After ten years at the helm of Edinburgh Research and Innovation, the research and commercialisation arm of the University of Edinburgh, and after a total of 27 years at the University, Derek Waddell has decided to step down as CEO.
ERI’s Company Secretary and Head of Finance & Operations, Ian Lamb, will become acting Chief Operating Officer, with effect from 15 April, to ensure that the day to day business and activities of the company continue as normal.
Derek joined UnivEd Technologies Ltd (the forerunner of ERI) in April 1988 as European Contracts Manager, where he helped the University to rapidly develop and grow its research activities with European sponsors.
In 1999, Derek was appointed Deputy Director of the newly formed subsidiary company, Edinburgh Research and Innovation Limited, after UnivEd’s operations merged with the University’s Research Support division. Derek’s remit involved management of ERI’s Business Development and Consultancy operations, as well as leading negotiations on many major licence deals and spin-out company formations, including MTEM in 2004.
At the end of October 2005, Derek was appointed Director of Research Services and Commercialisation at the University of Edinburgh, and Chief Executive Officer of ERI.
Since then Derek has led the company to become one of the world’s leading technology transfer offices, recently coming 18th in the Global University Venturing Rankings for 2014.
The value of ERI’s commercialisation activities to the UK and Scottish economies was recognised in a major economic impact report by BiGGAR Economics in 2012 which showed that ERI’s commercialisation work generated over £164 million GVA per annum for the UK economy (globally over £200 million), and supported almost 3,000 jobs in the UK (over 3,500 worldwide).
A number of successful company formation initiatives were established by ERI under Derek’s watch, including the Edinburgh Pre-Incubator Scheme and LAUNCH.ed, resulting in recognition for Edinburgh as one of the top-performing enterprise universities in the UK. Old College Capital has also been established to provide early-stage venture investments into some of the University’s leading spin-out and start-up companies as they grow.
Derek was also one of the drivers behind the creation of Interface - the knowledge connection for business, which is transforming the business innovation landscape in Scotland. In its nine years Interface has supported almost 1,000 collaborative projects between business and the country’s world-leading academic expertise, contributing more than £17 million to the Scottish economy each year.
On announcing his departure to staff, Derek said:
“I have worked at the University and ERI for many years and have been very fortunate to work with some very talented people over that time. The company has been very successful and is very highly regarded throughout the UK, and you all deserve credit for that. It is time for the company to move on in new directions, and I wish you all success in meeting these new challenges.”
The University’s Director of Corporate Services and Chair of ERI’s Board, Hugh Edmiston, commented on Derek’s remarkable contribution to the commercialisation success of the University, saying:
“Derek has been a loyal member of staff throughout his 27 year career. He has led ERI with great success and has contributed significantly to the reputation of the University at an international level. On behalf of the University I would like to thank him for his extraordinary commitment and dedication over the years, and wish him every success in his future endeavours.”