Board and Executive


MTPConnect is guided by an experienced Board of Directors and supported by a talented executive team.


The Board of Directors

Sue MacLeman – Chair

Sue MacLeman has more than 30 years’ experience as a pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology executive with senior roles in corporate, medical, commercial and business development. Ms MacLeman has also served as CEO and Board member of several ASX and NASDAQ listed companies in the sector. She has previously served as CEO and Managing Director and Non-Executive Director of MTPConnect (MTPII-GC Ltd). Ms MacLeman is currently Chair of Anatara Lifesciences Ltd, Chair of Novita Healthcare Ltd, Non-Executive Director of Oventus Medical Ltd, Imunexus and veski. She is also appointed to a number of academic and government advisory committees. Her broad commercial experience is underpinned by graduate qualifications in pharmacy and post graduate qualifications in commercial law, corporate governance, business administration and marketing.


Dr Nicholas Cerneaz – Director

Dr Cerneaz has been building companies to commercialise academic research for more than two decades. After gaining a D. Phil (doctorate) in mammography technologies assisting the management of breast cancer from Oxford University in the early 1990s, he has worked extensively guiding the development of a number of medical technology startup companies, covering fields from radiology, oncology, ophthalmology and now pathology. Other industrial experience includes automation and process optimisation in heavy manufacturing and process industries, astronomy instrumentation design and implementation, and advanced computer vision safety systems for the automotive industry. His latest endeavour is MyHealthTest Pty Ltd - a Canberra based medtech startup bringing convenient pathology services to the consumer with do-it-yourself (at home) sample collection and test results delivered online to both the consumer and their doctor.

Dr Cerneaz has previously been a director of AIM listed companies, and is today a director of the Australian Centre for Innovation and International Competitiveness (ACIIC) and a scientific advisory board member to Bionic Vision Australia.


Julie Phillips – Director

Julie Phillips has a strong background in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, having worked as the CEO and Director of start-up Australian biotechnology companies operating in the life sciences sector. Her technical background is in clinical trials, regulatory affairs and pharmacoeconomic assessment/pricing of therapeutics. Ms Phillips is currently Chair of AusBiotech Ltd, the peak biotechnology industry association in Australia, CEO and Director of biotechnology company, BioDiem Ltd and its subsidiary Opal Biosciences, Ltd. She is a member of the Council of the University of Newcastle, and Innovation Australia’s R&D Incentive Committee.


Dr Douglas Robertson – Director

Dr Robertson is the Director of Research Services at The Australian National University and has over 30 periods’ experience in research, economic development, technology transfer, spin-out companies and commercialisation in the UK and Australia. During that time he has negotiated over $3bn of research funding, served on the boards of over 20 technology companies and assisted the establishment of over 20 other early stage technology businesses.

Dr Robertson was a founding Director of PraxisUnico (formerly Praxis), a major UK and international technology transfer and training association, from 2003-2013 and Chair in 2012 and 2013. Dr Robertson serves on the boards of four NCRIS facilities.


The Executive team

Dr Dan Grant - CEO

Dr Dan Grant has spent more than 25 years in senior roles in the pharmaceutical, higher education and medical research sectors. Prior to joining MTPConnect, Dr Grant was the inaugural Pro Vice Chancellor for Industry Engagement at La Trobe University where he had oversight of the university's innovation, commercialisation and industry engagement activities. He was also the Senior Director and Head of Pfizer's External Research and Development Innovation group for ANZ/Singapore and their head of open innovation. Dr Grant was also a member of the United Nations ESCAP SBN Task Force on innovation and competitiveness. He has a PhD in Cardiovascular Physiology and an MBA.


Phillip Hains – Chief Financial Officer

Mr Hains holds almost 30 years experience in corporate accounting, administration, and general management, and has served on a number of public company boards and related committees. Phillip is driven to achieve, and finds continual inspiration in his colleagues and employees. His depth of experience in the corporate world has also taught him that successful people know how to have fun.

He is the founder of The CFO Solution, and is a passionate advocate of The Australian Outward Bound Foundation (OBA). Mr Hains has given back to the community through his sponsorship and pro bono work for OBA, as well as assisting many of his friends, family and staff to attend OBA courses. He is currently a Director and Treasurer/Secretary of OBA. Mr Hains holds an MBA from RMIT University and obtained his Public Practice Certificate from Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand in 1998.



