David Christensen – Chief Executive Officer
Expertise: David has 20+ years of commercial experience, working in the broad area of University technology commercialisation since 2004. David joined Otago Innovation in 2007, his roles in that time have included Senior commercialisation manager and General Manager (2016 – 2018) while continuing his work with operational management, diagnostic biomarkers, physical medical devices, ICT opportunities and drug development. Specialising in early identification of commercially valuable IP.
Dr Dee Barwick – Commercialisation Manager
Deanna completed her PhD in Anatomy/Neuroscience (2021) investigating novel therapeutics for recovery following stroke both in vitro and in vivo. She continued her research career working as an ARF investigating neurodevelopmental disorders by differentiating human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into neurons to investigate neuronal biology and function.
In early 2020, Deanna joined the Return on Science Otago Momentum Investment Committee and discovered she has a passion for critically thinking about start-ups and their opportunities for commercial success. Following the completion of her PhD, Deanna joined the Return on Science Biotech & Pharma Investment Committee, and also joined Otago Innovation part-time as a Commercialisation Analyst.
In January 2022, Deanna joined the Otago Innovation team full-time as a Commercialisation Manager.
”The best thing about Otago Innovation is we can help the high-quality research programmes from Otago get out into the world to make an impact”
Dr Graham Strong – Commercialisation Manager
Expertise: Technology, software, life science, start-ups, Indigenous business development and nutraceuticals. Graham’s area of research is in plant sciences. Previously worked at Dunedin City Council - Economic development unit, where Graham developed the research support fund. He designed, implemented and developed the Dunedin Internship programme, developed in conjunction with the University of Otago the International Research Pilot. Graham assists in accessing grant funding and developing licensing/business opportunities for technologies. He joined Otago Innovation in 2012.
Dr Luke Taylor
Trained as a physicist, Luke’s background includes over 15 years experience in laser ultrasonics and laser systems R&D. His work for a leading astronomical research institute has been transferred to industry (forming the basis for multiple high-value products), carefully published, and internationally recognised.
He has also held positions in an early-stage deep-tech company and in academia, and established and ran a Development Centre within a National Centre of Research Excellence (seeking to further research outputs on a commercial track). Since 2015, he has held various roles within New Zealand’s commercialisation network, including with Otago innovation.
In this role, he seeks to bring projects to a point of investor readiness. His portfolio includes opportunities stemming from Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Surveying, Dentistry, Anatomy, and the Surgical Sciences among others.
Dr Alex Tickle - Commercialisation Manager
Expertise: Life sciences (including drug discovery and development, diagnostics, medical devices), Chemistry (academia and industry), Pharmaceutical and biotech industry and business development. Alex’s area of research is in organic chemistry. Before joining Otago Innovation, Alex was a product and marketing manager for Neuraxpharm in Germany. Joined Otago Innovation in 2003.
Sam Wilkins – Commercialisation Manager
Expertise: Sam completed his post-graduate research at Otago in the Microbiology and Immunology Department in 2015, before making the leap into commercialisation and technology investment where he has been embedded for 7+ years. Initially working at Return on Science, Sam was integral to the rollout of the Momentum programme which enables a new generation of student entrepreneurs to access advice and capital.
In 2017, Sam was a Commercialisation Manager with Auckland UniServices, where he managed deployment of their deep-tech investment fund targeted at maximising impact and returns from research. In this role, Sam enjoyed building relationships with academics, entrepreneurs, and investors to drive innovative research towards societal impact.
Sam is excited to be working with the world class researchers at Otago, and discovering new opportunities to grow the University’s reputation for innovation.