Actions speak louder than words in research commercialisation

by Dr Olivia Nicoletti

When I joined Cambridge Enterprise (CE) in 2015 I was coming from a year in buzzy London working as an editor for a leading scientific publishing group. It was an exciting position where I was exposed to the latest and coolest science, at a place where the next hot and fashionable topics in research emerge.

You might wonder why I decided to quit such an interesting role after only a year, move back to bucolic Cambridge and start working in the very different field of Technology Transfer. Many factors played a role in this decision, but the main fact was that I wanted my work to have a more immediate impact on society.

Scientific papers expose incredible discoveries to the world, but do they make a tangible difference for the man on the street? They do, but the changes they stimulate can sometimes take a long time.

I talk to academics with revolutionary ideas, and together with my colleagues, we draw strategies to achieve their commercialisation.

So I asked myself: can research make a difference in a shorter time scale? Working at Cambridge Enterprise I’ve learnt that the direct commercialisation of research via licensing to an existing company, or the formation of a new start-up can be an effective way of getting industry traction for a technology, allowing it to be exploited quickly in the real world.

And this is what I do all day, every day, in my current role as a Technology Associate at CE. I talk to academics with revolutionary ideas, and together with my colleagues, we draw strategies to achieve their commercialisation. We evaluate the intellectual property of the ideas, find commercial partners and mentors, raise funding and take the necessary steps to make their ideas grow into a product.

It’s a very dynamic environment in which every day is different: one moment you are talking to Professor Dame X about her research, the next you are negotiating with Company Y on the acquisition of one of our portfolio technologies, or you are having lunch with serial entrepreneur Z who you’d like to hire as a consultant to help with the first steps of a future start-up. It’s outstanding how translating potential into action every day creates so much impact in the long term. In the words of Pablo Picasso: ”Action is the foundational key of all successes.”

We’re currently looking for a new Technology Associate on our Physical Sciences team. So if you want to help change the world, one great idea at a time, get in touch.

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