Simon Kerry is a business expert with expansive experience of creating and developing innovative life science businesses. He enjoyed success as the CEO of University of Southampton spinout Karus Therapeutics, where he took the company from a startup phase and progressed it through to a clinical stage cancer company. Simon now works as Operating Partner for UK-based investment company Advent Life Sciences, running and managing early stage companies, helping them to achieve success.
Simon grew up in a small village in Hertfordshire where he excelled in Maths, Chemistry and Computing at the local grammar school. After graduating with an Honours degree in Medicinal Chemistry from Loughborough University, he landed a role at a multinational pharmaceutical company in High Wycombe working on process development. It was during his time here he learned of the ever changing biotech and pharma environment and decided that working for smaller companies would be where his skills and strengths could make a much greater difference.
Simon went on to complete an Organic Chemistry and Microbiology PhD at Loughborough, before securing a management position in a diagnostics company in Nottingham. Following the completion of an Executive MBA, he eventually became Operations Manager for the company, which gave him the opportunity to apply his scientific knowledge to management, transforming him from the world of scientific research into business. Since then, he has spent the past 20 years applying his business knowledge to the growth and development of young life science businesses, helping them to raise money and build partnerships.
Over a three year period he enjoyed success at the Centre for Applied Microbiology Research, securing a number of partnerships for the Centre before leaving to lead the business development efforts at Actinova Ltd, a biotech startup company in Cambridge. This led to a move to Actinova’s Swedish parent company Active Biotech, from which Simon spun-out and co-founded the Cambridge-based Isogenica Ltd. Following this, Simon then went on to assist, what was then a small Belgian company, Ablynx through its first major funding round and early pharma partnerships for the development of drugs based on antibody fragments from llamas and camels.
Following Simon’s various small business accomplishments, he was headhunted to become CEO of a University of Southampton spinout, Karus Therapeutics. He helped to build the company through a challenging time whilst securing a major investment. The business is well regarded in the UK biotech sector today as it works to transform the lives of cancer patients that no longer respond to other treatments. “I feel it’s a huge success that we have something which is making a real difference to people lives,” he explains.
As an Operating Partner at Advent Life Sciences LLP, Simon is Executive Chairman for two portfolio companies. He is involved in every aspect of the business, including working with the research and development teams, assisting with finance, fundraising and partnering. In addition, he works with the Advent Life Sciences team to review new opportunities as they come through
Simon wants to hear from university life science, biotech, biology or chemistry researchers. “I can help you to identify where the commercial opportunities are and where there might be openings for funding in order to successfully take your company forward,” he says. You can get in touch with Simon using the contact form on this page.
“Don’t get limited by your thinking about what this industry can offer, there are lots of good opportunities,” he advises. “Even if you don’t become an entrepreneur on day one, work with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies – find out what you want to do and take your time.”
Simon believes that the most important thing Future Worlds offers is the opportunity to work with people who have direct experience of building companies in the same area.
“It is great that Future Worlds Mentors give their time and advice freely, that kind of advice is priceless,” he says. “I’m sure there are people that would charge you good money for that kind of advice, but in Future Worlds you get if for free.”