The University of Manchester Innovation Factory

Creating positive social, economic, and environmental impact through the commercialisation of the IP developed at The University of Manchester.

Andrew Wilkinson, CEO

Andrew Wilkinson

An alumnus of the University, Andrew Wilkinson is a successful CEO and Managing Director with extensive experience growing international technology companies. He spent many years leading complex, multi-national businesses, operating across a wide range of sectors. He specialises in the industrialisation and commercialisation of innovative technologies, business growth and turn-around.

Andrew joined the University in mid-2016 as CEO of its subsidiary company Graphene Enabled Systems Ltd (GES). Before joining GES, Andrew was the Regional Managing Director of the French power equipment manufacturer Socomec SA. At Socomec, Andrew led three subsidiaries covering North America and the British Isles, whereby he significantly grew the businesses’ revenue, profitability and market share.

Before this, he was Sales and Marketing Director of a group business of ICI plc, which manufactured a broad range of industrial and consumer products based on coated and thermally stabilised PET film.

Freddy Guemeni, Head of Intellectual Property

Freddy has more than ten years of experience in intellectual property management, helping to drive progress and innovation in research.

His broad experience includes roles at the National Institute for Health Research and Imperial Innovations. He is also a guest lecturer at multiple universities, including Imperial College London.

Science and Engineering

Natalie Mera-Pirttijarvi, Project Manager: Chemistry, Materials, and Translational Funding

After achieving a master’s in Chemistry from The University of Manchester, Natalie Mera-Pirttijarvi joined one of the University's spin-out businesses – Nanoco Technologies Ltd – being among its first employees. She worked in the research and development department, leading a team of researchers on a variety of projects involving quantum dots and collaborating with multinational companies interested in technology commercialisation. Now, Natalie puts her chemistry and commercialisation expertise to use at the Innovation Factory, where she has been since 2016.

Aldo Segura, Senior Project Manager: Computer Science

Aldo Segura is focused on realising software-heavy (or digital) projects and building quality relationships between the Innovation Factory and the University’s computer science community.

Aldo completed his bachelor's in Biotechnology Engineering, participating in and leading a synthetic biology project that competed in an international event and was awarded a silver medal.

He then came to the UK to complete a PhD in Computational Biology at the University of Sheffield, where he developed and studied yeast decision-making models.

Before his PhD, Aldo gained experience in the start-up environment and completed a project manager internship in the software space.

At the Innovation Factory, Aldo will focus on realising software-heavy (or digital) projects and trying to improve relations between TTO and the computer science community within the University.

Gareth Jones, Project Manager: Electronics

Before this role, Gareth Jones was the Scientific and Technical Officer at Graphene Enabled Systems at The University of Manchester. Gareth completed his PhD at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Graphene Science, where he co-authored 11 publications and contributed to multiple international research collaborations.

Sarwat Howe, Senior Project Manager: Electrical Engineering and FSE Outreach Champion

Sarwat Howe completed a master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Bristol. She then worked in R&D for HP Labs on next-generation displays. After this, she obtained a master’s in Photonics and a PhD in Electronic Engineering from the University of Cambridge, researching flexible nanowire opto-electronic devices.

Following her PhD, she worked in scientific consultancy with clients in a variety of sectors, from food and beverage to oil and gas, then moved to the University of Cambridge’s TTO (Cambridge Enterprise), commercialising inventions and building spinouts arising from the life, physical and social sciences. On relocating to Manchester, she worked for Health Innovation Manchester before joining the Innovation Factory in January 2022, where she’s a Project Manager in Electrical Engineering and the FSE Outreach Champion.

Life Sciences

Yousef Taktak, Senior Project Manager

Yousef Taktak has a PhD in Immunology and an MBA. He has worked with the WHO, NHS and the life science and medical technology industry.

He is passionate about developing innovations to improve the quality of patient care.

Using his industrial experience and business and commercial development skills, he has set up his own companies and developed technologies – such as coronary stents and advanced wound care hydrogels - from concept to development, IP protection, finance, commercialisation and exit.

Recently, he has advised health and life science companies to take their products through the development process to commercialisation for improved patient care.

Joanna Denbigh, Senior Project Manager

Joanna Denbigh has worked in drug development, chromatography, mass spectrometry, metabolomics and lipidomics for more than 17 years at global organisations in an R&D and commercial capacity, such as GSK, Waters, Thermo Fisher and Recipharm.

She has managed large multidisciplinary projects and has experience with regulatory submissions for new pharmaceutical products. She has also held a lectureship in pharmacology and led her research group in biomedical spectroscopy, synchrotron-FTIR and clinical translation of spectroscopy.

Joanna holds a PhD in Biological Chemistry from The University of Manchester and has widely published while working in academia and industry.

Sonia Nikolovski, Senior Project Manager

Sonia Nikolovski has more than 12 years of experience liaising with partners to develop and commercialise intellectual property in the clinical and life sciences.

Before her role at the Innovation Factory, Sonia worked in translational biotechnology research in Australia and completed an MSc in Management of Science, Technology, and Innovation from Manchester Business School and a PhD in Biochemistry from La Trobe University in Australia.

Sam Rhoden, Project Manager

Sam Rhoden has a degree in biochemistry from the University of Leeds. During his degree, he lived in China for a year studying Mandarin at a Shanghai University and completed a research internship at AstraZeneca’s Shanghai research facility.

He then obtained a PhD in Biochemistry and Medicine at The University of Manchester, followed by a postdoc researching autoantigens for membranous nephropathy, a rare kidney disease.

After his postdoc, he joined Redx Pharma based in Alderley Park as a Research Scientist. He developed novel phenotypic assays, established pre-clinical and early clinical collaborations in the UK, US and Japan and led the evaluation and selection of a first disease indication for a drug candidate in clinical development.

Ewelina Rozycka, Senior Project Manager

Ewelina Rozycka has more than 15 years of hands-on bioscience research experience, specialising in cell biology, drug discovery and regenerative medicine. She has worked with academia and industry on pre-clinical projects ranging from early proof of concept to final drug candidate nomination, focusing on cancer research and neurodegenerative disorders.

Most recently, she was responsible for the development and translation of pre-clinical research protocols to clinical- and regulatory-ready manufacturing processes for personalised tissue-engineered products targeting respiratory and immunological disorders at an SME in Leeds.

Ewelina has worked on multiple interdisciplinary programmes, supporting pre-clinical hit to lead optimisation, assay and drug development, and clinical translation of advanced therapies, collaborating with big pharma companies and academia.

Tansi Khodai, Project Manager

Tansi Khodai has several years of work experience in industry and academia. Before being a postdoctoral researcher within the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health at The University of Manchester, Tansi was part of the Drug Discovery Unit at Pfizer, Kent.

Barbara Ward, Team Administrator 

Visit the Innovation Factory's operations page to learn about the team and their contact details.