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Meet the Panel

IRENE BREEN
FOUNDER, BELLAMOON

Irene Breen created BellaMoon®, a pregnancy, breastfeeding and attachment parenting brand specialising in pregnancy, nursing and rest systems and solutions to help aid the Motherhood journey for both mum and baby.

BellaMoon® has won numerous prestigious awards, including Junior Design Awards, a Mumsnet Best Award and appeared in Vogue Magazine, SheerLuxe, the Independent among other prestigious PR outlets.

Irene graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with an Executive MBA in 2017 and a Bachelors in Architecture in 2002 and 2006. She was selected to represented QUB with BellaMoon® at the National Santander Entrepreneurship Awards, ultimately becoming the overall winner at the National Finals in London in 2017.

Website: www.bellamoon.co

PROFESSOR EMMA FLYNN
PRO-VICE-CHANCELLOR FOR RESEARCH AND ENTERPRISE, QUB

Emma Flynn is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at Queen's University Belfast. Emma has worked at a number of universities across the UK, including Nottingham, St Andrews and Durham. Emma is a psychologist by training; through her research, which looks at the production and transmission of innovation, she has extensive international collaborative links with biologists, philosophers, computer scientists and statisticians.

Through her current role Emma works closely with local and national bodies to develop and utilise the world-leading research produced by Queen’s to have significant disciplinary, societal, environmental and economic impact.  She has academic leadership of delivery of the Innovation projects within the Belfast Region City Deal, which focus on clinical trials, advanced manufacturing and the use of secure, connected intelligence in the areas of One-Health and FinTech, working in partnership with regional and national bodies. She has also been a member of working groups aimed at improving  international partnerships, global talent attraction and retention, and the role of place in innovation strategies. Within the university sector she has overseen international recruitment campaigns, established integrated planning and strategy structures, and lead culture change agendas.

PROFESSOR LORRAINE MARTIN
CO-FOUNDER AND FOUNDING CEO, ProAxsis Ltd. | PROFESSOR OF BIOMOLECULAR SCIENCES, SCHOOL OF PHARMACY, QUB

Lorraine Martin is a Professor of Biomolecular Sciences within the School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast whose research is focused on chronic airways diseases, such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Her work seeks to understand underlying mechanisms of disease which has led to the identification and characterisation of novel biomarkers and innovative therapeutic strategies.

In 2013, Lorraine co-founded and was the founding CEO of ProAxsis Ltd., a spin-out from the School of Pharmacy, QUB which in the same year was the overall winner of the INVENT (Catalyst Inc.) competition. The company went on to secure significant investment and a Horizon 2020 SME Instrument award which supported the development of novel biomarker assays utilising the patented QUB ProteaseTag™ technology which had initially evolved from a Proof of Concept (Invest Northern Ireland) project. ProAxsis’ portfolio of CE-marked lab-based and point of care products have since had significant market uptake, particularly by global pharma to support new drug development. Lorraine actively supports entrepreneurial activities in Northern Ireland and encourages links with the US through a number of programmes.

In 2016, Professor Martin was awarded the Queen's University Vice-Chancellor's Research Impact Prize in recognition of the success and impact of these commercialisation and innovation activities.

Lorraine has published widely in internationally recognised peer-reviewed journals and currently holds 4 patents. She has presented her work both nationally and internationally and has held funding from the like of BBSRC, MRC, Prostate Cancer Charity, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, UK and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, USA. In addition, Professor Martin has also secured significant European funding (€8.9 M) through the INTERREG Va programme (SEUPB) to build cross-border capacity in COPD research. BREATH (Borders and REgions Airways Training Hub) is a 5-year collaborative programme between QUB, Dundalk Institute of Technology and the University of the West of Scotland and funds 25 full-time researchers across the 3 partners. BREATH has been showcased at the EU Parliament (2017) and was awarded Asthma/COPD Project of the Year at the NI Healthcare Awards (2018). In 2020, BREATH was awarded the Queen's University Vice-Chancellor's Research Culture Prize.

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PROFESSOR KAREN McCLOSKEY
DIRECTOR, QGI | PROFESSOR OF PHYSIOLOGY, SMDBS, QUB | DEPUTY DIRECTOR, PATRICK G JOHNSTON CENTRE FOR CANCER RESEARCH, QUB

Karen McCloskey is Director of the Queen’s Gender Initiative (QGI), a female-focused unit that works to advance the participation and progression of women in Queen’s. She has been an active advocate for gender equality in Queen’s since 2012 and is passionate about engendering a culture where everyone has a sense of belonging with their individual and collective contributions recognized. Karen hosted the ‘QGI STEM Innovators’ event in W5, The Odyssey Trust, in 2019 and is delighted to bring this QGI Innovation and Entrepreneurship Masterclass in 2021.

