sirchrisSir Chris is regarded as one of Europe’s leading biotechnology entrepreneurs.

He has a proven track record of establishing successful, high-quality science companies, 20 of which have been taken public. These companies have made substantial returns for their venture capital and institutional backers and employ more than 3,500 people. Of particular note is Chiroscience plc, started by Sir Chris with £1m in 1992 and grew to £600m by 1997 before merging with Celltech plc, which in turn has merged with UCB to create one of Europe’s flagship bioscience enterprises.

Sir Chris’s considerable contributions to the biotechnology industry have been honoured with a Knighthood in the 2001 New Year’s Honours List and an OBE in the 1995 New Year’s Honours List.

Discoveries, inventions and products
Start-ups and SMEs
Financing of scientific projects
Laboratories, pilot plants & manufacturing
Science parks and clusters
Cancer research
Stem cell research
Awards, prizes and medals
Education of young scientists
The future
Other interests




Regarded as Europe’s leading biotechnology entrepreneur by a significant margin, Professor Sir Christopher Evans has a reputation of being a pioneering and inspirational leader, a highly creative and innovative scientist with great commercial acumen and a very successful businessman on any scale and in any field.

He has created over 50 successful science companies in the UK and Europe worth over $5 billi#on and has successfully floated 20 new companies at over $1.8 billion on several stock markets around the world.

ce-53alt_69x104In addition to being a prolific serial entrepreneur, he holds several Professorships, 12 Doctor of Science degrees and over 100 scientific publications and patents on his scientific work.


His unique combination of scientific knowledge, intuitive business strategy and sponsorship of intellectual prowess has contributed to his success and underpinned his significant contribution in building the biotechnology industry in Europe. Like all exceptional leaders he has the ability to work energetically and knowledgably across many functions, to share and communicate his visions and to empower others in order to collectively achieve those shared goals.

He moves fast and with clarity – building his first successful company at the age of just 28 and in doing so created the beginnings of the UK biotechnology industry, not just in Britain but across Europe. In achieving this, he became Britain’s first and youngest bioscience millionaire, a journey that he has since repeated several times. By the age of 33 he’d floated four public companies.


Sir Chris’ businesses have employed over 3,500 people, mostly scientists, spending over $300 million each year with life sciences suppliers and with an annual salary base in excess of $200 million. He built Chiroscience plc (the UK’s flagship biotech company) with many of his own scientific ideas from scratch from $1.5 million in 1992 to some $1.0 billion of value by 1997 returning huge amounts of cash at over 240% IRR to many of his original backers including Apax, Schroders, 3i, Grosvenor as well as to Sir Chris himself. He produced even higher rates of return from the flotation of Celsis International plc in 1993; over 6,315% IRR.

Sir Chris built Merlin Biosciences in just six years into one of the largest European biomedical focused venture capital firms with over $600 million investment funds under management.

He followed this by creating Excalibur Group and he intends to grow Excalibur with a mix of new investment vehicles and Funds with significant transactions in new regions outside Europe and investing in the wider remit of general medical science and healthcare as well as biotechnology. Sir Chris is confident that the best is yet to come.

Sir Chris and his Excalibur team have been involved in completing many of Britain’s most successful biotech transactions.

Many of the companies founded by Sir Chris and his team have gone on to generate substantial value both privately and on public markets. There are thousands of media newspaper columns charting these successes.


Sir Chris’s companies are currently developing over 200 new and exciting 21st century medical projects with 80 innovative medicines in advanced human clinical trials in tens of thousands of patients in various countries around the world for a wide range of diseases. Many of these revolutionary new medicines in development are for serious diseases such as cancer, arthritis, obesity, Parkinson’s, stroke, diabetes, infections, cardiovascular, pain, arthrosclerosis, dermatology, urology and respiratory.

Sir Chris has raised over $2 billion of investment from around the world for mainly British medical research projects saving many thousands of lives each year. His companies have developed and launched a diversity of interesting new products and treatments such as: the world’s first premature infant lung surfactant; one of the safest anaesthetic epidurals; an ultra pure anti-inflammatory; a range of leading dermatology treatments; diabetic leg ulcer device; and a range of cancer and HIV diagnostic tests.

Sir Chris has always shared his unique perspectives on the world of bioscience for the wider benefit, promoting British science and enterprise by chairing and participating in numerous public sector initiatives and committees including the Prime Ministers ‘Council for Science and Technology’, the European Commission ‘BEST committee for small businesses’, the National Competitiveness Committee, finance task forces, and as a founding Trustee of NESTA, the National Endowment for Science Technology & the Arts. When Sir Chris joined NESTA as its first Trustee, it had no cash and no investments. Today it has received over £300 million funding and backed or formed over 50 businesses.

