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Case study - University of Edinburgh

In December 2015 Veredus began the search to appoint a VP Industrial Engagement for Edinburgh Research & Innovation (ERI). ERI is the commercial arm of the University of Edinburgh whose primary role is to commercialise the world-class research and academic expertise at the University of Edinburgh to potential funders, collaborators, licensees or investors.  The search centred on finding a highly credible candidate that would be able to step into a newly created role whose remit was tasked with improving the commercial viability of ERI. This was vital as the University of Edinburgh’s research was seen to be in the top 20 universities in the world, though on commercialisation, UoE was only in the top 400. 

The new VP was to join a revitalised senior management team, and would be joining ERI at a time of extensive reorganisation. An Interim CEO was in place whose main ambition was to restructure ERI and help turn its fortunes around. The appointment of this VP was a key appointment in the commercialisation agenda. Reporting into the COO, the VP would have extensive oversight over commercial targets and would have a strong hand in driving commercialisation through scientific innovation and leadership.

There were a number of challenges that were immediately present when starting to candidate map, namely being able to find a senior commercial VP who had a background in technology and had engineering expertise. They also needed to have a worldwide network with entry to c-level executives. Lastly, this was new role for ERI so the infrastructure that would be there to support the incoming successful candidate was in its infancy.

Veredus overcame several challenges in creating a strong longlist and shortlist for this role. This was around the ambiguity of the role and the relationship between UoE, ERI and additionally, another research centre of which the successful candidate would have to seek funding and partnership for. They would have to create credibility with the Professors and understand what it would be to work for a university albeit with a commercial remit.

Veredus worked with ERI to develop a shortlist of candidates who reflected the above criteria, and who displayed not only a data driven and strategic approach to leading industrial engagement, but also has the technical and scientific abilities to lead a research lab to create commercial research to promote ERI. The shortlist consisted of candidates from three continents and for the final panel; two candidates from the US along with a UK candidate were interviewed.

The appointed candidate will begin his role in April 2016.
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