Professor Ritu Kataky

Durham University
Academic entrepreneur in the making, Professor Ritu Kataky, has been able to progress her research closer to commercialisation with Northern Accelerator’s support.

Professor Kataky’s innovative work with biofilms to control the formation and spread of bacteria will make a real-world impact in the form of smart bandage technology. This can reduce reliance on antibiotics and improve patient outcomes, by reducing the risk of disease and infection when treating wounds.

Growing up in Shillong, India, Ritu went to Loreto Convent, a girls’ school that emphasised the arts and social sciences. She was the only girl in her class to study pure science.

After undertaking undergraduate and postgraduate work at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, she completed her PhD at Newcastle University in 1987, while juggling care of two children alongside her studies.

Ritu transferred to Durham University and progressed through the ranks to become a Professor in the Department of Chemistry three years ago. She was the first female BAME Professor in her department and only the 2nd woman to hold a senior management position.

“Things are changing in the sector, more women and ethnic minorities coming through the universities are doing more to promote female scientists and encourage greater participation.”

Professor Ritu Kataky – Durham University

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Support Recieved from Northern Accelerator

Ritu received support from Northern Accelerator to develop her spin-out business idea through pre-commercialisation, including proof of concept funding and innovation assessment (business diagnostic support). As with many academics, Ritu didn’t see herself as an entrepreneur, rather viewing her prospective spin-out business as a logical step to taking her research out of the lab to make a real-world impact.

To support her in this step, Ritu will take advantage of the Executives into Business programme when her company spins out in 2021, with Northern Accelerator bringing an experienced business executive on board to lead the business through its start-up phase.

Going from Strength to Strength

Ritu believes one of the key challenges facing health and life science companies in the North East is the access to funding streams. This is something Northern Accelerator is playing a pivotal role in changing on a regional level, not least through the development of a Seed Investment Fund and future venture capital fund for university spin-outs in the region.

When her business spins out in 2021, Ritu intends to focus on the scientific consulting side of the business, concentrating on the practical application of the technology and its potential benefits for people in developing countries.

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