Sir Chris has advised a number of Governments – both main UK political parties and overseas administrations – on building sustainable biotechnology sectors, contributing to the well-proven ‘cluster’ model, championing the introduction of special tax structures to stimulate entrepreneurship and investment and sharing his wide experience of corporate governance, entrepreneurial stewardship and healthcare ethics into significant public policy guidelines. He currently chairs the Welsh Life Sciences Sector Panel for which he recently launched a £100m new Fund.


At the age of 36 he was awarded an OBE for services to biosciences by John Major’s conservative government and at 42 he received a knighthood from Tony Blair’s Labour government. He has helped raise over £1 billion cash for investment into cancer research projects backing 40 cancer areas based on 20 different mechanisms of action in 12 different cancer companies.

He was the first entrepreneur and investor in Europe to pioneer stem cell technology back in 1996, many years before anyone knew what wonderful things these cells could do.

Throughout his career he has collected numerous prestigious business and scientific awards including the BVCA Cartier FT Venturer Award, the SCI Centenary Medal, the RSC Interdisciplinary medal, the Henderson Memorial Medal, the BTG-DTI Best Business Award and Cambridge Businessman of the Year on two occasions. Many of the companies he has founded have also gone on to be recognised as leaders in their fields, being awarded many prizes and accolades including Queens Awards and Enterprise Awards for product innovation and business and technical successes.

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After 30 years working in the medical and biotechnology industry Sir Chris remains an exceptional and active industry participant – taking risks, building businesses and inspiring others to follow his lead and in 2008 The Daily Telegraph’s Power List Survey put Sir Chris in the Top Ten Most Powerful and Influential Men in UK Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare.  In 2012, the much heralded Fierce Biotech included Sir Chris in the 25 most influential people in world biotechnology.


He also created Britain’s first sustainably profitable bioscience company, Celsis International plc, now with sales of over $70 million pa and which has now sold over 200 million rapid tests worldwide to groups like Colgate Palmolive, Unilever, Kraft, Roche, Merck, GSK, Tropicana and Proctor & Gamble.

Sir Chris has built many new high-tech FDA and GMP regulated manufacturing plants for producing a range of new chemicals, enzymes, diagnostics, cell therapeutics, gene medicines, stem cells, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.


Sir Chris’ entrepreneurial activities are not limited to medical science. He created Britain’s biggest independent vehicle security technology company, Toad plc, with $50 million sales and 60 drive-in national centres which fitted out over 6 million British cars with its range of innovative security and electronic products.

bushcraft_companiy_120x80He is currently in the process of building up Britain’s leading outdoor educational “bushcraft” company to bring a whole new dimension of teaching a wide range of confidence – building and outdoor leadership skills to children from all types of backgrounds.

Sir Chris’s own success and that of his companies, has created scores of new multi-millionaires in the UK who in turn have created their own businesses cumulatively worth $billions and employing tens of thousands of people contributing substantially to the community and economy of Britain with their supply base, salaries and value creation.


In the last few years alone Sir Chris has raised nearly $0.5 billion of co-investment for Merlin’s projects around the world. In 2007, he built Sultan Scientific, a new seed investment advisory boutique which has itself now created an attractive portfolio of new healthcare and environmental companies.

Sir Chris is one of the few British scientists to successfully bridge the gap between academia and the market for innovative science products and is consistently raising City financing for long-term, high risk science projects.

His company achievements included Chiroscience which was eventually sold for over $650m, Celsis for $100m, Arakis for over $187m, Piramed for $185m and Biovex for $1bn.

Sir Chris’s successful formula has inspired huge numbers of young aspiring scientists around the world to work in, or create their own, small scientific enterprises. Sir Chris has made it exciting and rewarding to be a scientist. He has been, and continues to be, an inspiring role model and ambassador for young entrepreneurs delivering success after success through his visionary projects and his limitless energy and enthusiasm for taking risks and getting results.


Using the experience he gained in the US, he built his first company Enzymatix, at the age of only 28 to kick start the UK biotechnology sector in the 1980s making him Britain’s first and youngest bioscience millionaire and creating one of the first true start-up biotech businesses anywhere in Europe had created and floated four British companies on the London Stock Exchange, the shares in one of which, Chiroscience plc, went on to be worth over $1.5 billion as part of Celltech plc in the year 2000 and he was unquestionably Britain’s first true serial science entrepreneur.

