Gregg Bayes-Brown, news editor of Global University Venturing, interviews Roger Ashby, a UK-based award-winning serial entrepreneur who has been heavily involved with UK commercialisation over the past few years, and is currently an adviser and mentor on tech transfer, as well as executive chairman of Imperial College spin-outs Sugru and Bare Conductive. He has a background in the oil industry and was a founder of Satellite Technology Systems in the 1980s.

Bayes-Brown: You were involved in setting up the UK’s University Challenge Funds (UCF) in 1999, which went on to create 378 companies. Tell us about the fund’s beginnings.

Ashby: [Former UK prime minister] Margaret Thatcher convinced [supermarket magnate] David Sainsbury to put the money up through his Gatsby Trust to employ me for three years to look at how to commercialise university technology. It did not take long to figure out what universities wanted was money.

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