Dr Alfredo Martinez-Coll – General Manager, Stakeholder Engagement

Dr Alfredo Martinez-Coll is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Registered Technology Transfer Professional and a member of the AusMedTech (Medical Devices) National Committee of AusBiotech. With a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University (USA), a PhD and post-doctoral training in biomedical sciences from University of Technology, Sydney, Alfredo brings more than 16 years research experience in the areas of artificial organs, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular physiology, membrane transport, and oxygen transport to tissue.

Alfredo has worked as a business development manager in Technology Transfer/commercialisation for the past 13 years at public hospitals and in academia. His main areas of interest are sustainable funding for science, entrepreneurship and innovation, project management in science and business development. Alfredo is passionate about engaging with researchers and Industry specialists in the Life Sciences arena to translate research discoveries into social impact. Prior to joining MTPConnect, Alfredo held the position of Senior Business Development Manager at UNSW Innovations.


Dr Sandhya Tewari – General Manager, International and Government

Dr Sandhya Tewari is responsible for developing and implementing MTPConnect’s International and Government engagement plan to improve access to global supply chains and international markets and to be a trusted, independent voice for the sector in shaping and influencing policy.

Dr Tewari led Victoria’s investment attraction, trade and business development activities in biotechnology from 2009 to 2016, as the Senior Manager of Medtech & Pharma at the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, the Victorian Government's lead agency for the promotion and facilitation of the state's economic development. She has more than 19 years of international experience in trade development and investment attraction, including in India where she worked as Director - Biotechnology at Confederation of Indian Industry for nine years.

Before joining the Victorian Government, Sandhya worked at the Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria managing their portfolio of biotechnology projects. She holds a PhD in Molecular Biology from University of Manitoba, Canada. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Stuart Dignam – General Manager Corporate Communications & Policy

Stuart Dignam is an accomplished corporate affairs professional. He has 16-years’ experience in media relations, communications and issues management working across political offices and the public and private sectors. Mr Dignam has also worked in broadcast media for more than a decade. He has experience in driving media positioning in Asia, including China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Mr Dignam also has on-the-ground experience in the United States, Canada and Latin America, including Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Chile. He has held a number of senior positions, including General Manager, Policy & Corporate Affairs at CPA Australia, Queensland Deputy Trade & Investment Commissioner for the Americas, based in Los Angeles, Executive Director, office of the Director-General of Premier and Cabinet, Queensland and Journalist and broadcaster, ABC News Radio.

Mr Dignam has also worked as a government media and policy advisor.


Dr Melanie Thomson – General Manager, Education, Skills and Events

Dr Mel Thomson completed her Honours degree in microbiology and immunology at the University of Melbourne in 1998. She then immigrated to the UK where she worked on various projects as diverse as allergy and cancer before undertaking further studies. She completed a Masters of Research then a PhD in microbial genetic regulation in Neisseria species, both at University of York, UK. After the award of her PhD in 2009, she became interested the host-pathogen interactions at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, UK.

Dr Thomson returned to Australia in 2011 to start her own research group at Deakin Medical School and the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases. A passionate science communicator, she has recently become a national ‘torch bearer’ for the concept of crowd funding academic research, with a track record of three successful ‘Pozible’ crowd funding campaigns, ‘Mighty Maggots’, ‘Hips 4 Hipsters’ and ‘No more Poo Taboo’. She is involved with advocacy as a steering committee member for Women in Science Australia. Mel is very active on Twitter with over 9000 people following her at @DrMel_T.


Elizabeth Stares – Director, Major Projects

Ms Stares is an accomplished product designer, specialising in designing medical devices, surgical tools and consumer products for UK and worldwide markets, and was a lead inventor on multiple in-force US patent families.

Ms Stares' medical and consumer devices project management experience has seen her leading and delivering large EU-Government funded projects with numerous partners across multiple countries, and projects values up to $2.7 million.

Following a move to Australia in 2010, and a role in a design consultancy and as a product design advisor to various start-up companies, she worked with the MTPConnect Chair and advisor group to determine the need and remit for the Growth Centre, and manage its establishment.

Ms Stares is now the Director of Major Projects, working with collaborative consortium on current and future MTPConnect projects; focusing on projects that solve constraints and gaps in the sector or build national capacity, all sharing in a funding pool of $15.6 million.