Intelligent Island appoints Centre of Excellence interim CEO

By Pete Young
Thursday, 01 August, 2002

Tasmania's nascent Centre of Excellence for Bioinformatics has ended a national hunt for a chief executive by appointing a bioindustry executive with strong business strategy skills.

IT has headhunted Dr Michele Allan from Bonlac Foods where she was general manager for bioscience and technology.

The decision showed the Centre of Excellence board was focusing on a top executive whose business skills were more important than possession of an intimate understanding of bioinformatics.

Besides experience in the pharmaceutical, chemical and food manufacturing industries, Dr Allan has a wide academic background which however does not include any bioinformatics-specific degrees.

Her appointment as interim chief executive marks the beginning of a new phase for the centre which will be the centrepiece of Tasmania's Intelligent Island initiative.

Allan said she believed her proven track-record in preparing and implementing business strategies were a major factor in her selection from a national field of 14 applicants.

"They wanted someone who can look at business plan and come up with a return on investment," she said.

Her initial job will be to establish the centre's operational focus by developing its business plan.

She will be canvassing key players in the bioinformatics field in Australia as well as Asia, Europe and the United States in order to understand their products, revenue streams and technology expenditure, she said.

That will help identify prospective areas of opportunity for the centre while highlighting companies and institutions with whom effective alliances might be formed.

"We've got to determine what the structure of the centre's business will be, who will be its potential partners and what the business outcomes should be."

"We've had some indications of potential partners, but we are now moving on to understand the global informatics market and look at what competitive advantages Tasmania has going forward."

The centre's timetable calls for her to submit a report to its interim board by November. The centre has seed funding of $20 million made available through the use of part of Telstra's privatisation windfall to accelerate the growth of information and communication technology in Tasmania.

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