Kelpie Scientific – Case Study
Kelpie Scientific offers genetic engineering at the forefront of medical and biological research. Their powerful, highly customised, affordable products have the ability to accessibly, specifically and safely alter the DNA of a target cell.
Mark McNeil, Director, tells us about his passion for research and industry and background in immunology and infectious diseases which led to founding his own company and the opportunities he looks forward to as a Business Member at Edinburgh BioQuarter.
What has been your career path?
I actually started out doing a degree in art and design but quickly changed paths, with the next logical step being to study immunology at the University of Edinburgh. After that, I worked at the Roslin Institue in an academic role followed by an industry position with Aquila, based at Edinburgh BioQuarter.
My goal has always been to complete a PhD in Immunology and I’m now into my third year of at the University of St Andrews. Along with immunology, my PhD is in combination with virology, very apt right now! I kept a strong passion for industry and wanted something I could build from the ground up, which led me to founding Kelpie Scientific.
Tell us about some of your career highlights…
My first publication! It was concerning zoonotic infection which I did at the Roslin Institute, and without doing a Masters, it probably served as a large stepping stone to gaining my PhD. Starting my PhD was my biggest success, as it’s my route into further research and industry, it was also a great sense of accomplishment having wanted this while I was studying in a completely different area. It made me realise things aren’t as constrained as I thought and I could actually found my own business.
The story behind Kelpie Scientific…
I want Kelpie to supply our innovative gene products to enhance areas of research where I’ve noticed problems and lack of services. I also want to retain my passion for conducting research so plan to use our own technology and apply it to vaccine development, utilising my background in immunology and infectious diseases. Hopefully with some success, luck and other people’s money, I can begin expanding the company along with my ideas.
Why did you choose to become a Business Member with BioQuarter?
I previously worked on BioQuarter, and really enjoyed the environment and location. I’ve always wanted to return to Edinburgh after my PhD and so BioQuarter was the obvious choice for me to get my start-up going. I’m looking forward to tapping into the expertise from the community to help me market and support my business, leading to more networking and funding to really get things going.
What collaboration opportunities or engagement do you hope to gain from across BioQuarter?
I’m hoping I can market my business and ideas with the help of Edinburgh BioQuarter to raise awareness and interest. Since Kelpie Scientific is a start-up, I’m looking for potential funding avenues, clients and collaborations with other companies. BioQuarter will be the perfect incubator for this to happen as it’s a melting pot of multiple companies with a wealth of experience.
What are you focused on at the moment and what does the future hold?
Right now, I’m excited to start working with the BioQuarter team. I’m looking forward to developing my ideas further and will hopefully secure more funding to start working with clients. The coronavirus pandemic has made business more difficult and slowed things down a little, but we just have to adapt and adjust!
Who is your mentor?
I actually don’t have one (yet)! My company has been self-driven and I have learned almost everything myself. I have however had some great advice from various people around me including my PhD supervisor Dr Michael Nevels and others from the School of Biology (University of St Andrews)
What are you looking forward to most about being part of the BioQuarter community?
I’m most looking forward to making new connections and networks. Things really get moving forward when you surround yourself with like minded people who have the experience and advice to get your idea off the ground. I want to be around people who have done this already, and could help guide me.