Dr Maxine Allen
Director of Business Partnerships
Medical Sciences Divisional (MSD) Office
Tell us a bit About your role
I work with the Deputy Head of Division for Innovation to develop the MSD innovation strategy and the specific innovation support services that MSD provide to our research staff and students to accelerate the translation and commercialisation of their research. The main part of my role is leading the divisional Business Partnerships Office. Our team facilitates the set-up of collaborative research projects with businesses and provides partnership management for larger, longer-term strategic partnerships with key industry partners. I also have oversight of the Divisional Translational Research Office and work closely with the community and regional engagement team at the BioEscalator (MSD innovation space) and in the central knowledge exchange team.
As a member of the University Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Sub-Committee, representing the university Business engagement teams, I am also responsible for providing the business partnerships input into the Institutional Knowledge Exchange strategy.
Prior to coming to Oxford as a research programme director, I worked as a programme manager in the biotech industry in the US and UK. This followed my PhD and postdoctoral research in genetics and cell biology. In 2010, the Regius Professor of Medicine asked me to establish a new business development function within the MSD to capitalise on the trend for businesses to look to external sources for their innovation. Our divisional team works in a complementary way to Oxford University Innovation (OUI). We collaborate with businesses at an earlier stage, funding research that may generate new Intellectual Property (IP) that OUI can exploit through licensing or spin-out generation.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
I enjoy helping researchers to make their work more impactful through joint working with businesses. The companies we work with bring direct funding, proprietary tools and reagents, the ability to scale up activity plus research insight into our projects.
Recently I have provided alliance management for the Oxford-AZ vaccine project that aims to scale up the production and distribution of the COVID19 vaccine.
Can you tell us about something you’ve done, contributed to that you’re most proud of?
I am most proud of setting up the first divisionally based business engagement team at Oxford from scratch. Through understanding the needs for our academics and businesses, we have been able to develop partnering and alliance management processes to successfully deliver a range of opportunities for business engagement and collaboration. Our team’s activities have subsequently influenced university wide and national HEI best practice in business engagement. We have also successfully bridged institutional boundaries through the integration of NHS staff into our team and delivery of business engagement for the OUH and OH NHS trusts.
I have secured £3.6m of funding from institutional and external funds to grow the team to twelve people. Together we have delivered over £85m in research funding through projects developed by the team.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
I think that Oxford Medical Sciences has an important role to play in tackling major global health and societal issues working with the core principle of facilitating equitable access to innovations in healthcare.
Our network of overseas research centres give us a unique reach and I would like to see us further grow and leverage these connections to underpin our institutional global health aspirations. We have an opportunity to turn our expertise to resolution of the pressing issues of mental health, antimicrobial resistance, emerging pandemics and responding to the health problems presented by climate change.
To deliver innovation will require an increase in joint working both across disciplines within our institution, and with a wide range of external partners.
There is also an opportunity for MSD to increase the level of influence it exerts on national and international policy in healthcare.