Health & Wellbeing

Supporting budding biotech innovators to dream big

Published Oct 11, 2022

Senior Commercialisation Manager Jeremy Jones supports emerging biotech entrepreneurs through his role at Wellington UniVentures and with his volunteer work on the executive council of BioTechNZ, where he represents New Zealand’s education organisations. Jeremy has spent his whole life dreaming big and he sees it as his role to help others do the same.

A passion for business

Even as a child, Jeremy Jones dreamed of making an impact on the world. In his early years, he thought that meant becoming an inventor and was a little disheartened when it seemed as though everything important had already been invented. These days, Jeremy is making that dream a reality by bridging the gap between the lab and the commercial world. Now, with a Masters in Chemistry and more than ten years in commercialisation under his belt, he’ll tell you that invention actually never ceases. There’s always a new problem to solve and, more often than not, science and technology are part of the solution.

Commercialisation has played an important role in Jeremy’s career to date. For almost a decade, he worked as a process development chemist at Glycosyn (Callaghan Innovation). Throughout, he was always exposed to the commercial realities of the pharmaceutical industry; though he still wore a white coat every day, this market awareness—coupled with his dream of making an impact—opened his eyes to a different career pathway.

Towards the end of a role at KiwiNet, Jeremy was asked to join Wellington UniVentures. Within just a couple of months, he held the reigns of a biotech start-up the team had just spun out. For the three years that followed, he lived and breathed the journey of turning science ideas into a commercial reality. Now, as a Senior Commercialisation Manager at Wellington UniVentures, Jeremy spends his time seeking out innovation and forging long-term partnerships with some of Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s greatest minds.

“I love every aspect of commercialisation,” he says. “My passion is for translating technology into something that can have an impact on society and make people’s lives better. And this is a passion-based business; without it, you don’t last long.”

Advocating for scientists across New Zealand

Building and maintaining effective networks is a critical part of the commercialisation process. As a result of one of the many effective working relationships he has established, Jeremy was nominated and elected onto the Executive Council at BioTechNZ—an organisation that is part of the country’s Tech Alliance. BiotechNZ connects private sector industry, innovators, investors, regulators and public sector researchers and its role is to advocate for the biotech industry in New Zealand.

“There are sister groups representing other technology networks that were set up to support the private sector in each domain,” says Jeremy. “Biotechnology is relevant to, and spans, many of them; our field covers everything from human healthcare through to agri-tech and the environment. What unites our network is that we use the life sciences to drive industry opportunities.”

In his role on the Executive Council of BiotechNZ, Jeremy gives a voice to education providers operating in the biotechnology space and advocate for the research those institutions are conducting. He also looks for ways to transition ideas and innovations into the private sector.

One of the hot topics for the organisation is the area of genetic modification. To a certain extent, New Zealand’s strict laws hold back research and development. Right now, the aim is to try and make the existing framework more workable.

Tackling new frontiers

In his role as Senior Commercialisation Manager at Wellington UniVentures, Jeremy has to be a utility player. His remit draws on his knowledge of biology, chemistry and pharmaceuticals but he still regularly ventures into the unknown. His role is to identify commercialisation opportunities, develop strategies and projects, find investment and then work on the deals themselves. As such, there’s little room for specialisation in any one area of the process.

As well as starting what he hopes will be a great relationship, in his first meeting with any scientist Jeremy is looking to see how excited they are about the prospect of bringing a product to market. If they’re not excited about the possibilities of commercialisation, everything down the line becomes much harder. Ultimately, he sees his mission as getting them to dream, too.

“Part of what we do at Wellington UniVentures is to get scientists dreaming about the impact of what they are working on,” he says. “And we want to make those dreams as big as possible.”