January 15, 2020, by Rob Ounsworth

UK’s first forum for female academic entrepreneurs launches at the University of Nottingham

The UK’s first forum for female academic entrepreneurs was being launched today (15 January 2020) at the University of Nottingham.

The Midlands Innovation Commercialisation of Research Accelerator (MICRA) created the forum to bring together women to explore entrepreneurship as a pathway for delivering societal and economic impact from their research.

University spin-out companies play a key role in taking innovation into the wider market and they also contribute to economic growth. However, the participation of women scientists and engineers in the development and formation of university spin-offs is limited.

Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University, is launching the event, and the keynote speakers are Professor Simonetta Manfredi, Director of the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice, Oxford Brookes University, and Professor Kiran Trehan, Professor of Leadership and Enterprise Development, University of Birmingham.

Also speaking at the event are four female academic entrepreneurs from University of Nottingham spin-out companies:

Professor Lindy Durrant CEO of spinout Scancell plc, which has a vaccine against melanoma currently going through clinical trials

Professor Lucy Donaldson a founder of Exonate Ltd, which has entered into a strategic collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to develop an eye drop treatment for retinal vascular diseases

Dr Cath Rees academic founder of PBD Biotech, which has developed a rapid detection method for tuberculosis

Professor Louise Mullany founder of  Linguistic Profiling for Professionals, which specialises in enhancing workplace communication across sectors and industries.

Louise Mullany

Louise Mullany, Professor in Sociolinguistics and founder of Linguistic Profiling for Professionals

Research by Elsevier found that although women represent about 40% of researchers, the global share of women inventors among patent applications in 2015 was only 14%.

Similarly, the UK Enterprise Research Centre surveyed a sample of 350 spin-out companies and found that men represented 91.7% of main founders or co-founders.

More than  80 female academics from across the MICRA partnership were expected at the launch event. Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of IP Commercialisation at the University of Nottingham, said: “There is clearly a demand for this type of support amongst the community of female academics, and by setting up this forum, we aim to show them how other women academics have succeeded in this arena and how they can overcome some of the obstacles they might face.”

Professor West said: “We are particularly fortunate at the University of Nottingham to have a number of successful female academic entrepreneurs that can act as fantastic role models for the aspiring female academic entrepreneurs coming behind them. ”

The next forum for female academic entrepreneurs event will be held at the University of Leicester on 31 March 2020.

For further information, please contact Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of IP Commercialisation at the University of Nottingham

Midlands Innovation is a world-class research and innovation partnership, combining the collective excellence of the universities of Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick. It unites the power of university research with the unique strengths of Midlands industry to drive cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development. Collectively partners are incubating more than 600 businesses and supporting over 1600 jobs.


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