Professor Che Connon

Newcastle University
Professor Che Connon is a serial academic entrepreneur, spinning out three companies from Newcastle University and bridging the gap between academia and private enterprise.

Professor Che Connon is a serial academic entrepreneur, spinning out three companies from Newcastle University and bridging the gap between academia and private enterprise.

Originally a career academic, Professor Connon held senior posts at the Universities of Reading and Cardiff, before moving to Newcastle University to become Professor of Tissue Engineering in 2014.

As part of his work with the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle’s International Centre for Life, he discovered he had a talent for identifying the commercial potential of academic research.

To date he has founded three successful spin-out businesses using his combination of academic expertise and commercial acumen: Atelerix in 2017, and then 3D Bio-Tissues and CellulaREvolution in 2019.

Following this success, he was appointed Director of Business Development at Newcastle University in 2020, where he leads on various aspects of enterprise and spin-out company formation.

“I’ve always seen myself as an academic and I like to think I have a keen eye for commercial opportunities. Combining academia with the cut and thrust of business, I was driven by my passion for identifying research that solves real-world problems.

“Juggling the combined demands of being a university professor and a businessman is no mean feat. But the Executive’s into Business programme provided us with the dynamic leadership team we needed to grow and flourish in the commercial world.”

Professor Che Connon – Newcastle University

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Support Recieved from Northern Accelerator

Che’s first spin-out Atelerix received support from the Executives into Business programme, providing them with their current CEO, Mick McClean, who has been instrumental in driving their international growth plans.

His next venture, 3D BioTissues benefitted from Innovation Assessment Funding, providing a detailed assessment of the business’s commercial potential to ensure market readiness.

Che’s third spin-out, CellulaREvolution, received financial help via Northern Accelerator’s proof of concept funding scheme, which helped steer the prospective spin-out through the early commercialisation process.

Northern Accelerator also helped to appoint strong leadership counsel through the Executives into Business programme, introducing Leo Groenewegen as CellulaREvolution’s CEO to run the company.

Going from Strength to Strength

Having lived all over the UK, Che firmly believes that the North East has solid entrepreneurial potential. He said, “In the North East we shouldn’t see ourselves as limited by geography. We have a wealth of opportunity on our doorstep and a fantastic university research base to draw on for homegrown talent.”

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