Executive Director Designate Programme

The Executive Director Designate Programme (EDDP) was set up by the University to:

  • increase the number of spin-out companies
  • improve chances of raising seed funding for these spin-out companies
  • in the longer term, improve chances of returns for shareholders in these companies, including the University

The EDDP and its predecessor funded projects at Strathclyde and elsewhere in Scotland from 2004 through to 2016. Although the scheme is not formally funded at present, it continues to represent the model for how Strathclyde prefers to contract with prospective Executive Directors of prospective spin-out companies.

How it worked

The EDDP funded contracts with Executive Director Designates (EDDs). Each EDD worked with an opportunity team proposing to spin out a company to commercialise University-owned technology.

The programme allowed the University to pay consultancy fees of individuals sourced from outside the University, or buy out the time of academics, to allow them to focus on spinning out these companies.

The EDDP could fund CEO, Sales Director, Technical Director, Finance Director and Executive Chairman Designates. The EDDP sometimes funded more than one individual for an opportunity.

An EDD was contracted for a pre-start spin-out only after an approved Endorsement (see Endorsement Process). The identity of the appointee, and the nature of the role, had to be agreed by both the Opportunity Team and RKES.

The usual length of contract with an EDD was six months, pre-formation only, and EDDs were typically appointed on the basis that it should be possible to launch the relevant spin-out shortly after this time period. Payment was on the basis of a monthly fee. Contracts were terminated if in the view of the EDD, the academic team, or RKES, the process no longer appeared likely to result in a spin-out.

The choice of the preferred candidate was based upon:

  • chemistry with the opportunity team
  • relevance of experience
  • likely attractiveness as Executive Director of spin-out to potential funders
  • willingness to engage with the University at budgeted fee level, on basis of fee well below conventional consulting day rates
  • long-term commitment, and a desire for a shareholding in a growth technology company
  • appropriate due diligence being carried out by RKES (track record with early stage companies, conflicts of interest, previous directorships, prior knowledge of individuals)
  • appropriate references

Assistance in recruiting the EDD was provided by RKES, typically via known contacts, advertising via Talent Scotland or engagement with existing networks. The identity of the EDD was agreed between the opportunity team and RKES prior to an offer to the proposed EDD being made.