Fundamental to Sir Chris’ success is his strong understanding of science. Sir Chris is a highly regarded bioscientist with a first degree in Microbiology, a PhD in Biochemistry, Research Fellowships in Molecular Biology and holds several Professorships in prestigious universities. Some of the innovative products on whose patents he is a named party have sold for many $100s millions per annum.

Since 1996, Sir Chris has been instrumental in supporting the university spin-out process and entrepreneurial culture in the UK by creating exciting and successful UK Bioscience companies including Microscience- Imperial College London, Cyclacel – University of Dundee, Pantherix – Glasgow University, ReNeuron – Kings College London, Vectura – University of Bath, Ark – University College London, Onyvax – St Georges Hospital, London, Ardana – University of Edinburgh, Intercytex – University of Manchester and Piramed – University College London.

While most of the companies he has built to date have been British or European in origin the market for their products and services is truly global. Therefore a number have been sold or transferred to the US and Middle East and he has done more than any other individual in the UK to promote British science and enterprise overseas by high profile presentations and media interviews both in a personal capacity but also as a representative of the UK government and the European Commission.

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cte_presenting_135x89Sir Chris is renowned for his passion and sense of humour in delivering highly motivational speeches full of inspirational ideas and business tips for budding entrepreneurs. His outspoken nature has found popularity with young and old alike as he is seen as a catalyst for change as well as an exuberant ambassador for life sciences. Countless new businesses have started up as a result of his infectious presentations around the country. He donates all of the payments and honorariums from his speaking engagements to specific children’s medical charities (e.g. Great Ormond Street).

Sir Chris has managed to maintain a consistently high profile (which is remarkable for a British scientist) in the international business media for over 24 years. Often referred to as “irrepressible” and “prolific” as rarely a year goes by when he hasn’t launched yet another successful company, completed a major deal or started a new initiative. He always somehow manages to keep science and enterprise high on the media’s agenda in Europe.


Never afraid to back innovative science, Sir Chris is by far and away the leading pioneer of financing of stem cell science companies in the UK. ReNeReNeuron Vials on Iceuron, is the world’s first team to produce stable, fully functional human neuronal stem cells in the laboratory, not through extraction. Pioneering clinical trials to reverse brain damage caused through stroke commenceStem Cellsd in late 2010 with injections of ReNeuron’s unique stem cells. Of the total investment gone 3-stem_cells_119x119into all UK stem cell companies to date, some $100million came from Sir Chris’ efforts over many years. ReNeuron is now a well established public company and Britain and Europe’s most successful stem cell project to date.

In 2009 he established Virgin Health Bank (“VHB”), his umbilical cord stem cell collection business, in partnership with Sir Richard Branson. It is now chaired by the visionary, Dr Tidu Maini and based on the Qatar Science and Technology Park in Doha having received $13 million backing from Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned. VHB now has one of the best quality stem cell collection services in the world and intends to extend its offering to many other countries.

Sir Chris is also the visionary behind the UK Stem Cell Foundation for Clinical Stem Cell Development, a unique initiative and Britain’s first official stem cell charity. Some of the Trustees included great luminaries such as Lord Robert Winston, Sir Richard Sykes, Lady Mary Archer, Professor Steve Jones and Lord Bob May, ex chief scientist to PM Tony Blair. He raised an initial £14 million to back a number of unique adult stem cell programmes, including Professor John Martin’s heart attack trials at UCL. The UK SCF was ear marked by Gordon Brown through the Pattison Report as the vehicle to catalyse the investment of £100 million new funding into further clinical trials of UK stem cell products ahead of the USA. Sir Chris retired from the Charity in 2006.

Sir Chris is a well known international figure who has already assisted the Prime Ministers of four British governments including Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown over a 21 year period. He is ready to assist David Cameron’s new government in due course as Sir Chris has frequently stated publicly that Britain’s biomedical industry is in need of a serious overhaul after the collapse of the British economy in the recession of 2008. He is currently advising the Maltese Prime Minister, Lawrence Gonzi, on establishing a life sciences industry in Malta and he is Chairman of BioMalta. He also advises Carwyn Jones’ Welsh Government on biosciences and recently raised a £100m Life Sciences Fund.

Sir Chris now intends to expand Excalibur’s presence in medical science and healthcare into more international territories whilst staying at the forefront of developments in the world’s biomedical industry. He is the true pioneer and entrepreneurial father of the British and European biomedical sector and is committed to remain in its vanguard for years to come.

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Discoveries, inventions and products


Sir Chris is a highly talented and accomplished scientist with many discoveries, inventions and product innovations to his name.  He has published over 100 scientific research papers, patents and book chapters on his earlier work and has Professorships, Fellowships and Doctor of Science degrees at some 16 British universities.  He has helped develop and finance over 20 innovative products.


