Date published: 10/03/18
Career Development – Dr Andrew Aldridge
- Current Organisation: University of Leeds
- Current Position: Post-Doctoral Research Scientist
- Secondment organisation: IKC Medical Technologies
- Secondment supervisor/colleague name: Jo Dixon-Hardy
Understanding of the commercialisation pathway
My name is Dr. Andrew Aldridge and I am a Post-Doctoral Researcher working in the field of Regenerative Medicine, specifically the use of adult stem cells in combination with tissue scaffolds. I decided to apply for a secondment to help my understanding of the commercialisation pathway that universities have to progress their emerging technologies.
I work closely with the NHSBT-TES so my research has always had a clear goal in mind (the development of a product for patient benefit) but I wanted to further understand how the research that goes on in universities goes on to be a commercial product. I always felt that there seemed to be so many great research projects that just ended up getting abandoned when the grant funding had finished.
I choose the Medical Technologies IKC to do my secondment in as I had seen the work they had done with some of my colleagues, and their role seemed to be to help academics take their research further, to try to help secure external interest to allow the research project to develop into the beginnings of a commercial technology. I had seen members of the IKC team give presentations at various conferences I had attended, and not only were the people there very knowledgeable and experienced, but approachable and friendly too.
I am hoping that I will be able to expand my current knowledge about what attracts commercial partners to a good research project, what factors to consider when doing research that could improve the chances of it becoming a commercial product, how to assess research projects and new technologies and how to manage the intellectual property arising from a research project; better understanding what can be divulged and what should be kept unsaid.
Supporting the translate process
In my normal role as a PDRA I am actively involved in research, my day to day role is typically spent in the laboratory doing experiments, or researching new methods that would help progress my work.
In my secondment role I am working typically with other researchers to try to understand what they need to help translate their research, facilitating the process of getting it from the laboratory into the hands of end users, not only at the University of Leeds, but also with the Translate team and their partners at the other Leeds City Region universities.
I am working closely with Technology Innovation Managers to see what’s involved in their role, and learning how they interact with academics, researchers and industry to project manage their Proof of Concept (POC) projects. I am gaining experience in project evaluation and review as well as assessing the potential in submitted POC projects applications.
Additionally, I have been working closely with the IP Manager on the team to find out more about how to do prior art/FTO searches, how to assess if a research proposal or technology is novel and what existing patents it may be infringing on.
I look forward to gaining more experience around the management of IP with regards to medical technologies.
The role of a Technology Innovation Manager
For my secondment I was working in partnership with Technology Innovation Managers to get more experience of what is involved in their role, and also learning how they interact with academics, researchers and industry to project manage their Proof of Concept (POC) projects. I gained experience in project evaluation and review as well as assessing the potential in submitted POC projects applications.
My secondment benefitted me as it gave me the opportunity to develop the skills required to pursue a career in Technology Transfer; my role prior to this as a Post-Doctoral Researcher allowed me to work very closely with the NHS Blood and Transplant, Tissue and Eye Services (NHSBT-TES) but the secondment was focussed much more on project management and opportunity evaluation (looking at the bigger picture).
The highlight of the secondment opportunity was being able to jointly manage a POC project with one of the more experienced Technology Innovation Managers; this was hosted at another research Institute and I learned a lot about how the POC projects are successfully managed.
My knowledge about opportunity evaluation has improved, and I have a greater understanding about the Medical Technology Landscape within the UK, this and a better understanding of the commercialisation pathways of Medical Technologies will influence my research allowing me to better develop the technologies I am working on, making them more likely to secure further investment to held in their commercialisation.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the Translate Secondment program, it was a fantastic opportunity to broaden my knowledge and offered me the chance to get some experience of Technology Transfer that I would otherwise not have been able to get. If anybody is considering applying for a secondment definitely do it! Not only can you get valuable experience, but also expand your network for later development or career opportunities!