Investor Q&A: Leigh Brody

UCLTF Investor, Leigh Brody, tells us what led her to her current role at UCLTF and what she enjoys about working in investment and venture capital.

What led you to working on the Life Sciences Team at UCLTF?

My first encounter with the venture capital world was when I raised money to start a company around technology I developed during my PhD. While the company didn’t go very far (the appetite for mRNA delivery using a nanoparticle hadn’t quite matured yet), I found sitting at the intersection between science and business to be my true passion.

At that time, I had most of my training at the bench, but I knew nothing about how to commercialise an academic technology or build a company, so I spent the next few years gaining experience in early-stage biotech. I got exposure to everything, from early strategy planning through commercial development to acquisition, as Chief Scientific Officer of Desktop Genetics, a company focused on gene editing platforms. I also led Platform Strategy at Quell Therapeutics, which was, and still is, funded by UCL Technology Fund. After meeting the UCLTF team, I jumped at the opportunity to join.

Is there anything you miss about being an academic?

There will always be a piece of me that misses academia. My time at the bench, whether it was building the RNAi Consortium platform at the Broad Institute or my years of researching during my PhD at Imperial College, were some of the most rewarding and impactful years. The ability to think, plan and execute interesting experiments was incredibly fulfilling, and the intellectual freedom that comes with working in academia makes it an incredibly enriched ecosystem.

What is your favourite part of working with UCL academic founders?

One of the biggest parts I miss about academia is the brilliant academics I was lucky enough to surround myself with. The interaction with academics is one of my favourite aspects of this job because I get to talk about interesting science with people who love what they do and are so passionate about their research. Working at UCLTF is the best of both worlds for me, as I get to champion exciting academic research to invest in, and work to advance a technology which could be used to find a solution to change a patient’s life.

And your least favourite part…?

Fund capital is finite and forces discipline on where to invest, but it’s a challenge to say no to interesting science which might not have the economics or IP protection behind it. It’s important to have a constructive investment process, which sometimes requires having multiple conversations over a number of years to craft a project we can bring to our investment committee, or introducing them to other funding sources which might be more appropriate.

Are there any particular exciting investments that you’re working on at the moment?

Yes, very! Watch this space for some exciting announcements coming soon.

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