The creativity of his own scientific endeavour has spilled over into many of the new and successful scientific businesses he has built over the years using his entrepreneurial experience.  These teams of scientists have been motivated and financed by Sir Chris to successfully produce new and exciting products.

Sir Chris, the scientist, continues to stay abreast of all significant scientific developments in medical science.  He is an avid reader of New Scientist and science magazines plus he regularly receives Biocentury, Scrip and numerous magazines through his fellowships of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Biology etc.  Most relevant of all are the hundreds of business plans describing cutting edge new technologies and products involving stem cells, gene medicine, pharmaeogenomics, drug delivery, nanoscience and medical devices.  These plans are all read by Sir Chris keeping him fully up to speed with 21st Century innovation in medical sciences.


Start-ups and SMEs


There are few biomedical scientists and entrepreneurs in the world who have Start ups and SME’s first picturecreated more viable and successful start-ups and built more scientific small medium enterprises (SMEs) than Sir Chris during his career.  He has been responsible for developing over 50 new businesses.  What is important here is how he has built all of these businesses from nothing to different value levels in their markets e.g. something built from zero to $10m revenues or $10m value and then sold on or merged would be considered a real commercial success by many entrepreneurs. But, he has built many companies to $50m, to $100m, to $150m, to $300m to $500m and one over $1bn in valuation.

He has produced successful IPOs of 20 of these new companies on six different stock markets around the world – London’s AIM, LSE, NASDAQ, SIX Swiss Stock Exchange, Frankfurt and TSE Tokyo Stock Exchange, with a cumulative value of nearly $2bn.

Many of Sir Chris’s companies have become role models over the years.  They were all, at one time, start-ups and SMEs.  They all required multiple rounds of investment, recruitment and education of customers, management teams and creation of operational processes.  Sir Chris and his own Merlin team have recruited over 400 different directors for the boards and operations of these scientific businesses.  Sir Chris has always cited the difficulty in building effective and harmonious, quality management teams as the single biggest contributor to the success or failure of these SME’s.  Many entrepreneurs and venture capitalists agree with this view.

Article: “Biotech Start-up Fund to Invest up to £50m”

It was Sir Chris who convinced the Stock Exchange in 1992 to change some of its entrenched Yellow Book rules to enable young, high growth, but non-profitable, SME’s to access the stock markets for finance. The successful flotation of Celsis for £50m was heralded as a watershed by many in the industry in Europe. This was quickly followed by the flotation of Chiroscience plc at £100m and a raft of other scientific SME’s followed suit according to the redrafted Stock Exchange rules.

Besides giving hundreds of motivational and practical presentations to small business clubs around the world, Sir Chris has often stood up as a unprecedented spokesman for SMEs and new enterprise in the British press and, in particular, with successive governments in order to persuade and effect positive change. His lobbying and in depth, hands-on experience of financial and fund raising pressures faced by all SME’s led to the substantial reduction in Capital Gains Tax (CGT) from 40% to 10% by PM Tony Blair’s government. This reduction was designed, in particular, to galvanise investors to risk more money by investing in early stage SME’s.

Article: “Evans scores a hat trick with his market formula”

Sir Chris was later appointed in 1999 by PM Tony Blair to Chair the prestigious European Business and Environment Simplification Task Force (BEST) in Brussels for two years.  Sir Chris’ Committee consisted of 14 leading entrepreneurs from each of the major European countries.  This vibrant and dynamic group examined all of the issues and barriers to growth affecting all 17 million SME’s in Europe. Over 20 million copies of the final report and recommendations were published in 2002 and circulated across 20 countries.

Sir Chris’ Merlin Ventures won the government’s first series of financial mentoring awards in 1997 for its creation and hands on management of a string of university spin-out SME’s. Sir Chris was involved in a number of the UK’s early SME incubator projects in Cambridge, Manchester, Nottingham and elsewhere.  He has given hundreds of lectures and seminars on how to build successful start-ups and SME’s and contributed to many books and initiatives aimed at educating the would-be entrepreneurs of Britain.

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Financing of scientific projects


When Sir Chris set out in 1987 to build Enzymatix, there was very little financeGold coins available at all in the UK for genuine start-up scientific enterprises.  There were a handful of venture capitalists based in London such as Rothschilds and Abingworth, who primarily backed US based biomedical companies where there were lots of emerging businesses and co-investors to de-risk the situation.  The UK was a pretty barren place for a one-man band start-up.  Nevertheless, Sir Chris received his initial backing for Enzymatix of $1.8m from an adventurous British Sugar and by 1992 he had spun out both Celsis, with a $0.6m backing from Grosvenor Ventures, and $5m backing for Chiroscience from Schroders, Apax and 3i;  these two companies went on to be worth over $300m within 2 years.

