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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


Alumni of the Department provide invaluable inspiration, guidance and practical support to the research and business students currently studying in the department. In his professional life Dr Darrin Disley has recognised the opportunity afforded by scientific advancement and applied his business and leadership skills to build a significant technology company. Despite the demands on his time in his own ventures, he is extremely generous in offering his expertise and time to help the next generation of entrepreneurs studying in the Department.

Dr Darrin M. Disley OBE

Darrin is a parallel entrepreneur, angel investor and enterprise champion. He has been involved in the start-up and growth of numerous business ventures securing over $320 million business financing from grant, angel, corporate, venture capital and public market sources as well as closing over $500 million of product, service, licensing and M&A deals.

He was the CEO and President of Horizon Discovery Group plc a company he led from a $275 thousand seed funding in March 2008 to a $113 million fund-raise at IPO (2.8X oversubscribed) exactly 6 years later.  The funds raised by the IPO set a new record for a life science company on the AIM market and were the second largest by any research tools company in a London listing.

In 2012, he was named Business Leader of the Year at the European Life Science Awards, in 2014 was named biotech and pharma Executive of the Year by Scrip and in 2015 was named UK Quoted Company Entrepreneur of the Year, Cambridge Business Person of the Year and one of the 175 Faces of Chemistry by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Darrin supports education, entrepreneurship and mentoring programs in the UK via the Professor Christopher R Lowe Carpe Diem Enterprise Fund and has backed over 30 start-up life science, technology and social enterprises. This led to him recently being conferred with a lifetime-held Queens Award for Enterprise Promotion in the 2016 birthday honours list. In 2018, he was awarded the OBE for "achievement most recently as CEO of Horizon Discovery Group and for business, enterprise and healthcare."

He is an Honorary Fellow at the Judge Business School and Enterprise Fellow at the Department of Chemical Engineering and  Biotechnology, University of Cambridge and an advisor on science and industry to the University of Salford. He is currently Director and co-founder of Avvinity Therapeutics Ltd and GeoSpock Ltd, Chairman of Desktop Genetics Ltd, Director of Celixir Ltd and HealX Ltd, Board Member of the UK Bioindustry Association, Chairman of Trustees at Footprint Cafes CIO and serves on the advisory boards of Axol Bioscience Ltd, Biotech and Money, the Cambridge Science Centre, the Cambridge Phenomenon, GeneAdviser Ltd and SimPrints.