Tim Guilliams: Case study

at Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange (CUSPE)

CSaP-Government Secondee, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (September 2012 - December 2013)
Co-Founder at Healx3 and Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange (CUSPE)
Junior Associate Fellow at the Centre for Science and Policy

When I approached CSaP for the first time during my PhD at Cambridge University, little did I know how much it would impact my future plans. The Centre encouraged me to engage with policy-makers, co-found two Cambridge University societies (Feb 2010 & Jul 2012) and perform a secondment placement at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS; Sep 2012 - Nov 2013). Ultimately, as a combined result of all these experiences, the Centre and its network are continuing to support my professional development as my co-founders and I are trying to launch Healx3, a Cambridge-based startup company (Nov 2013).

My journey began in February 2010 when co-founding the CONNECTIONS Lecture Series. The society aimed to get members of academia, industry and government around the table to debate topical issues. CSaP was supportive of the initiative and helped us connect with policy-makers. Following a successful two years, it was time for a new challenge. As a result, in July 2012, we (some colleagues and I) co-founded the Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange (CUSPE). We built the society with the aim to build stronger links between early-career researchers and policy-makers. CUSPE rapidly grew to become one of the most prominent societies in Cambridge and now counts over 20 committee members. It is very active and engages across multidisciplinary research areas with members of over 10 different Government Departments and related institutions.

Over the course of my PhD, I realised academic research wasn’t for me. CSaP supported me to explore new horizons and start a secondment placement in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Believing strongly in the importance of knowledge exchange between academia, government and industry, I was fortunate to find my ideal project. It involved investigating University-Industry interactions and mechanisms of knowledge exchange and technology transfer in the area of Life Sciences, with particular focus on the Cambridge Cluster. Needless to mention it was a fantastic experience. Next to the research topic, which was very much in line with my personal interests, this experience gave me the opportunity to engage fully with the process of policy-making and gain insights into the dynamics and time-frames in which civil servants operate. It allowed me to develop a new subset of transferable skills and opened an entire new network of opportunities, which ultimately led to my next challenge: launching a startup company.

When interviewing members of the Life Sciences industry during my government project, it became clear to me that the sector is facing major challenges. Discovering and developing novel drugs is getting increasingly complex and expensive. Today, a single drug development project typically costs over $1 billion. As a result, many potential therapeutic treatments never make it to market because they do not have the promise of recovering the development cost, leaving millions of patients struggling to live with their conditions. Up for another challenge, my co-founders and I are now trying to launch Healx3, a startup that will aim to help deliver the next generation of therapeutics to patients in need.

To read Tim's report on his government project, please click here.