Article: “Chrios £70m deal key to worldwide markets”

However, in 1993, Sir Chris realised that to stand any chance of seriously competing with the emerging US biotech industry, the UK had to allow access for early stage scientific businesses to the stock market.  Later in 1992, a substantial spin out from GD Searle, British Biotech, had been allowed to float because of its advanced 6_biovex_ts_118x177pharmaceutical pipeline.  But, the rules of admission did not work for Biovex tombstoneothers doing pharma research, diagnostics and medical technology.  So, in early 1993, Sir Chris set about assisting the London Stock Exchange in amending its Yellow Book of Rules for admission to the Stock Exchange of diagnostic, medtech and the whole diversity of medical science growth companies.  In the following 12 months, Sir Chris alone raised over £100m in financing through new IPO’s.  Many other small British Bioscience firms followed in his footsteps with their own IPOs and so the UK public biotech sector was borne.

Interestingly, there were also no public biotechs in any other country in Europe; through Sir Chris’ efforts, Britain was by far and away the leader in this field in Europe.  Both Germany and France had excellent science bases and were keen to catch up with Britain.  Also The Netherlands and Scandinavia were quick off the mark and so the European life sciences industry was truly born in the 1990s with many countries following Sir Chris and Britain’s lead in the financing of new bioscience businesses.

Whilst the 1990s saw the emergence of the bioscience public markets with a plentiful supply of finance, Sir Chris observed the complete dearth of early-stage investment in Britain.  There were almost no seed capital investors and angels and high net worth investors were very thin on the ground in the 1990’s for loss making biotech.

From 1997 to date, Merlin has been inundated with requests for seed capital.  Over 1,000 early stage business plans a year flood into Merlin offices seeking £0.5m-£3m finance.  Sir Chris and his Merlin team created a raft of new, very high quality biotech companies from scratch using the Merlin see capital funds.


Sir Chris has now raised over $700m in Funds under management for biotech investing directly and raised over $1bn in co-investment syndicates of over 100 experienced investors.  He has achieved IPO’s on different stock markets aroundStock Market the world, his collection of businesses grew to over $5bn from scratch with over $300m p.a. of revenues and some $1bn of partnership deals done with big pharma companies.  A $6bn UK biotech industry grew from these early beginnings by Sir Chris and a $20bn European biotech sector peaked by 2001.  Many $ billions of cash has been invested and continues to be invested every year in European biotech companies.  Sir Chris not only pioneered the way with the financing of his own start-ups, but also trail blazed the IPO paths, established the true art of seed financing by fund managers and achieved substantial corporate investing through partnership deals with large companies.  Some of these deals and IPO’s have led to enormous cash exits and returns for investors culminating in the $ billions over the years.

Laboratories, pilot plants & manufacturing


Sir Chris began building and equipping his first laboratories in 1984 whilst a research manager with Allelix Inc, Canada’s foremost biotechnology company at that time.  He did the same for Genzyme Inc in 1986.  Since then, he has built all of his own companies from scratch, and in which over 250 different laboratories have been constructed, enzyme and protein work, chiral synthesis, organic chemistry, analytical, microbiology, GLP and GMP regulated laboratories, cloning and molecular biology, pilot plant fermentation facilities, scale-up preparatory chemistry plants, production plant for manufacture of multi-kilo and multi-tonne quantities of FDA approved chiral sythons, enzyme formulations, lung surfactants, phospholipid components, NCE’s, diagnostic kits and reagents, medical devices, biologics and therapeutic stem cells.  These various laboratories, scale-up centres and production plants have required installation pilot_plant_8__215x150of an enormous diversity Pilot plant 3of modern technical equipment and deployment of skilled operating personnel over the last 25 years.  Some examples of what has been built  have been drawn from the various companies built bny Sir Chris over the years.  These include Enzymatix, Celsis, Chiroscience, Enviros, Neuropharm, Cyclacel, Biovex, Pantherix, Microscience, ReNeuron, Kindertec, Ark, Vectura, Intercytex, Wilex, Santhera, Lidco, CBT, Derms, Lab 21, Decon, VHB, Piramed, Energist, Arakis, Plethora and several others.