Karen is Professor of Physiology in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences (SMDBS) with a portfolio of teaching and research. Her research group works on bladder dysfunction and urological cancers, with the aim of combatting cancer while minimizing treatment side-effects on the bladder. Karen is a committed Mentor and seeks to support students, early career researchers, academics and professional services colleagues in their work and wellbeing.

DR CHRISTINA O'NEILL
CEO AND FOUNDER, VascVersa

Christina O'Neill, is the CEO and Founder of VascVersa. She has extensive experience in the vascular biology field, having worked in this area as a postdoctoral scientist at Queen’s University Belfast for over a decade. In addition, Dr O’Neill has pioneered work in isolating the vascular stem cells that underpins Angicyte technology and has been directly involved in optimising protocols for their production, expansion and characterisation. She has a keen interest in commercialisation pathways for cell therapies.

Dr O’Neill successfully led the team through the NxNW ICURe programme and was instrumental in winning an IUK grant award. She has completed several entrepreneur training programs and developed important entrepreneurial skills as she makes the transition from scientist to business leader. Recently, VascVersa have successfully completed their initial seed funding round which will allow to company to develop their cell therapy for vascular regeneration.

Website: www.vascversa.com

JUDITH TOTTEN MBE
MANAGING DIRECTOR, UPSTREAM

Judith Totten MBE, is the founder of Upstream, a business she originally established in 2011 as an independent provider of working capital funding for Northern Ireland SME’s. Prior to establishing Upstream, Judith had a long and successful career in banking, principally with Danske Bank. Upstream currently supports a wide variety of indigenous NI businesses and Judith is driven to see the alternative finance market growing exponentially in the years ahead. The most recent expansion has seen the genesis of Upstream Trade Finance – a company set up to fund the supply chain and trade purchase needs of local companies. This is a unique offering in NI and completes the working capital cycle for many businesses whereby Upstream are now providing 'end to end' finance - from 'Supplier to Buyer'. Upstream has recently taken in significant investment from US based partners, which has allowed the business to scale, and to help to support the recovery of the economy across Ireland.

Judith is also a non-exec Board Member of Invest NI, is involved in supporting and fund raising for The Princes Trust in NI. As well as being involved as a mentor / advisor to several small business owners, Judith is a respected and recognisable face throughout the province both as a provider of finance solutions for business and as a commentator on the finance market generally. Judith was awarded an MBE in 2018 for Services to Economic Development in NI. In her personal life Judith is a busy wife, mother and besotted ‘nanny’ to little Emily.

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DEIRDRE TERRINS
DIVERSITY FOCUSED VENTURE CAPITAL FUND INVESTOR

Deirdre Terrins has extensive international corporate experience with Plessey, Siemens, (Europe/US) and Xerox (US) in contracting and selling to BT, Central and Local government, systems integration projects and investment in diverse sectors. At Xerox she was instrumental in building sales at InConcert and saw it through to successful M&A exit to Tibco Inc. Her specialism is in the introduction of ‘disruptive’ technologies and the creation of new markets.

She has directed investments in start-ups and high growth companies. For Crescent Fund II LP she led on deal origination in innovative companies. She led the Crescent investments in Mail Distiller LTD. (acquired by Proofpoint Inc.), Omino Ltd (acquired by Xilinx Inc.) and Speechstorm Ltd. (acquired by Genesys). These transactions led to successful FDI coming to support regional economic development in NI.

For Crescent Fund III LP, Deirdre originated and led on 8 of the 15 portfolio companies acting as the funds Nominee Director for Analytics Engines Ltd, B9 Energy Control Ltd, Ampliphae Ltd, Flowlens Ltd, VosCuris Ltd, Humain Ltd, B9 Developments Ltd & Photonic Measurements Ltd.

Deirdre acts as Non-Executive advisor to high growth companies and mentors/coaches’ entrepreneurs and teams. She is a regular speaker and "dragon" in the angel and investment community and has a special interest in women led high potential companies. #balanceisbetter

Deirdre has sectoral expertise in FMCG, telecoms, IT, analytics/AI/ML, renewables, ecommerce, enterprise systems, power utilities, waste management infrastructure and cyber security.

She has been instrumental in fund raising with institutional, private and governmental sources and as Director on boards of companies dealing with recovery, turnaround, technology update, market pivots and organisational change.

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DR JENNY WORTHINGTON
CO-FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF SCIENCE, AXIS BIO

Jenny Worthington is Co-Founder and Director of Science at Axis Bio. She gained her PhD from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, in the area of cancer gene therapy, and worked through postdoctoral positions before establishing a research team in prostate cancer preclinical research. Jenny has used her background in cancer research and drug discovery to move into a commercial setting. Using her knowledge and experience she has nurtured excellence in a team of scientists who provide clients with an excellent preclinical service portfolio.

Website: Axis Bio | Discovery Services

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