From lab to law

Published Jun 1, 2018

As a child, Stephanie Grant would often whip up concoctions in the bathroom sink when her mother wasn’t looking. This early fascination with mixing things together to see what she could make led her into a career in chemistry, before later broadening her skillse­t to include law. Today, she gets to combine the two as Viclink’s full-time Intellectual Property (IP) Manager, responsible for the company’s IP portfolio. 

Born in Kilmarnock, south-west Scotland, Stephanie completed her Bachelor of Science (Hons) at the University of Paisley in Scotland, where she also took on an optional one-year industrial placement at Quintiles (a fully integrated BioPharmaceutical services provider). Her role was to ensure that pharmaceutical products and Phase III clinical trial pharmaceutical products met pharmacopoeial and regulatory requirements. 

Next, she moved to York, England, to do a PhD—“because there was a project there that really interested me.” She says the pure research focused on the synthesis of ligands for catalysis (the acceleration of a chemical reaction by a catalyst). “Ligands (ions or molecules attached to a metal atom) influence how metal acts as a catalyst,” she explains.

Suitably qualified, Stephanie began looking for a job. Using the ‘I feel lucky’ button on Google search, she arrived at BDG Synthesis in New Zealand, a company specialising in synthesis of isotopically labelled compounds. Finding that the business was, in fact, looking for someone to join their small team, she duly emigrated. After synthesising and analysing compounds in the lab for a number of years, Stephanie became curious about the process of protecting IP. 

She subsequently moved to Baldwins Intellectual Property to work as a Patent Executive, helping local and overseas clients to secure protection for their chemical and biotechnological IP. At the same time, Stephanie began working towards full registration as a Patent Attorney, and enrolled at Victoria University to start a law degree. 

“Apparently it’s easier to train a scientist in law, than it is to teach a lawyer about science!” she says. 

Stephanie’s role in the team is to help protect (i.e. patent) the high quality research with commercial potential that is produced at Victoria—which has increased in volume since the Ferrier Research Institute and Robinson’s Research Institute became part of the University in 2015.

Already well-known to the Ferrier team, Stephanie shared work space with them in Gracefield while working at BDG Synthesis.

With the unique combination of seven years’ experience as a chemist, and seven years specialising in patent law, Stephanie says she is excited to use that experience to bridge the gap between science and business, and understands the researcher perspective on commercialisation. “I speak the language of science!” she says. 

“Stephanie is the perfect fit for the role, with the right technical background plus some great networks that she’s established within New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem,” says Dr Anne Barnett, Viclink’s Chief Executive. “We’re thrilled to have her on our team.”


Contact Stephanie Grant, IP Manager