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Recruiting talented executives to lead strong university spin-outs

Applications are now closed

Help turn world-class research into successful commercial ventures

Use your experience & skills to make an impact

Support innovations that will change our world for the better

SETsquared Scale-Up Programme logo

About the programme

The SETsquared Executives into Business programme is recruiting talented business executives to lead strong and innovative companies spinning out from our partner universities.

University spin-outs, like other high tech start-ups, face numerous challenges. One critical success factor is quality of management, not least because this is crucial in securing further investment. The Executives into Business programme seeks to address this by attracting experienced, talented business executives during the pre-incorporation phase of the spin-out, allowing them to work with the university and academic founders to set up a robust, viable business.

Our partner universities (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey) have a strong innovation pipeline. The business opportunities that arise are not only commercially exciting but have the potential to make a real impact on our society.

Who should apply?

For Executives: We’re looking for skilled and experienced commercial leaders, from a diverse range of backgrounds, to take a leadership role in helping turn world-class research into successful commercial ventures.

You’ll either have been through the spin-out process previously or be very familiar with it; have experience of launching, running and scaling an early stage venture; have contacts and commercial experience in a specialist science or technology-related field; have previously raised investment and/or grant funding.

Remuneration for the role is competitive and is offered against delivery milestones.

For ventures: If you’re an academic from a SETsquared partner university and have an opportunity that may benefit from Executives into Business support, contact your university’s technology transfer team in the first instance.

Frequently asked questions

Q. What can the executive be appointed to do?

A. A typical application might be structured around the appointed executive undertaking development of the business plan, securing investment and commercial contracts. However, there is flexibility to consider other activities related to incorporation and future success of spin-out companies.

Q. What experience do I need to become an executive and lead a spin-out business?

A. We’re keen to develop a strong pool of candidates with as diverse a range of backgrounds and experience as possible however previous experience and track record is key to success. We look for candidates to articulate their skills and experience which they feel would make them a strong CEO to lead a start-up spin-out business.

Tenders are issued for specific opportunities to all candidates in the pool, and at that stage the tender documentation will clearly state any specific experience required for that opportunity, for example any particular industry knowledge or experience.

Q. How much are executives paid to lead a spin-out company?

A. The Executives into Business programme is funded through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund, which enables us to offer executives up to £30,000 per placement. The placement will be on a contract basis and remuneration is awarded against development milestones set out in the tender. A typical placement could be either full time or part-time depending on the brief and is expected to last 6 – 12 months.

Q. How can I become an executive?

A. SETsquared is working in partnership with the Northern Accelerator to deliver the Executives into Business ‘Talent Pool’.  To comply with funding requirements, Newcastle University has developed a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) framework which potential executives need to register on. Once registered they become part of a pool of candidates. The DPS is open continuously for new candidates to join and Newcastle’s University procurement team can provide support to help candidates work through the application process.

When an opportunity arises e.g. a spin-out is ready for a CEO to take the business forward, the opportunity is shared with the candidate pool as a tender. Candidates can then bid for the opportunity and applications are reviewed by a panel including technology transfer experts from the relevant university and the academic founder. This allows the university to select and appoint the most appropriate candidate.

Q. What are the benefits of becoming an Executive into Business?

A. SETsquared universities have a strong innovation pipeline, with much untapped potential. The business opportunities that arise are not only commercially exciting but have the potential to make a real impact on our society. Executives therefore have access to unique opportunities based on world-class research, and those opportunities have already passed the due diligence required to get university approval as a potential spin-out.

Q. What are the benefits for a spin-out if recruiting an Executive into Business?

A. Talented business executives bring the spin-out enhanced access to networks, business experience and investment routes, and as they are recruited during the pre-incorporation phase, they’ll work closely with the spin-out to set up a strong and viable business from the outset.

Q. How can an academic apply for an executive to join a potential spin-out?

A. If you are an academic from a SETsquared partner university (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Southampton, and Surrey), please speak to your university’s technology transfer team in the first instance.

Applications are now closed

SETsquared is a partnership between

  • University of Bath
  • University of Southampton logo

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