Spotlight on... Dr Laura Bovo

This week we meet Dr Laura Bovo, Innovation Network Manager at UCL Innovation and Enterprise. Here, Laura shares with us her work rolling out a dedicated funding stream to support innovation networks and her love for horse-riding.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I work in the partnerships team of UCL Innovation & Enterprise. My role is to facilitate, enable and support academics and researchers across disciplines to interact with groups of businesses and other stakeholders.

I specialise in innovation networks and other new industry-facing activities that can bring external expertise into UCL and increase the impact of our research.

If colleagues want to engage with multiple external stakeholders to nurture partnerships and form an interdisciplinary community, I can provide support and guidance to sharpen ideas and ambitions. I also advise on the range of knowledge exchange funding pathways and opportunities available to support the incubation and launch of innovation networks and alternative approaches.

My team can act as a front door to the support available from UCL Innovation & Enterprise. Whether you’re interested in funding for proof of concept testing and knowledge exchange; partnering with businesses and other external bodies including charities; consultancy to industry, government and policy-makers, commercialising your research or developing entrepreneurial thinking and start-up creation - please get in touch.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I first arrived in 2010, as a visiting PhD student for a supposedly six months’ exchange but I never left... I worked at the London Centre for Nanotechnology until 2018, as a postdoc and a Leverhulme fellow. These research roles combined well my strong background in inorganic-chemistry and the more fundamental physics of low temperature magnetism.

Since joining UCL Innovation & Enterprise, I have had the opportunity to support innovation and partnerships across a wide range of different sectors and disciplines; to gain relevant experience in areas that are different from my physical science background.

On the premise that solutions to the greatest challenges rarely come from one field alone, UCL has a great opportunity to make a difference thanks to its ability to offer an excellent and broad cross-disciplinary range of expertise. UCL leadership can be enhanced even further by developing its existing partnerships and creating new ones.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

When I decided to leave my home country Italy, alone; I wanted to explore the wider world and learn about different cultures. I settled in the UK, aiming for a career in academia; I worked hard to prove my abilities and I succeeded in doing impactful science, which I am very proud of.

Then I realised that I was eager for a career change, to fulfil my goals and ambitions. Joining UCL Innovation & Enterprise has allowed me to embark on very exciting new projects where I feel empowered by enabling positive outcomes that have the potential to drive open innovation as well as technological and societal advances.

Looking back at these turning points, I am very glad I had the willpower and the drive to make that need for change a reality, twice.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

I am very pleased that our department is now rolling out a dedicated funding stream to support the inception and launch of innovation network type activities. All UCL staff will be able to apply, including academic, research and professional services staff from any department. The first call has just opened, with funding available for projects linked to Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded research, there will be more opportunities during the year for all subjects.

Behind the scenes, there is a lot of work that needs to be done, and many excellent colleagues are helping with this project. It is very exciting to see the fruition of some of my work coming alive and I believe it is a great opportunity for UCL to strengthen current relationships and create new networks.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album: as my fiancée and I are organising our wedding for next summer, at the moment I am overloaded by music options and choices... but our lounge preference clearly sits with Jungle, For Ever and St Germain, Tourist

Novel: A little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, is an immensely powerful and heart-breaking novel of brotherly love and the limits of human endurance. Not exactly a light read, but unforgettable - utterly gripping, wonderfully romantic and sometimes harrowing.

Film: difficult to pick, as I watch many movies. From childhood memory I should say Gli Aristogatti (The Aristocats). I can still recite most lines (in Italian though).

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

Don’t trust atoms, they make up everything.

(Italian humour is rather different, perhaps more "colourful", but any attempt to translation always ends up in nonsense)

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Having many close friends and family members living afar, one soon realises they would be your best dream dinner guests.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be too severe and demanding with yourself if you can.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

My little sister and I share the same birthday and for many years I had a genuine belief that she was mine - after all, she was introduced to me as my present when I turned four.

What is your favourite place?

The Dolomites, all year round - beautiful mountain landscape, wild nature, outdoors activities and peace.

But where I am truly in ’dream land’ is whenever I jump on a horse and ride, losing both the concept of space and time.

LINKS Innovation networks funding Innovation and enterprise funding for staff Innovation and enterprise support for staff


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