Interview with Rich Ferrie, Director of Innovation at University College Cork – Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh. Responsible for technology transfer, entrepreneurship programmes and consultancy at UCC. Leads the Bridge Network Consortium which links UCC with its partners at CIT, Teagasc and IT Tralee.
What is your own background briefly?
• PhD/Molecular biology and genetics from University of Reading
• UK Forensic Science Service – DNA Fingerprinting (licensed technology from University of Leicester)
• Headhunted by AstraZeneca set up a commercial DNA fingerprinting factory in Oxford and Maryland USA
• Worked in Business Development for AstraZeneca Diagnostic – Identifying technologies for in-license and working on commercial partnerships – J&J and others
• Headed up S&M for AstraZeneca’s Diagnostic business and launched first genetic testing products for inherited diseases – Cystic fibrosis etc
• Joined University of Manchester – headed up is bioscience IP development group before going on to become Director of Operation of its Tech Transfer Office – 18 YEARS. In addition, did some work for Knowledge Transfer Ireland serving on their panel of experts which got me more connected to what’s going on here
Rich Ferrie, Director of Innovation, University College Cork
Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?
It’s a case of poacher turned gamekeeper. Much of my commercial career was either licensing University technology or applying it to real world problems. Now I am on the other side of the table, trying to find a commercial home for UCC’s technologies.
How was the last 12 months? What were your big wins?
It’s been an exciting year for me – a new job in a new country albeit pretty close to home. Re-branding the office was big – creating UCC Innovation from four cognate areas of UCC activity. Then having a new IP policy approved by the University, and having a successful mid-term review of the office. Response to COVID has been amazing despite the difficult circumstances for us all.
What would you have done differently?
We needed to make a lot of changes in a short time to bring the office to where I wanted it to be as we were being reviewed externally. Because of the tight focus on that, my understanding of the UCC culture and the importance of UCC to the city region came later and is still developing.
Why did UCC create the unified Innovation approach?
To create a portal for industry into the University and make a one-stop shop for both external client companies and internal academics needing support.
Why do you think it is such a powerful idea, how have you evolved your approach since the covid-19 onset?
Universities are porous to the outside world, but often is a challenge to connect with the right people. This helps substantially with that problem. We have remained open for business remotely during COVID and have managed to streamline our processes to support companies engaged in the fight against COVID. This is going really well.
Will we be seeing permanent moves to more digital first ways of operating?
Definitely. Ashamed to say I hadn’t used Microsoft Teams before COVID – now most of my working day is on-line meetings using that platform and zoom. I am sure that remote working will become a more accepted and desirable way of conducting business going forward. It aids productivity.
How can people find out more about you personally & your work?
I’m on linkedin and so is the office. There is a UCC Innovation webpage and twitter account. Always happy to make connections and build a dialogue.
IGNITE, the twelve month Graduate Business Innovation Programme is now open for applications and is inviting recent graduates with #startup ideas to apply. Applications are open until 5 June 2020. For more details, visit: https://t.co/qtjL0RRC6G #ignitestartups @IGNITEUCC pic.twitter.com/Ly8xaY78IK
— UCC Innovation (@ucctechtransfer) May 20, 2020
Who and where do you get inspiration from?
My boss Anita Maguire has been an amazing inspiration to me since joining. Very supportive of my move to UCC, shes great at getting to the nub of issues quickly and is a tireless worker.
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