and Marketing Officer, both global leaders in their respective industries.

Annalisa started her career in consulting at Bain & Co in the consumer and retail practice. Her executive career includes international roles in innovation, business management, strategy and marketing for Monsanto, Manpower and Royal DSM. Her key focus areas are sustainability, digital technologies including AI and IoT, new business models, and building high performing teams. She has been the subject of two Masters’ theses on women top executives, and a recent monograph on Innomaniacs.

Annalisa is an advisor and conference speaker on innovation, leadership and corporate governance. She is Chair of Foundations for Learning, co-Chair of Women Corporate Directors in Switzerland, as well as Non-Executive Director at Katalyst Networks (USA) and RemCo member at Jagex, the Cambridge-based games studio.

She is Italian, and an alumnus of Queens’ in Natural Sciences (bio), with an MBA from Bocconi.

Annalisa Gigante

Dr Jane Osbourn OBE - External Non-Executive Director

Jane is Chair of the Cambridge-based cell therapy company Mogrify and Chief Scientific Officer for Alchemab Therapeutics which is focused on identifying self-protective antibodies as therapies for neurodegeneration and oncology.

Jane was an early employee of Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT), which became MedImmune, the biologics arm of AstraZeneca, where she contributed to the development of phage display technology, authored many key publications and patents and contributed to the discovery and development of eight marketed drugs.

Jane is passionate about the development of the biotechnology sector and served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the UK BioIndustry Association from 2015-2019.  She is a Director of Babraham Bioscience Technologies, a Director of Cambridge Enterprise, previously served as a Member of the UK Medical Research Council Industry Grant Award Assessment Panel and is a member of the Crick Translational Advisory Group.

In 2019, Jane was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for services to drug discovery, development and biotechnology, and was also awarded the Scrip Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to the pharma industry.


Debu Purkayastha - External Non-Executive Director

Debu Purkayastha is the Managing Partner at 3rd Eye, a Venture Capital and Private Equity firm investing globally in the technology, media and telecoms sectors.

Mr Purkayastha was formerly the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Octopus Investments, a global investment firm focusing on early stage technology venture capital investments.

Previously, he spent six years with Google, spearheading their global mergers & acquisitions, and investment efforts, which included several landmark acquisitions in the US and Europe. Prior to Google, he headed Sabre’s Corporate Development team and was an M&A banker with Salomon Smith Barney/Citigroup in Wall Street, Silicon Valley and London.

Mr Purkayastha is a founding member of Google ‘Campus’, a co-working space for start-ups in London – an initiative that led to the formation of the ‘Google for Entrepreneurs’ program.

Sitting on the boards of MercyCorps (global NGO) and Tadaweb (Cyber), he also sits on the advisory boards of London Business School, Sadara Ventures and Tech London Advocates. Previous board directorships or advisory boards include Veon, DataFlow, Fon, Mobile Planet, Reevoo and HTL/Scandic Hotels, amongst others. Additionally, Debu is a Senior Advisor to EQT (global PE firm).

Mr Purkayastha spends much of his personal time working with leading NGOs and governmental institutions in several politically-sensitive conflict zones including Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Kashmir, focusing on economic development initiatives aimed primarily at helping fund and build small businesses.

Mr Purkayastha has a MBA from London Business School and is a Chartered Accountant.

Debu Purkayastha

Tony Hickson - Advisor

Tony Hickson is the Chief Business Officer for Cancer Research UK. He 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 joining CRUK, Mr Hickson 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. 

Mr Hickson has sat on the Executive Committee of IP Group and spent five 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. Prior to joining Imperial Innovations, he had 15 years of commercial and business development experience in bioscience companies including Wellcome Group R&D, Murex Biotech, Abbott Laboratories and Kalibrant Limited.  

Mr Hickson has acted as a board director or observer for a number of start-up companies, including Polytherics (now Abzena), Catapult Therapy TCR, Zihipp and Precision Robotics, and was instrumental in the creation and development of companies such as Thiakis (sold to Wyeth/Pfizer in 2008), Respivert (sold to J&J in 2010), Circassia (listed on LSE in 2014), EMcision (sold to Boston Scientific in 2018) and Cell Medica (in advanced clinical studies).

Mr Hickson has sat on the IP boards of two European Institutes of Technology, 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. 

Tony Hickson

Lesley Millar-Nicholson - Advisor

Lesley Millar-Nicholson has been the Director of MIT Technology Licensing Office (TLO) since July 2016. She leads a team of professional staff managing the intellectual assets and technology transfer process for MIT’s inventions. 

Located in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the TLO is responsible for engagement with faculty, staff and students and for the efficient and effective transfer of IP into the marketplace to ensure impact on society. Working with MIT start-up companies, VCs and corporate partners, the team manages over 800 new inventions a year from the MIT and Lincoln Lab campuses.  

The MIT portfolio includes over 10,000 issued and pending US and foreign patents and over 1,000 active licenses. The TLO is an integral part of the MIT innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem, working closely with its many programs and centres established to harness the amazing innovations from MIT faculty, students, and staff.   

Prior to arriving at MIT, Ms Millar-Nicholson served for ten years as Director of the Office of Technology Management (OTM) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a past President of the Board of Governors of Certified Licensing Professionals Inc (CLP Inc.) and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Licensing Executive Society (LES). A native of Scotland, she has a BEd, MEd, and MBA, and is a Certified Licensing Professional.  

Lesley Millar-Nicholson

Emma Rampton - Company Secretary

Emma Rampton is the Acting Registrary at the University of Cambridge. She joined Cambridge in 2015 as Academic Secretary and was appointed Acting Registrary from 1 January 2017 following the retirement of Jonathan Nicholls.

Before Cambridge, Ms Rampton worked at the University of Oxford. She was there for over ten years, first as the Head of Administration in the Faculty of Law and latterly as Deputy University Secretary, a role in which she had responsibility for overseeing the University’s governance, compliance and assurance processes.  Ms Rampton graduated from St John’s College, Oxford, after which she qualified as a lawyer.


Image: University shield, courtesy the University of Cambridge.