A number of the unique pilot plant and production processpilot plant 4es established in the sorts of facilities described above have, over the years, been transferred and translated to other, larger sub-contractors or customers’ own production facilities e.g. Menarini Spa produced tonne quantities of S-ketoprofen; MacFarlan Smith produced hundreds kilo units of sterile phospholipids and lung surfactant; Ascot and Dow Chemicals produced tonne quantities of single isomer γ-lactam to supply Glaxo, amongst others; Angel Biotech in Scotland currently manufacture the clinical trial batches of human stem cells for ReNeuron.  Several of Sir Chris’ companies e.g. Celsis International, Lab 21, Energist, Vectura etc continue to produce 100’s millions of units of their own novel formulations and products through their own established larger scale facilities.


Science parks and clusters

Sir Chris was single handedly responsible for catalysing the original plans and development of the Babraham Science Park, near Cambridge and for creating the first of many biotech companies to colonise the larger and now famous Trinity Science Park in Cambridge.  In doing so all those years ago, Sir Chris underpinned the beginning of the great Cambridge cluster.



Back in 1987, Professor Sir Chris was a young scientific entrepreneur “Dr Evans” in those days and of modest means.  His first laboratory was a rather crumbling disused animal shed on the Babraham agricultural site belonging to the government, AFRC.  He converted these tired buildings into his fully functioning, modern day biotechnology laboratory and the beginning of a new era.

For the next three years, Sir Chris’ Enzymatix was the only company to operate on the site and it was here that Enzymatix Lab Chris began to develop the artificial lung surfactant medicine, de x ketoprofen drug, chiral gamma lactam synthon, therapeutic phospholipids and numerous clinical diagnostic tests.  Eventually, the Babraham site was transformed into a 21st Century science park with numerous new life sciences companies set to follow in Sir Chris’ footsteps.


Enzymatix eventually relocated to the main Trinity Science Park in the heart of Cambridge itself.  Here Sir Chris established his headquarters for many years and built other very successful businesses such as Chiroscience plc and Celsis International plc on the Science Park.

Many companies from a variety of sectors including IT, telecommunications etc, as well as more medical companies, followed Sir Chris’ lead onto the main Science Park.  The successful flotation of many of these Cambridge companies on the UK Stock Exchange e.g. Celsis (1993), Chiroscience (1994), Toad (1995), Cantab (1995), Ionica (1998), Cambridge Antibody Tech (1997), Abcam (2005), CSR (1999) etc, led to the emergence of the now famous Cambridge cluster.  Many hundreds of new businesses have been started and successfully grown in Cambridge making it a 21st Century hotbed of technology businesses.

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Other cities around the UK including Oxford, Manchester, Leeds, York, Nottingham, Glasgow etc began following the Cambridge phenomenon.  Sir Chris was invited to all of the launches of these science and bio-incubator parks around the UK. Sir Chris, HRH Duke of Edinburgh and various government ministers were asked to speak at many of these launch ceremonies.


Sir Chris also assisted Tony Blair’s government in studying the importance of developing bioscience clusters in the UK.  He accompanied the Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury, on numerous trips to Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston, Japan, Netherlands, Germany and Singapore to study what was happening on the ground in the emerging clusters.  Numerous reports were published on the findings.


Cancer research

From the early days of Chiroscience in 1993, Sir Chris has been heavily involved in assembling new cancer research programmes and organising all of the required finance for these companies and projects over many years.  To date, there are 12 of Sir Chris’ companies that carry out a lot of cancer research work and for which he has helped raise substantial finance, both private and public investment.

Over $1000 million ($1 billion) of cash has been raised for these cancer research projects by Sir Chris and his colleagues over the years.

Cancer is a devastating disease that touches everyone. In the face of this overwhelming crisis, we have leveraged our connections in many areas so that researchers discovering novel approaches to combat cancer have the necessary funding to ensure that potential life saving products have a chance to reach clinical trials and eventually the patients that so desperately need them.

Like diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the modern world, cancer is beginning to become a more chronic, manageable disease rather than the death sentence of old.  This is particularly the case when early screening and detection systems are deployed.  Sales of cancer treatment products currently exceed $50 billion worldwide.  The holy grail of the cancer research industry is to develop products that specifically target and completely destroy cancer cells without affecting the surrounding healthy cells, thereby causing few, if any, side effects.  One of Merlin’s first cancer research investments was Cyclacel, founded on the pioneering work of Professor David Lane on the p53 pathway and general cellular signalling in cell cycle progression in cancer cells.  A later investment was Piramed which focused on anti-tumour kinase inhibitors in cancer cell function.  Cyclacel is now listed on NASDAQ at $90m and Piramed was sold to Roche in 2009 for $185m cash.

