The Evaluation Committee

Nick McNaughton – CEO, ANU Connect Ventures (Chair)

Nick McNaughtonNick has a long track record of helping to build and grow software and web companies, and has been a successful angel investor, business mentor, and through Blue Cove Ventures which he established and ran between 2007 and 2012, the CEO of a successful investment fund. Building on 16 years of experience in bringing US software companies into the Pacific, Nick turned to personal and professional investment in domestic software companies in 1998, specialising in web / mobile / cloud / SaaS and Enterprise opportunities.

Nick has an Honours Degree in Computing in Business from The University Huddersfield in the UK, has an MBA from the University of South Australia and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is the immediate past Chair of Capital Angels, was a founding member of Sydney Angels, and currently sits on the Board of Entry29, a co-working space for Canberra start-ups.

Brent Chick – External Representative

Brent is the Business Development Manager responsible for the ACT Government’s Innovation Connect grant scheme (ICon), a program that provides important support to local early-stage businesses wanting to develop their ideas. As part of his 10 year experience working in the public sector at the Federal and State levels, Brent was part of the ACT Government team that helped establish the CBR Innovation Network. He maintains responsibility for on-going contract management of the Network, a key connector of the innovation services and industry in the Canberra region.

Prior to joining the ACT Government Brent worked with the Federal Department of Agriculture working in the Agricultural Productivity Division. In a variety of roles Brent worked on social policy development in regards to Indigenous Australians, women, youth and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and delivered programs to build capacity for these target groups that were part of the initiative Australia’s Farming Future. Brent also worked on Food Regulation policy, assisted in the establishment of innovation programs for regional food producers and delivered climate change adaptation programs.

Dr Fiona Nelms – Director, ANU Technology Transfer Office

Fiona Nelms is the Director of the Technology Transfer Office at the Australian National University. Fiona started in technology commercialisation in 1999 and since that time has been involved in projects from a broad range of disciplines including agri-biotech; animal health; medical and health science; and physics and engineering. Fiona has been responsible for the establishment of several spin off companies from ANU which have gone on to raise significant capital nationally and internationally.

Fiona has a PhD in Immunology from Flinders University, South Australia. She is currently on the board of nuCoria Pty Ltd, an medical device company, and PB IP Pty Ltd, the IP management company for the Plant Biosecurity CRC.

Dr Victor Pantano – Director, University of Canberra Strategic Engagement and Development

Victor is currently Director of Strategic Engagement and Development at the University of Canberra.  He most recently founded and grew, as Chief Executive Officer, Lithicon, a spin-out company from the ANU and UNSW which was sold for $76M last year to the NASDAQ listed FEI Company.  Prior to this, he was Director of Technology Transfer at the ANU and Investment Director at ANU Connect Ventures.

Victor has worked in the UK, based at the University of Warwick, leading projects in regional and economic development together with local industry and government.  He continued this work here in Australia for the Automotive CRC, founding the organisation Automotive Supplier Excellence Australia and Automotive Australia 2020.  Victor has participated in the founding of many companies and currently sits as a founding Director on a number of boards.  He has raised over $25M in investment funding for various entities.

Victor has received numerous awards for his work including the CRC Program Star Award, the Australian Museum Rio Tinto Eureka Prize for Commercialisation of Innovation and ANU Alumni of the Year (Highly Commended) – Innovation and Entrepreneurship.   He holds a First Class Honours degree in Engineering from the ANU, a degree in Chemistry and a PhD in Engineering (in the area of International Technology Transfer completed conjointly with Ford Motor Company and the ANU).

Professor Mary T Kelly, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Development and Industry), Charles Sturt University

Professor Mary Kelly was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Development and Industry) (DVC RDI) at Charles Sturt University in June 2015. Prior to taking up this position, Professor Kelly was Director, Major Grants and External Links at CSU. As DVC RDI, Mary is responsible for research; research training; partnership with industry and end-users to enhance research and maximise research impact through commercialisation and other avenues; international education; national and international education partnerships; and Indigenous education. Mary stewards the development of collaborative connections between CSU and industry, end-users and stakeholders to strengthen and expand the research agenda. Closer partnerships, underpinned by the CSU Research Narrative, are sought based on the internationally competitive nature and relevance of CSU research and provide Higher Degree by Research students with a more comprehensive training. Mary is also leading the development of the AgriSciences Research and Business Park at the Wagga Wagga campus that extends beyond the CSU research agenda and will bring research, innovation, education and employment opportunities to the region.


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