Science & Technology Facilities Council

STFC is a UK Research Council which funds and delivers science and technology to advance our knowledge of the Universe.  We use our expertise, capabilities and facilities to drive industrial innovation.

We support Oxfordshire’s high-tech entrepreneurs and SMEs through a range of tailored innovation opportunities, initiatives and collaborations including:

Our Harwell Oxford campus where companies in our network or located on site can benefit from:

  • – Business support and incubation programmes such as our award-winning Innovations Technology Access Centre and ESA
  • – Business Incubation Centre
  • – State-of-the-art laboratory facilities, equipment and technical expertise
  • – Technology transfer opportunities from organisations such as ESA and CERN
  • – Innovation, cluster and networking events and funding opportunities
  • – Commercial exploitation of STFC and university academic research
  • – Industrial access to big science facilities for collaborative research and development

Why is Venturefest the best?
Venturefest is the best because it embodies what we’re all about – inspirational innovation that impacts our lives.  At Venturefest we showcase and share our world-leading intellectual property, inventions, expertise and capabilities with entrepreneurs and businesses – helping to make Harwell Oxford and Oxfordshire the birthplace of high-tech companies.

Contact Details

[email protected]

01793 442000

Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1SZ

Meet the experts

Kate Ronayne

Executive Director of Business and Innovation, Science and Technology Facilities Council

Kate is the Executive Director of Business and Innovation at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), having been appointed in 2018 after serving 14 years in the organisation.

After completing her PhD in physical chemistry at Queen’s University Belfast, Kate joined STFC in 2004 as a Laser Instrument Scientist in the Central Laser Facility. Here she was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Ultrafast Spectroscopy Laboratory and worked closely with the multi-disciplinary user community. Kate rapidly progressed into management positions within STFC’s technology transfer team, where she commercialised Intellectual Property portfolio from across STFC’s National Laboratories through the creation of new ventures and licensing of technology.

Previous to her current role, Kate served as Director of Business Development for Space, Technology and Facilities. She is also the Director of several STFC spin-outs; Keit Ltd., The Electrospinning Company Ltd. and Scitech Precision and is the STFC Director for the early stage seed fund, UKI2S.


Liz Kirby

Director of Innovation, Science & Technology Facilities Council

Dr Liz Kirby is Director of Innovation at Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) part of UK Research & Innovation.

She leads teams managing the STFC Incubation activities at the Harwell campus and commercialising the intellectual property created by STFC’s National Laboratories through licensing and spinout creation. She works at the interface translating research into exploitable outcomes and brings together STFC’s support activities for high tech early ventures encouraging economic growth from the science base.

Liz started her career as the first employee at Opsys Limited (a spin out company from Oxford University) before joining the University of Reading as IP/Legal adviser. She joined STFC in 2012 as IP Licensing Manager and was appointed as a Director of STFC Innovations Ltd. in 2018. Liz is a board Director on several start-up companies which have been spun out from STFC physical science research activities.

Liz has a degree and DPhil in Physical Chemistry from the University of Oxford.


Ric Allott

Director of Business Development, Space, Technology and Facilities

Ric has >30 years R&D, commercial and business development experience in advanced photonics based technologies. Between 1995 and 2001 he worked as a beamline scientist in the Central Laser Facility at RAL. In 2001, he joined Exitech Ltd, an innovative manufacturer of highly specialised laser micromachining systems. At Exitech he led the research, development and commercialisation of novel laser processing techniques focused on the Flat Panel Displays, Energy Efficient Lighting and Photovoltaic markets. Between 2006 and 2011 he played a pivotal role in setting up and operating a number of the UK Knowledge Transfer Networks in the photonics and plastic electronics sectors. This role was all about business development, connecting business to business and science to business. Following this he joined Polyphotonix a pioneer in OLED technology as Chief Technical Officer with responsibility for setting technical strategy and delivering the companies IP/technology.

Since September 2012 he has been developing business opportunities and maximizing economic impact at STFC and is currently Director of Business Development, Space, Technology and Facilities.



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Venturefest Oxford will be returning on Thursday 25th November 2021

Make connections that lead to new investments, new businesses and new ideas in the high-tech sector in Oxfordshire.