Risk aversion is not something that comes naturally to Glenn Crocker, the newly appointed chief executive of the UK's largest bioscience and healthcare innovation centre.
Dr Crocker joined BioCity Nottingham at the start of this month, giving up a key job with the global professional services company Ernst & Young to head the fledgling venture. His appointment is unusual because innovation centres are generally run by university professionals.
BioCity Nottingham - owned by a consortium consisting of Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and the East Midlands Development Agency - is in effect a start-up company focused on providing services to new firms in a financially tight market.
Dr Crocker said: "This is a huge opportunity. I have a blank sheet of paper. I can do pretty much what I want."
During his time with Ernst & Young, Dr Crocker spent two-and-a-half years working with bioscience companies in Silicon Valley in the US. He returned to head Ernst & Young's UK biotechnology practice, where he was responsible for developing a strategy to build revenues from the biotech sector.
Dr Crocker wants BioCity Nottingham to provide the base from which the potential for profitable ideas from other higher education institutions in the region can be realised. These are Nottingham Trent University, University of Nottingham, University Hospital of Leicester, the Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, University of Leicester, Loughborough University and De Montfort University.
One of the challenges will be finding ways to reward risk and at the same time to allow academics to take a chance with a good idea, possibly during a sabbatical year.
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