Simon MacKenzie believes that communication is key to developing a successful business. “It’s like learning language and the quicker you learn how to communicate well, the better,” he explains. With more than 15 years’ experience of senior business and scientific roles, in drug discovery, innovation, business development and collaborative alliance management, Simon works to provide support services to young scientific companies and organisations as Director of S-M Consult Ltd.
He offers business development advice to enable companies to find new partners and clients, whilst also supporting drug discovery and project development. “What motivates me is having the ability to make a difference and being able to effect change within these companies is what I really enjoy,” he explains.
Whist studying for his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Glasgow, Simon worked in a marketing capacity to organise and run events and Freshers’ week campaigns. “As a scientist, it was very easy to hide away behind books,” he explains. “The skills I picked up from working in an interactive customer environment and managing people would become very useful to me in later life.”
After completing his PhD at the University of Dundee, he worked on a number of projects funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to gain scientific experience, including a lab technician position within a blood pressure unit in Glasgow. Simon feels his greatest success was with the drug discovery company Scottish Biomedical where he managed the build and fit out of all the company’s laboratories, and the recruitment of all research staff. “What started as an office with two people, is now a successful discovery company with an international clientele”.
After leaving academia, Simon found that his skills were more suited towards business management and support and he decided to take up a job offer from a small scientific startup in Glasgow. “I thought that this was a perfect opportunity to move into industry,” he explains.
Simon managed and oversaw the development of a new lab, hiring new staff and launching a new research project for a Japanese company, Kyorin Pharmaceutical Co. He was accountable for the design, negotiation and partner management of all projects being performed at the site, and for integrating the UK operations with those of the Japan and US research sites. His success in the research lab springboarded him into a new role based in Tokyo as Director of the Product Strategy Center in Kyorin’s head office where he became responsible for the promotion and pipeline enhancement of the Respiratory Disease franchise and in identifying external research partners in academia and industry.
Simon later moved back to Glasgow to become CEO for BioAscent Discovery Ltd where he created a sustainable scientific service business. “I was responsible for designing, building, and testing business models, external communication, interaction with funding agencies, building the business development infrastructure and establishing and growing global sales with pharma, biotech, research institutes and academia.” he explains.
Simon wants to hear from university startups, researchers or scientists. “I can offer support in drug discovery through my connections with pharma and biotech but can also advise on company creation, customer discovery and refining pitches for potential partners,” he says. You can get in touch with Simon using the contact form on this page.
The future of biotech will bring huge differences in how we look after patients and it is a great time to be involved in the industry. “AI will have an enormous effect on how we engage with patients and treatments will come through faster and make a bigger impact on smaller groups of patients, which will bring great new opportunities which I very much look forward to,” Simon says. In such a competitive market, Simon’s advice to entrepreneurs is to learn as many skills as possible which will make you unique and to gain as many contacts as you can.
“Every opportunity is an opportunity to increase connections as you never know when somebody might become useful to something you are doing in the future,” he explains. Simon advises that the key to being most successful in business is persistence and perseverance. “You will be faced with challenges and it can be lonely and tough to continue but having the ability to persist is particularly valuable,” he explains.