Chris Lowe, the most Entrepreneurial Scientist of the UK

May 29 2009

chris_lowe

“Creative and entrepreneurial research which is well protected with patents, copyright and trade marks, exploited through spin-out companies which are adequately funded by angel, VC or corporate investment leads directly to sustainable employment and the creation of wealth.

Chris Lowe is the Director of the Institute of Biotechnology and Professor of Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge. He is a fellow of Trinity Collage.

The principal focus of his biotechnology research programme over the last 30 years has been the high value - low volume sectors of pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals and diagnostics, from pure science to strategic applied science, some of which has significant commercial applications and had led to the establishment of 7 spin-out companies.

His principal areas of expertise are: Downstream Processing of Biopharmaceuticals, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Enzyme and Microbial Technology.

The post-genomics revolution is still very much in its infancy

As Chris Lowe explains in an interview in businessweekly, “the Institute of Biotechnology is a centre of excellence in biotechnology research. It was established in 1988 to meet growing demands for highly skilled research personnel, and the new knowledge necessary for continuing expansion of the science platform upon which biotechnology innovations are based. Quickly became a leading centre of excellence conducting high quality biotechnology research, providing bioscience training and creating the academic, business and financial leaders of the future.

The Institute aims to create opportunities at the interface of several scientific disciplines and by integrating other business, teaching and training activities into an entrepreneurial culture, it promotes a seamless transition for exploitable research from bench to marketplace. The Institute was awarded a prestigious Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement in 1996, the first such award for Cambridge, and I was named ‘Most Entrepreneurial Scientist of the UK.’
To date, the Institute has been uniquely successful in creating an entrepreneurial ethos in an academic environment. We plan to merge the Institute with the Department of Chemical Engineering to create a new Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, introduce a limited undergraduate curriculum, enhance our research profile with further staff appointments, engage in clinical translation via what we term Research-to-Patient (R2P), expand the MBE course, establish a small seed fund to support very early stage spin-outs and export our ideas worldwide. I believe that we have a unique model which could serve as an exemplar elsewhere in the world.

Research-based entrepreneurship

The University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor said: ‘Research-based entrepreneurship is playing an increasing role in driving the UK’s economic growth. The choice of the Institute of Biotechnology for the Queen’s Anniversary Prize is testament not only to its success in putting research at the heart of entrepreneurial learning, but also to its status as a model for others.’

The key headline figures are 10 companies employing over 250 people and worth more than £250m spun out of the Institute following some £10m of public investment in 15 years. The lessons learnt in this process are now being used to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The Institute’s key concept is to gather together inter-related biological, chemical and physical sciences and medical and engineering disciplines to generate imaginative research at their boundaries and then use these advances to develop business activity and entrepreneurial training.”

Chris Lowe has 250 publications, 7 monographs and 40 patents. He is actively involved in many collaborations worldwide, is on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals, sits on a number of research council, grant awarding and government committees, and is active in various legal and entrepreneurial roles.

Chris Lowe es moderator and panelist at HealthCare Innovation, Wolrd Innovation Summit Hit Barcelona 2009.