Building on the momentum

Published Apr 16, 2018

Viclink’s Dr Anne Barnett has moved from her role as General Manager, Commercialisation, and into a new role as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  

No stranger to the Intellectual Property (IP) commercialisation side of Viclink, Anne says she’s looking forward to being involved in the company's knowledge transfer services business, Accent Learning. “I can see a lot of synergy between the two functions,” she says. “This is already evidenced by opportunities that have come to one part of the business ultimately being executed by another part that is better positioned to do so. By cross-leveraging our capability, we can achieve more, and develop a breadth of activities that make us much more than a traditional university IP-licensing production house. We want to have broader impact on, and add greater value to, the university and New Zealand through smart use of our range of in-house capability.” 

As part of Anne’s transition to CEO, Geoff Todd, Viclink’s current Managing Director, will reduce his hours to half-time as he transitions towards retirement at the end of March 2019. 

“Geoff will continue to run key projects and strategic relationships for us this year, including the significant partnerships he has built for Viclink in China,” says Anne. “He has an incredible talent for spotting, and then nurturing, potential—whether it’s a business relationship or deal, a research idea or a person. He looks past what is in front of him, and instead sees what people or opportunities could become.”

Anne plans to keep the focus on nurturing capability. “Two of our staff are now CEOs of Viclink spinout companies, and we have a strong focus on developing talent not only for our own business but to help the innovation ecosystem flourish locally,” she says. “If we can continue to support our staff’s career trajectories, we’ll be helping to form the next generation of leaders, CEOs and social enterprises for New Zealand.”

In the five years since Anne joined Viclink, she has worked alongside Geoff to grow the company from a restructured, embryonic office into a respected and credible organisation with greater capability and capacity than ever before. 

“It’s a really great time to be taking on the CEO role,” says Anne. “There’s been so much growth over the past six months that we’ve had four new people start in the IP team alone!  

She says Geoff will leave an amazing legacy, having played an instrumental part in the development of a 10-year strategic plan for Viclink’s future that’s been signed off by Victoria’s Senior Management Team.  “We’ve got a very clear roadmap of where we’re headed, and excellent engagement and support right across the university, so we are well positioned to take our business up to a whole new level. 

“Our aim is to achieve the aspirational goals in the Plan that will have significant commercial, social and civic impact—not just for the university, but also for Wellington and New Zealand as a whole.”  

She sees her “challenging but fun” role as leading the team towards the achievement of those goals, continuing to provide an excellent level of service to the University while undergoing a period of rapid growth.  

In the short term, she says the company is focusing on a host of exciting new activities.  “We have a number of projects poised to spin out into new companies in the fields of biotech, pharmaceuticals, instrumentation and virtual reality. 

“We also have some exciting partnership and licensing deals in the wings with internationally renowned organisations, and a pipeline of opportunities to significantly expand our current contract activities in South East Asia, China and the Pacific.” 

Viclink will be working closely with Victoria Business School to expand hands-on entrepreneurship activities, explore opportunities to grow the existing Bootcamp programme, and engage in new local innovation programmes within the Wellington region. “It's full steam ahead!” says Anne.