MTPConnect is guided by an experienced Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors

The Hon. Jaala Pulford – Chair

The Honourable Jaala Pulford was appointed as Non-Executive Director and Chair of MTPConnect in 2023 after a distinguished career as a senior minister in the Victorian state government.

She was elected to the Victorian Parliament in 2006. As a member of the Victorian State Government (2014-22), Jaala was the first woman appointed as Minister for Agriculture. Other roles in executive government included Roads and Road Safety, Small Business, Resources, Employment, and Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy. 

Through the pandemic Jaala led the State’s efforts to support 640,000 small businesses, and oversaw the design and execution of an employment program that helped 53,000 people avoid long term unemployment. She oversaw the State's largest ever investment into medical research and innovation and played a pivotal role in Moderna establishing its Australian research and manufacturing hub in Melbourne. She set Victoria on course to be Australia’s first gigabit state through a billion-dollar program delivered in partnership with telecommunications providers. As Agriculture Minister she oversaw the establishment of a medicinal cannabis industry.

Jaala is an experienced leader with deep experience in Cabinet government, public administration and governance. She is passionate about making sure people and businesses can thrive in an economy undergoing fast-moving, often destabilising, but exciting and transformational change.

Jaala holds a number of positions in the MTP sector including as a Director of the Children’s Cancer Foundation, member of the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health Advisory Council, Non Executive Director of Cyban Pty Limited and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at University of Melbourne. She holds a Bachelor Business Management, a Masters of Public Policy and is a Graduate of Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

Dr Nicholas Cerneaz – Director

Dr Cerneaz has been building companies to commercialise academic research for more than two decades. After gaining a DPhil from Oxford University in the early 90s in mammography technologies assisting the management of breast cancer, he has worked extensively guiding and advising the development of a number of medical technology startup companies, covering a variety of fields including radiology, oncology, ophthalmology, pathology and immunology. 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. With MyHealthTest Pty Ltd, a Canberra based MedTech startup, he worked to bring convenient pathology services to consumers with do-it-yourself (at home) sample collection and test results delivered online to both patient and doctor. Dr Cerneaz has also previously been a director of various NFP and AIM-listed companies.

Alex Fowkes - Non-Executive Director

Alex Fowkes was the Chief Strategy Officer for WuXi NextCODE, based in Singapore. As a life science executive, he is an experienced leader and thought partner for life science strategy, commercial operations and business development. He has extensive experience in leading strategy development and operational improvement projects within the pharmaceutical, contract research and bioinformatics industries with a core expertise in the strategy, execution and management of strategic partnerships. His specialities are life science strategy & operations, business development and strategic transactions. 

Julie Phillips – Director

Julie Phillips has a strong background in the biotechnology 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. From 2014-2020, Ms Phillips was Chair of AusBiotech Ltd, the peak biotechnology industry association in Australia. She is CEO and Director of BioDiem Ltd and its subsidiary, Opal Biosciences Ltd. She is also a member of the Council of the University of Newcastle, chairs Innovation and Science Australia’s R&D Incentive Committee, and sits on various government committees.

Dr Douglas Robertson – Director

Dr Robertson is the Director of Research Services at The Australian National University and has over 30 years 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.