Barbara is the lead at the KQ Lab accelerator in London and Entrepreneur in Residence at the Francis Crick Institute. She talks us through the arc of her career from studying chemistry at Oxford to working internationally in the pharmaceutical industry, later transitioning into biotech startups, in both executive and non-executive roles. Having successfully navigated many career transitions, Barbara stresses the importance of being authentic and resilient and shares the mindset one needs to make large transitions in your career.
Building businesses is what has inspired Barbara most during her career. Her time at London Business School helped her understand and explore the entrepreneurial ecosystem and enabled her to consider a career transition. Barbara found that her deep science background coupled with her commercial pharmaceutical experience added real value in the biotech startup world. Her versatile skillset allowed her to take a variety of startup roles from Chair and CEO to business development and non-executive director.
Having helped to build several companies and exit two, Barbara now successfully manages a portfolio career. She has moved into the investment space, sitting on the investment committees of two UK health and life science seed funds; Cambridge Enterprise Seed Investment fund and Life Arc’s seed fund. Today, Barbara is also the entrepreneur in residence at the Francis Crick Institute, the largest biomedical research institute under one roof in Europe. The Francis Crick Institute is a unique partnership between leading players in the UK research space including UK Medical Research Council, UCL, Imperial College London, King’s College London, The Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK. It employs over 2000 people in the heart of London.
Helping scientists get their science translated to have real world impact is one of Barbara’s core talents. Her expertise comes into play when running the PULSE programme and the KQ LABS programme at the Crick. Both these programmes help scientists and health entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market. KQ Labs helps to bridge the gap between healthtech and true biotech. There has traditionally been an investment gap between the two fields as investors did either tech OR biotech, not both. KQ Labs helps support entrepreneurs and investors in this ‘interface’ area. Today, this interface area involves areas such as computational biology and healthtech. The business models, regulatory processes and metrics used in healthtech, AI and computational biology are still nascent and some investors did not feel comfortable with them. KQ Labs occupies a unique place where they nurture pre-seed health entrepreneurs and helping them to become investor ready. The entrepreneurs are exposed to very sector specific workshops, covering intellectual property, learning from pharmaceutical and med tech executives, understand how to access the NHS etc and they are also introduced to selected investors.
Barbara also discusses her move into angel investing, joining the Cambridge Angels investor network and her lens on angel investing. Barbara’s first angel investment came via startup she was informally advising and she saw an exit after just three years when the startup was sold to GE.
Learn more about KQ Labs: https://www.crick.ac.uk/research/applying-our-research/entrepreneurship/kq-labs