Professor Rob Lee receiving his Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence award from Prince Andrew.

Helping Exeter to retain talent and commercialise research

Professor Rob Lee has recently joined the University of Exeter in the role of Royal Society, Entrepreneur in Residence. The prestigious appointment was announced on Tuesday 20 March at the Royal Society’s annual Labs to Riches dinner, with awards presented by Prince Andrew. Professor Lee received the award alongside Roger Killen who will also be based at Exeter.

The Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) posts were awarded to nineteen successful businesspeople to support UK universities. They will develop closer links between universities and industry, enabling the transformation of innovative ideas into commercially successful products and services. Professor Lee who has recently worked as a Senior Principal Scientist for Shell explained: "I am extremely honoured to be chosen for one of the Royal Society’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) roles. As an EiR for the Biosciences Department at University of Exeter, my aim is to help increase the level of successful technology start-ups and exploitation of IP arising from Biosciences research and education activities undertaken at the University."

When asked how he would achieve his aim Professor Lee clarified: "I intend to achieve this by furthering the development of students’ and researchers’ understanding of how to commercialise technology. I will enable this deeper understanding through the use of applied learning (a lecture and seminar module framed around working up an actual commercialization plan) and by providing face to face mentoring."

Professor Lee has an established relationship working with the University. He confirmed: “I have worked and collaborated with the University for more than 15 years and have been impressed with the energy and innovation shown by their researchers within the College of Life and Environmental Sciences and especially the Department of Biosciences."

Remarking on Professor Lee’s new post based within Biosciences, Professor John Love said: "I am very excited that Professor Rob Lee will be the Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at the BioEconomy Centre.  His expertise in research, innovation and business, acquired through years of practise as a leader in a multinational organisation will be an inspiration, especially as we proceed towards the REF."

Speaking of his aspirations and what inspires him Professor Lee revealed: "Over the years I have been struck by the strong unmet need for local bioscience based employment, to retain the talent that Exeter produces and I am excited to be able to offer the insights of my knowledge and experience, of both commercialising technology and developing people within a multinational company, in helping to catalyse the formation of home-grown companies."

Rob will be funded to spend 20 per cent of his working time in residence over the next two years, sharing his expertise and experience with students and staff.

Date: 29 March 2018

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