Jonathan Milner

Aug 23, 2021

From a Bucket of Ice to a World Leading Life Sciences Innovator

New Books Network 2021

Jonathan Milner was working as a postdoc in a Cambridge oncology lab when he was struck by an 'entrepreneurial seizure'. Inspired by his father, an engineer who ran a small company, he set up a venture to manufacture antibodies for biology research. Having come close to bankruptcy, Abcam is now worth £2.3 billion and renowned for its positive company culture. In this podcast, the first of two podcasts featuring Jonathan Milner, he takes us through this journey, and explains how lessons learned - as well as a single bucket of ice - turned a failing company into a world leader. 

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Jonathan, co-Founder and currently Deputy Chairman of Abcam plc, is an entrepreneur and investor and is passionate about supporting UK life science and high-tech start-ups. He has provided considerable investment and support to over 40 companies and has assisted three technology companies to IPO on the London AIM Stock exchange. Jonathan gained his doctorate in Molecular Genetics at Leicester University after graduating in Applied Biology at Bath. From 1992–95, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Bath, following which he worked at the University of Cambridge in the lab of Professor Tony Kouzarides researching the molecular basis of breast cancer. He identified the market opportunity for supplying high-quality antibodies to support protein interaction studies, and in 1998, founded Abcam with David Cleevely and Professor Tony Kouzarides. Jonathan is also a non-executive director of Repositive, HealX and Syndicate Room. He is also Chairman of Axol Bioscience, Cambridge Allergy Therapy, and PhoreMost. In 2015 Jonathan, with Professor Tony Kouzarides, co-founded the Milner Therapeutics Institute at the University of Cambridge. Also in 2015 he co-founded, with Professor Laurence Hurst, the Milner Institute for Evolution at the University of Bath. Produced by Mark Cotton, Twitter.

Podcast links:

Abcam - assay

kits, reagents, and antibodies. An innovator in reagents and tools, they

provide the research and clinical communities with tools and scientific support.

The Milner Therapeutics Institute - at the University of Cambridge is dedicated to the conversion of groundbreaking science into therapies. 18 JULY 2018COMMENT

The NBN Entrepreneurship and Leadership podcast aims to educate and entertain, sharing insights based on the stories of carefully selected guests - entrepreneurs and leaders - in the atmosphere of an informal conversation.

About the NBN
The New Books Network was founded in 2007 as a podcast interviewing the authors of academic books, and has grown to the largest author interview podcast in the world publishing 12 podcasts a day in more than 90 specialist areas, with over a million downloads a month. Read about the founder Marshall Poe and the NBN here. In recent years it has expanded beyond its “author interview origins”.

About Peter Cowley

Peter Cowley, a Cambridge university technology graduate, founded and ran over a dozen businesses in technology and property over the last 40 years. He has built up a portfolio of 75 angel investments with nine good exits (including one that is 107X his investment and returned all the cash he has invested) and thirteen failures. He is a board member of the Global Business Angel Network (GBAN), President Emeritus of the European Business Angel Network (EBAN), former chair of the Cambridge Business Angels and was UK Angel of the Year 2014. He has mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs and is on the board of nine startups.

In 2011, he founded and ran Martlet: a Corporate VC, investing (currently £10M) from the balance sheet of Marshall, a £2.5bn revenue Cambridge engineering company. He is a fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Cambridge Judge Business School and is on the investment committee of the UK Angel Co-fund. He has also had 16 years’ experience as chair, treasurer and trustee of the boards of seven charities.

With his son, Alan, Peter is sharing his and others’ experience and anecdotes in order to educate angels and entrepreneurs via The Invested Investor which publishes two books and 75+ podcasts. A selection of Invested Investor podcasts are republished here on the Entrepreneurship and Leadership channel on the NBN. This is one of them. Peter is a public speaker on entrepreneurship and angel investing throughout the world. Linkedin Peter’s webpage.

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