Midlands Mindforge Appoints Non-Executive Directors to Board

Midlands, UK (1st February 2024) –Midlands Mindforge, a patient capital investment company for university spinouts and other early-stage IP-rich businesses in the Midlands, today announces the appointment of its full board of directors.

Mr Richard Swann, Dr Nik Kotecha OBE DL, Ms Christina McComb OBE will be appointed as independent non-executive directors. Ms Yewande Akinola MBE, Professor Nick Jennings CB, and Mrs Margaret Monckton will be joining as university-appointed non-executive directors. All members will join the Board on 1st February 2024.

This announcement follows the appointment (24 January 2024) of Midlands Mindforge’s Scientific Advisory Council, made up of industry-leading experts from across the 8 partner universities.

Mr Mike Rees, Chair of Midlands Mindforge, said: “We are delighted to have recruited such a high-quality Board with a full and diverse set of skills. The Midlands Mindforge Board reflects our commitment to the highest standards in corporate governance and give all stakeholders confidence in the integrity of our processes and people”. 

“Our Board is comprised of leading people in their respective fields which gives Midlands Mindforge great credibility in its mission to identify, invest in, and scale up, IP-rich university spinouts and other SMEs based in the Midlands”.

Mr Richard Swann has a successful investing career, culminating in his current role as the chair of Inflexion’s Investment Committee. Previously, he was a partner of Deloitte and its predecessor firm, Authur Andersen. He also sits on the board of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Council, as well as the Council of the University of Birmingham.

Dr Nik Kotecha is a pro-chancellor of De Montfort University and has had a long and successful career as an entrepreneur and scientist. He founded and built Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd into a globally successful company and has since been involved in several successful enterprises alongside his philanthropic work through the Randal Foundation. He sits on the boards of The Prince’s Trust and the Centre for Social Justice and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science by the University of Leicester in July 2023, for his contribution to science. 

Ms Christina McComb is a highly experienced board appointee, with a long and successful career in venture and growth capital investment. She is currently chair of Aegon UK PLC and a Trustee and Chair of the Endowment Investment Committee at Nesta, and a non-executive director at Big Society Capital and Seraphim Space Investment Trust. Throughout her career, Ms McComb has worked with leading UK universities and research council technology transfer offices in order to better support the UK spinout ecosystems. 

Ms Yewande Akinola is an award-winning engineer who, for a long time, has supported innovation and diversity within the UK engineering industry. She is an innovation consultant, supporting businesses on their sustainable innovation journeys, Vice President of the Institute of Engineering & Technology, as well as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. She currently sits on the Council of the University of Warwick.

Professor Nick Jennings is the vice-chancellor and president of Loughborough University and is an internationally recognised leader of academic research into the AI and cyber-security sectors respectively. He previously served as the UK Government’s first Chief Scientific Advisor for National Security, and as Vice-Provost for Research and Enterprise at Imperial College London. Throughout his career, he has been involved in a number of successful startups within the tech sector. 

Mrs. Margaret Monckton has spent the last 9 years of her career working within the UK university sector and is the current chief financial officer at the University of Nottingham. She is also currently a director of the Nova Education Trust and a member of the Audit Committee of the Office for Students. 

Dr Lisa Smith, CEO of Midlands Mindforge, added: “The experience and talent of our Board represents the seriousness of our ambitions as an independent patient capital investment company. Our Board is deeply connected to the Midlands innovation and research ecosystems and will play a pivotal role in supporting our goal to build a business that will invest in and support the scaling up of successful IP-rich businesses.” 

Mr Richard Swann, said: “Good corporate governance and sound leadership are critical to the success of Midlands Mindforge. I am excited to be working with colleagues with deep experience in VC investment, academia, and building successful companies, all supporting the strategic direction of the Company and overseeing rigorous corporate governance”

Ms Christina McComb, said: “Mindforge’s ambitions to direct targeted venture capital at the Midlands will play a vital role in supporting the commercialisation of IP across the region”. 

Dr Nik Kotecha, said: “Mindforge is following a tried and tested investment model – a model which has had a huge impact in other parts of the UK. We aim to replicate the success of other investment companies, while pushing boundaries for our region even further – investing in the same asset class, to transform the Midlands into a recognised and leading hub for fast-growing IP-rich businesses”

Ms Yewande Akinola, said: “Our partner universities are each home to pioneering researchers across the science and technology sectors, who are developing cutting-edge solutions to real-world issues. Dedicated capital will help those researchers build their IP into successful Midlands-based businesses, having an impact both in the region and further afield”. 

Mrs Margaret Monckton said: Through Mindforge’s investment approach, the Company will act as an innovation flywheel, working with universities, government, and corporate partners to support IP-rich start-ups. I am excited to work with colleagues to bring partners across the region together to achieve this.”

Professor Nick Jennings, said: “Mindforge is focused on investing in the industries of the future. Our universities are making outstanding advances in Life Sciences, Greentech, and Deeptech. Mindforge’s ambition is to anchor tomorrow’s transformative industries in the Midlands, developing a clear pathway for our researchers to commercialise their transformative innovations and build successful businesses”. 

Notes to editors

About Midlands Mindforge: Midlands Mindforge is an ambitious, patient capital investment company aiming to transform ground-breaking science and technology into successful businesses with the potential to positively impact our world and accelerate the commercialisation of research from our partner universities – Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, and Warwick.

It is our ambition to turbocharge the translation of world-class innovations, taking them from the lab and building them into successful businesses through equity investment and acting as a partner to entrepreneurs.

Find out more at: www.midlandsmindforge.com

Boscobel and Partners
George Trefgarne, Nicholas Gardner

© Midlands Mindforge