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First Trust Bank/University of Ulster Distinguished Graduate Award - Dr Sharon O'Kane

20 December 2011

Dr O’Kane currently holds a portfolio of Non-executive Director and Advisory positions including Non-executive Director at TPP Global Development; Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Chair of the Drug Discovery Advisory Board at the University of Manchester intellectual property company, UMIP; and Non-executive Director of MIDAS, the Manchester investment and development agency service.

She has obtained national and international recognition as a leading woman within the biotechnology industry and as an entrepreneurial academic scientist. She is an inventor of more than 300 granted patents and patent applications, as well as having had a successful academic career with many industrial collaborators, publications, invited presentations, large peer-reviewed grants and numerous international awards. 

Dr O’Kane was the Chief Scientific Officer of Renovo Group PLC – one of the UK’s best known biotech companies – which she co-founded whilst Senior Research Fellow at the University of Manchester in 1998. She played a leading role in developing the biopharmaceutical product company to a publicly-listed company with a peak market capital of £400 million and 200 employees.  

In January 2010, Dr O’Kane left Renovo to further her career advising and developing new companies, focusing particularly on academic spin-outs. Despite having a very successful career and running a multi-million pound company, Dr O’Kane has always found time to carry out numerous activities to help highlight the importance of women in science and entrepreneurs in academia. She is currently a reviewer for the L’Oreal Women in Science Awards and has worked with the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council and Medical Research Council for several years.