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.