Stem cell research

In the early 1990s, there were no stem cell research companies anywhere in the world. No one had really heard of stem cells nor knew much about what they were, where they came from or what they could do in medicine. Whilst there were one or two small early academic research groups in the UK and US, there were certainly European investors, no venture capital firms noe business angels who had a faintest clue about the potential of stem cell research and so had not invested at all in this space.

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3-10280__175x156In 1996, in one of the boldest British venture capital investments ever, Sir Chris backed Professor Gray at the London Institute of Psychiatry and created ReNeuron with a £5m investment to develop stem cell medicines. This was Britain and Europe’s first ever stem cell company.  The group’s initial focus was on manipulating stem cells to generate new neurons and brain cells to reverse damage to brain tissue such as is caused by stroke. Today, ReNeuron is a $65m public company which has been granted the world’s first regulatory permission to inject laboratory produced human stem cells into the brains of human stroke patients in an attempt to reverse the damage caused by this debilitating illness. Clinical trials and injections directly into the stroke patients brains commenced in December 2010.3_reneuron_lab_testing_166x165

The UK has continued to embrace the promise of stem cell research to deliver important cell based therapies and, thanks to the very high profile presentations and press interviews given by Sir Chris, others have been able to follow in ReNeuron’s footsteps and secure funding for their stem cell work. In recent years, the US has invested particularly large sums in this field and shows no sign of slowing down.


However, a critical funding gap became evident in the UK several years ago. Sir Chris was the first to stand up and point out to the UK government that breakthroughs emerging from UK stem cell research were not being developed in the clinic in the UK for eventual benefit to the UK economy.  In a valiant attempt to help fill this gap, Sir Chris formed the UK Stem Cell Foundation – a charity and public-private partnership to raise the necessary cash investment to back early stage stem cell developments that show true promise.


Sir Chris had assembled possibly the highest profile Board of Trustees ever to grace a new charitable initiative. Initial funding for £14m was raised from philanthropic individuals and government bodies, in particular the London Development Agency.  In 2005, Gordon Brown announced the set up of the Pattison Committee based on Sir Chris’ Stem Cell Foundation initiatives.  The final Pattison Report recommended that £100m should eventually be channelled through the UKSCF and MRC in order to properly satisfy the needs of British stem cell researchers with promising projects.

Awards, prizes and medals


Sir Chris has probably collected more prestigious business and science awards and prizes in his career then any other scientific entrepreneur of his era.  He was the youngest ever recipient of the SCI Centenary Medal for his pioneering work in biosciences. At 36, he was one of the youngest scientists to receive an OBE from the Queen.  He was a relatively young 42 when he received his knighthood.  He won the BVCA Cartier FT Venturer Award and first prize in both the National Business Enterprise competition (1989) and the National Enterprise Top 100 Entrepreneurs (2000).

Besides the fact that all of these awards, prizes and medals were very fitting for Sir Chris’ many achievements, they also significantly enhanced the general profile of scientific entrepreneurs and scientific success in the UK. No longer were British scientists perceived as relatively low key eccentric individuals hidden away in dim laboratories someplace. Instead, Sir Chris created some excitement, some colour, glamour and sense of financial as well as scientific achievement. This sort of recognition was important in motivating others to step out of the laboratories and shadows and to make a go of it.


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Education of young scientists


Education of school children is a topic close to Sir Chris’s heart.  Whilst he has given many hundreds of high powered lectures and seminars to top scientists, entrepreneurs and business leaders on how to properly commercialise science and build successful new businesses, he has consistently shown his passion for exciting and enthusing children about science and technology for over 25 years.  He has probably done more to stimulate and motivate the new young scientists and entrepreneurs of tomorrow than any other medical scientist in Britain with his extremely colourful, humorous, interesting and understandable presentations on the science behind his products and the commercial and financial aspects of his work over the years.


In 2002, Sir Chris was asked to give the Science Year Lecture at The Natural History Museum to thousands of young teenage school children interested in a career in science.  HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, gave a colourful introduction to Sir Chris, the entrepreneur, Lord David Puttnam, Chairman of NESTA sponsored the evening and Sir Chris invited along to sit in the front row the ten people who had most influenced his development from a young scientist to one of the world’s leading biotech entrepreneurs.  It all made for a fascinating evening’s lecture and the school children were enthralled.

audience_-_children_202x144Sir Chris always takes along a box of some of his research-based and commercial cte_presenting_158x104products for the children to see and hold.  It is often difficult for children to visualise the final substance and form that different medical breakthroughs translate into.  Sir Chris demystifies all this by handing around vials and bottles of final product medicines and medical advances, be they novel anti-cancer chemicals, gene therapy vaccines or revolutionary human stem cell therapeutic formulations.

