Introducing Editorial Board member Mark Gilligan

We’re very happy to welcome new Editorial Board member Mark Gilligan in this week’s Introducing series post. He describes his unusual path from aerospace engineering to commercial successes in developing  microfluidics for an ever-increasing range of applications:

Mark studied Aerospace engineering at Cranfield, and after that worked in both Formula 1 for Benetton and Aerospace for BAe Commercial aircraft. Mark then went on to work for Pitney Bowes in the US developing franking machines and Philips in the Netherlands developing the first DVD drives. Then in 1997 Mark moved to work for a technology consulting consultancy called The Technology Partnership (TTP) and started working on the interfaces between Engineering and Life Sciences. One major project at TTP was called Myriad, and involved working in conjunction with seven pharmaceutical companies to develop highly automated robotic systems for parallel chemistry to make potential drug candidates. The outcome of this project was sold to Mettler Toledo and a new business unit was formed and built with Mark leading the R&D of that new company. Once this company was built in 2000, Mark moved into New Ventures for Mettler, investigating and acquiring businesses in automated chemistry.

In 2001 Mark left Mettler Toledo to found Syrris, which has now grown to be a world leader in cutting edge tools and technologies for synthetic chemistry, including microreactors. As Syrris grew, a number of multipurpose microfluidics technologies were developed and an increasingly diverse range of partners sought to access them. This lead to the formation of Dolomite Microfluidics in 2005, which then won a large UK government grant to create a Microfluidic Application Centre. This trend of starting new brands has carried on and now Mark is the CEO of the Blacktrace Group of companies which includes Syrris, Dolomite and a number of other brands which are all collectively focussed on Productisation of Science.

PRACTICAL MICROFLUIDICS: Mark’s interests specifically in microfluidics are around generating practical real world solutions to make microfluidics become an increasingly commercially successful technology. This is about spotting the common issues across multiple application areas and developing underlying technology and componentry to solve these issues. Together with this component focus, Mark is interested in standards around formats and interconnectivity. Mark is application area agnostic, however, microdroplets are currently a strong theme across a number of areas from molecular biology to food and drug delivery. Mark is focussed on providing workable solutions by designing, developing and arranging manufacture, marketing and sales. However, although Dolomite has its own clean rooms for prototyping of devices, Mark’s team works with many other companies for volume manufacture of microfluidic devices.

Overall,  Mark is passionate about getting new capabilities in science and technology to be used by wider and wider audiences by a focus on practical easy to use development into commercially viable products.

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