Professor in Entrepreneurship & Director @ CEBI, University of Malta
Prof Russell Smith began his career in business by starting a software company, whilst still studying for his PhD (RAF and King’s College, London) in the 1980s. Products from that company sold in 27 countries. In 1985 he joined the pharmaceutical industry, running international drug-development programmes in North America, Europe and Japan finally leading a team of more than 100 staff. For the last twenty years Russell has specialised in the commercialisation of intellectual property arising from academic research and the teaching & development of student entrepreneurship resulting in the development of the Incumatrix™ system of entrepreneurship. In 2012 Her Majesty, The Queen was graciously pleased to approve the Prime Minister’s recommendation that he should receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion.
LEADERSHIP. In 1999, Russell co-founded Avidex Ltd, a spin-out company from the University of Oxford and, as Managing Director, raised £1.7m in their first year of operations. Russell left Avidex in December 2000 (after the successful completion of a £10m finance round that valued the company at £25m) to take over Prolysis Ltd, another University of Oxford spin-out, as Chief Executive Officer. During his time at Prolysis he raised over £5m of venture capital and successfully restructured the company. In November 2004 Russell became Chairman of Surface Therapeutics Ltd, his third University of Oxford spin-out, leading a finance round that raised £1.5m of venture capital. All three companies have now been sold. In 2007, Russell led, as Chairman, the launch of Oxford Expression Technologies from Oxford Brookes University (where he is also Visiting Professor of Bio-Enterprise).
INNOVATION. Business Boffins Ltd was founded by Russell in order to create an educational programme for those new to enterprise and for small business owners; that programme became an accredited university course. A major trial of the programme with nearly 150 businesses over one year, and followed-up for five years, saw business failure rates dramatically reduced in comparison to national statistics. The material has now been provided to 4,000 owner-managers who, between them, have raised more than 100m euros of business funding. The programme has been licensed to a total of seven universities in the UK and abroad.
NETWORKS. From 1999 to 2008, Russell was a Founding-Director of Venturefest Ltd, the organisation that facilitates the annual conference in Oxford for entrepreneurs; he was Chairman of the Board in 2007. During his ten-year tenure he worked with regional and central government, the university sector and professional advisers to secure funding that ensured the conference remained free-of-charge for all attendees. Venturefest is now a national organisation. During the same period he oversaw, as Chairman, the creation of ‘Oxfordshire Bioscience Network (OBN)’ as a spin-out from Oxford Brookes University in collaboration with local government. Whilst in office, Russell developed for OBN the “Business for Bioscience” internet-delivered management course which was accredited by Oxford Brookes University. OBN brings together life-science companies, corporate partners and investors; it currently has more than 360 Member companies.
COMMUNICATION. Russell wrote a monthly page on business, from 2004 to 2010, for “The Independent” and his book “How to Start a Successful Business” was published in 2007 and has been re-issued with two further editions. He has also written more than 100 business plans for businesses from a variety of sectors. He is an award-winning speaker and lectures extensively at universities in England and the University of Malta on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that he has designed and written. He is an award-winning speaker and his invited lecture tours outside of the UK include Spain, Cyprus, Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Italy and Malta. Russell has also trained academics from India, Thailand, Vietnam, South Africa and Chile. He has been an adviser to politicians at HM Gov’t Ministerial level and within the Dept of Health.
STUDENTS. Russell has worked to inspire student entrepreneurship since 1999. He was an early supporter of ‘Oxford Entrepreneurs’ (OE) and delivered its ‘Boot Camp’ training for three years; OE now has more than 10,000 members. Since 2008, Russell led an annual two-day Doctoral Entrepreneurship Workshop for final-year PhD students from Warwick University and Imperial College. In 2010, he was invited by the National Council for Student Entrepreneurship (NACUE) to deliver its entrepreneurship training programmes at the Universities of Oxford, Reading and Southampton. He created the Undergraduate Module in Entrepreneurship for Oxford Brookes University and has taught on MBA programmes there since 2003 and delivered a similar module for undergraduates at Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2016. In 2012, he was asked by the University of Oxford to design, write and deliver a new Masters in Entrepreneurship programme for the University of Malta. That course has now been delivered successfully by him to 100 students over five cohorts.