'Oh no, not another professor trying to be a business manager'

November 19, 2004

Colin Howard is vice-principal for strategic development and professor of veterinary microbiology and parasitology at the Royal Veterinary College. He is also director of the London Bioscience Innovation Centre, which has given him three years' experience and confidence in running his own business.

He is seeking first-round funding for a company to exploit his team's vaccine research. But he says his experience with investors is summed up by the phrase, "Oh no, not another professor trying to be a business manager."

He said: "We're making progress, but it is slow and hard. I run my own start-up and have found that a problem when I go for funding. They want to see experienced executives and don't place any value on academics running businesses.

"Many want to be running larger companies, so they develop (spin-offs) too fast. And many don't understand the academic sector. If you walk around calling yourself 'professor', they don't take you seriously."

Professor Howard is considering going to the US for funding. "There is a more dynamic attitude there, and you are judged by the evidence you bring to the table, not your title."

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