Magdalen means business: Entrepreneur in Residence Dr Alan Roth

28 March 2024

Magdalen has always been involved in the intersections between science and business. Since 1991, our Science Park on the outskirts of the city has been reinforcing that link, and is now home to over 60 companies.

We’ve championed the relationships between academia and business for a long time. Our very own Fellow in Medicine and Biomedical Science Adrian Hill has been part of teams developing life-saving vaccines, including the Oxford Astra Zeneca Covid vaccine. Magdalen Emeritus Fellow and alumnus Brian Bellhouse (Mathematics, 1957) invented the PowderJect for both drug delivery and vaccinations.

Other successful entrepreneurs in Magdalen’s recent history include Professor Constantin Coussios (Professor of Biomedical Engineering) who founded OrganOx – working with organ donations and OrthoSon which aims to develop breakthrough spinal treatments. Also, Barbara Domayne-Hayman (1980, Chemistry), who built her career working at a series of biotech companies like Celltech(now UCB) and companies developing new anti-viral drugs working with vaccine stabilisation technology, and a new technology to improve the manufacture of biological drugs.

Our Entrepreneur in Residence is now Dr Alan Roth. He has been Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence and Visiting Lecturer in Chemistry at the University for the last three years. During this period, Alan says it has been equally important to be an active member of Magdalen’s SCR after being initially in the MCR for his postdoctoral chemistry studies and being awarded the College’s Edward Chapman Research Prize at the time. He’s now also the Senior Member of the Magdalen-initiated OX1 Accelerator and has mentored numerous Magdalen students and academics who have taken his course “Scientific Entrepreneurship”.

The course provides thorough academic entrepreneurship training exclusively tailored for medics, engineers and scientists like Alan himself and a unique platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to navigate the intersection of science and business innovation more effectively. “By teaching science students and academics how to better translate strong science into commercial innovation, you can optimize the results, interaction, and dynamic between the two sides”, Dr Roth said.  With a keen interest in researching the intersection of pure science, innovation, and entrepreneurship, he seeks to explore the unique thinking patterns of scientists in this context.

The course has produced nearly twenty prospective new ventures with fascinating inter-disciplinary interactions. Here at Magdalen there’s so much opportunity to support and strengthen any members of College – junior and senior members alike -who might be interested in innovation, as well as our alumni across diverse industries who could get involved with innovation at Magdalen if they’d like to. It really is an exciting time to think about the important interdependent relationship between academia and business. In this context, Dr. Roth serves also as CEO of the Chemistry Department spinout Oxford Drug Design developing innovative therapeutics against cancer based on a pioneering Oxford AI platform.

Looking ahead, Alan aims to incorporate further entrepreneurship-related activities and engage high-profile entrepreneurs specially alumni as visiting lecturers. This will build upon Magdalen’s foundations to create stronger connections between science and business innovation moving forward.