Matthew Baker, founder of DNA Research Innovations, is winner of the 2006 Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Bea Perks/London, UK

The winner of the 2006 Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year award was delighted by, and completely unprepared for, the accolade. But Matthew Baker, who founded the company DNA Research Innovations eight years ago, should be no stranger to success. In October 2004 he sold DRI to the world’s largest life sciences organisation, Invitrogen, for a cool $65 million (just over ?37 million).

Baker urged Chemistry World not to raise him on a pedestal. To follow in his footsteps ’would be madness,’ he said. His remarkable success came at considerable cost, he said, and rested on a combination of great team work and good luck.

Baker’s team was key, he said, and it can take years to find the right team members. Businesses like his - DRI developed DNA and RNA extraction technologies - need good business people as well as good scientists. Two very different areas of expertise, he stressed. 

The award formed part of the RSC Industry and Technology Forum’s annual innovation awards, presented at Burlington House, London, on 6 April. Alongside the entrepreneur prize was an award for Teamwork in Innovation.

This year’s teamwork award was presented to Epichem, in recognition of collaboration between Epichem and the University of Liverpool on a project to develop precursors and processes for use in integrated circuit manufacture. Epichem, founded 23 years ago, has built close alliances with companies and universities worldwide. The award was collected by Epichem’s John Roberts and collaborator Paul Chalker from Liverpool. 

In a rare departure, awards were also presented to runners up in each category. Andrew Abbott of Scionix, an ionic liquids manufacturer, was runner up for the entrepreneur award, while James Robinson, a company involved in photochromic dye development, was runner up for the teamwork award.

Prize winners collected a crystal trophy, a certificate and a cheque for ?4000. Runners up collected a certificate and cheque for ?2000.