Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Meghna Mathur is a Business Partnerships Associate in the Business Partnerships Office, Medical Sciences Division. In her story, Meghna tells us about her role of leading Medical Sciences Division's SME engagement strategy and shares different ways of collaborating with small and medium sized companies (SMEs).

Meghna Mathur alongside the quote "My drive has always been to make a tangible impact on patients. Coming from a scientific background with first-hand lab experience, I understand how impactful industry partnerships are to achieving real-world results."

Can you tell us a bit about your team and your role within it?

I'm part of the Business Partnerships Office in the Medical Sciences Division, as Business Partnerships Associate. Our team helps set up and manage strategic partnerships between the university and industry partners. While I do support the team on a few existing strategic partnerships with large pharmaceutical companies, my main focus is on engagement with small and medium sized companies (SME). I lead the division's SME engagement strategy and support our academics in building research collaborations with these innovative small/medium companies.

What sparked your interest in supporting academic-industry partnerships?

I have a scientific background in biotech with a specialisation in neuroscience, so I have always been fascinated by technological advancements. Before moving to the UK, I was at McGill University's Early Drug Discovery Unit in Canada, where I facilitated establishing the 'Neuronal Organoids Platform' in 2017. This role opened doors to numerous industry collaborations, each unique and instrumental in advancing our research.

My drive has always been to make a tangible impact on patients. Coming from a scientific background with first-hand lab experience, I understand how impactful industry partnerships are to achieving real-world results. This, along with my experience in a start-up environment, motivates me every day at the University of Oxford to support academic-industry collaborations. I love being in a room full of ideas when academia and industry come together on pioneering technologies. Organoids-related discussions, in particular, are my absolute favourite!

How do collaborations with SMEs differ from those with large pharmaceutical companies?

Collaborating with SMEs and large pharma companies presents different dynamics and opportunities – it's like working in two different worlds, each with its own set of perks. Big pharma collaborations often come with significant funding, vast resources, and a strong reputation. However, SMEs are hubs of innovation. They tend to focus on niche markets or cutting-edge solutions that align closely with specialised academic research. Collaborations with SMEs are usually fast-paced and highly focused, which can be both challenging and immensely rewarding. While big pharma projects may have broader scopes and longer timelines, SMEs offer an innovative partnership experience.

How can researchers work with SMEs?

There are several avenues for researchers to engage with SMEs. It could be through data transfer agreements, material transfer agreements, consultancy, studentship, sponsored research project, fellowship, and joint research collaborations. Leveraging third-party funding, such as Innovate UK, can also be incredibly beneficial for a research collaboration with an SME.

How do you support these collaborations with SMEs?

We support researchers from start to finish throughout the collaborative journey with companies (of any size). As part of our SME engagement strategy, we've developed an evaluation matrix to perform detailed pre-screening of the potential partners. This approach ensures we pursue the most promising and relevant partnerships with SMEs, saving time and effort for everyone involved. We also host business networking events to bring academics and industry together. If you're interested in collaborating with industry and need our help, do get in touch with us - we're here to help!