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Sir Chris uses the power of imagery and photographs rather than words to best illustrate to the students and the school teachers how a youngster interested in science can travel a varied and exciting career path to the top:

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Over the years, Sir Chris has received many thousands of letters from both children and teachers following his lectures.  Some extracts:


The future


Sir Chris has a very clear vision of his own future as both a creative scientist and an entrepreneurial businessman.  Although he has achieved “two or three lifetimes” worth of success in many people eyes, he has no urge to put his feet up and retire and he is still, remarkably, only 53 years of age.  He feels he is now right on top of his game, possibly at the pinnacle of his career, and with so much energy and experience to impart to others.  He has incredibly large networks around the world and many powerful contacts across many walks of life.  Being such a high profile and charismatic individual, he naturally attracts a seemingly endless pipeline of new deals and attractive opportunities in both science and business.  The future pipeline contains deals in prosthetics, radiotherapy, cardiotoxicity testing, clinical support systems, remote and physiological monitoring, diagnostics, oncology therapeutics, wound care, dental technologies, diabetes, drug dispensing and compliance, biobanking and stem cell therapies.  These are just some of the exciting areas under review by Sir Chris.


Sir Chris has had a glittering array of jobs.  He has been the creative laboratory scientist, playing both the professional Research Director and Chief Scientist roles.  He has been the brave, lone entrepreneur and the Chief Executive business leader.  He has for a long time been the serial entrepreneur, the serial Chairman and the serial Non-Executive Director.  And he has long been the business angel backer, the venture capitalist investor and the prolific fund manager.  He has invented unique things, developed brilliant products, spun out clever university companies, built brand new start-ups, floated and sold mature businesses and grown ideas from nothing to flourishing FTSE companies.  He has even catalysed the formation of science parks, clusters and even the biotech sector!


So, what’s next?  Sir Chris likes nothing more than to build things that are real, that work and that last.  He wants to bring all of his skills and experience and networks in medical science into play in new situations.  Of course he will always have an eye on that brand new breakthrough or innovation in medicine and he will increasingly look at building interdisciplinary projects using computing, internet, microchips, telecoms and nano technology in conjunction with his immense knowledge of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical sciences in general.


In future, Sir Chris believes, as well as continuing the ply his trade in the UK, Europe and US, he can greatly assist certain Middle Eastern and African countries as well as China to “quickly get up the curve” of modern day medical science and hugely improve the quality of life of their peoples.  Sir Chris firmly believes that if capital is deployed properly, in a focused and responsible manner and in conjunction with top quality expertise such as his own, then countries who are still 10 or 15 years behind the Western leaders in human healthcare can rapidly begin to enjoy the fruits of the 21st Century medical and technological revolution.  He knows he can make a big difference in these countries and build up medical infrastructure, business and assets that will last.  Sir Chris likes the idea of this “big challenge” and that is exactly what he will seek to do!

“Science, Innovation and Enterprise”


Other interests


Besides Sir Chris’s devotion to his medical science and business interests and his overwhelming passion for enterprise and entrepreneurship, he somehow finds time to pack in a myriad of activities and interests.  He is renowned for his energy and drive which is helped by his general fitness where he works out five or six times a week in gyms or running through towns and villages.  In his youth, he was a very active rugby and soccer player and enjoyed his cricket, athletics and swimming.  He accumulated numerous medals for his many efforts.  His most recent activity was running the New York Marathon (despite a badly torn calf muscle) in a decent time of 4.16hrs and typically refusing to give up!  He has been a passionate follower of Welsh rugby all his life – a passion that will never diminish.


He prides himself of possessing limitless energy, both in work and leisure, and is always ready for the next thing whatever it may be.  He has been an experienced fisherman in both sea and river for most of his life and is also an accomplished shotgun and rifleman.  His annual Cotswold based shoot dinners are now legendary as are his enormous collection of rifles and swords.

Sir Chris also has a passion for collecting fine wines as well as antiquated scientific books and equipment.  His home and offices are peppered with beautiful and fascinating ancient science artefacts and antiquities.


Despite all of his work pressures and sports activities, Sir Chris also finds time for relaxation playing his various guitars where he enjoys creating new songs and CDs with his vocalist daughter.  But besides all of these things, he still manages to spend plenty of time with his whole family, enjoying their home with many pets, including cats, dogs, horses, chickens, salt water acquaria and parrots!

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