During his tenure as Director of Research and Innovation Services at the University of Southampton, he has made it his goal to decrease the time in which university research benefits business. “I endeavour to harness the research of the university to drive the creation of a more vibrant and rapidly growing economy,” he says.
Key to this goal has been the creation of SETsquared, where Don is a board member.
A collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, its mission is to support the growth and success of new business opportunities through spin-outs, licensing and incubation.
He is particularly proud of the development of the Innovation and Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) programme, which he oversaw. The programme has “proved to be a game changer in its ability to move commercially promising research from the laboratories into the marketplace”.
What drives Don is his belief that society is going through a major transition, that “global communications and massive data resources are leading to a society that is very connected and knowledgeable. Organisations, be they corporate, governmental, educational, or third sector, must be much more agile and able to handle constant change. This environment puts a premium on being entrepreneurial.”
That entrepreneurial spirit is central to his vision of a vibrant economy. “Fostering a more entrepreneurial society is my commitment to the vibrant economy,” he says “because businesses are the wealth creation engines of society. For society to progress and evolve, the economy must grow and prosper.”