Nicholas Hawker - Co-founder and CEO

Nicholas Hawker

Co-founder and CEO

Nick’s research into fusion began in 2007 as part of his masters thesis, where he worked at the University of Oxford with Yiannis Ventikos. This work continued into a DPhil, where he performed hydrodynamic simulations of shock-driven cavity collapse. These simulations showed that cavity collapse leads to inertial confinement of the gas inside the cavity and revealed that extreme states of matter could be reached, possibly entering the regime for fusion.

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Nick’s research into fusion began in 2007 as part of his masters thesis, where he worked at the University of Oxford with Yiannis Ventikos. This work continued into a DPhil, where he performed hydrodynamic simulations of shock-driven cavity collapse. These simulations showed that cavity collapse leads to inertial confinement of the gas inside the cavity and revealed that extreme states of matter could be reached, possibly entering the regime for fusion. To explore the concept of energy generation via this process, Nick and Yiannis co-founded First Light Fusion Ltd in 2011.

Nick also spent three years tutoring at Lady Margaret Hall during his studies. After finishing his DPhil in 2012, Nick joined First Light Fusion as CEO and CTO, and continues to oversee the technical vision of the company.

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David Bryon - CFO

David Bryon

CFO

With more than two decades of diverse industry experience and over 15 years supporting UK university spinouts in senior roles, David brings to First Light deep hands-on experience and an alternative perspective from his extensive career. Tech start-ups are a natural fit for his skills; his business insight and focus on pragmatic outcomes allow his teams to make hard things possible.

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With more than two decades of diverse industry experience and over 15 years supporting UK university spinouts in senior roles, David brings to First Light deep hands-on experience and an alternative perspective from his extensive career. Tech start-ups are a natural fit for his skills; his business insight and focus on pragmatic outcomes allow his teams to make hard things possible.

After early career roles in engineering, chemical, FMCG, and enterprise software businesses, David made the transition to the Oxford spinout scene when he joined T+ Medical in 2006. There he held senior financial and operational positions including Interim CEO. After several roles and a merger, he moved on by setting up Right Brain Finance, a consultancy offering financial direction and business support to a wide range of entrepreneurial tech businesses across South-East England. Despite considerable success (with VC backed clients in sectors that ranged from Sports Health Tech to Industrial Biotech), David found it frustrating to only “advise” but not be able to “do”. He therefore took the opportunity in 2015 to join the board and then to take the executive role of CFO at First Light Fusion, one of the businesses he had supported as a consultant.

David has been a CIMA MIP, and holds a BA in Geography and a MSc in Psychology.

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Gianluca Pisanello - COO

Gianluca Pisanello

COO

Gianluca honed his leadership and management skills during his 14-year career in the Formula 1 World Championship. As a Race Engineer and Chief Engineer, he led high-performance multi-disciplinary teams in competitive, challenging and time-critical environments.

A key chapter in Gianluca’s career was his eight year tenure at Toyota Motorsport in Germany where he successfully learned, adopted and deployed the business principles and practices at the heart of one of the most successful companies in the world.

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Gianluca honed his leadership and management skills during his 14-year career in the Formula 1 World Championship. As a Race Engineer and Chief Engineer, he led high-performance multi-disciplinary teams in competitive, challenging and time-critical environments.

A key chapter in Gianluca’s career was his eight year tenure at Toyota Motorsport in Germany where he successfully learned, adopted and deployed the business principles and practices at the heart of one of the most successful companies in the world.

Formally media trained, he has publicly represented the motorsport teams he has worked at on many occasions, often with the most famous names in global media.


Throughout his career, Gianluca was selected to foster key technical partnerships with high profile companies and to provide business and technical consultancy services to Renault Sport, the motorsport arm of the Renault automotive brand. He also fulfilled key speaker roles at industry forums and conferences, including GE’s Oil & Gas division AGM.


Before working in Formula 1, his experience includes technical management roles in a range of motorsport categories, IT Systems Engineering Consultancy for several major hospitals, teaching and a one year voluntary service post in the Carabinieri, the Italian police force.


Gianluca has a passion for extracting optimum performance from the people he works with and the processes employed in each industry in which he has worked. He holds a Masters’ Degree in Electronic Engineering.

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Bart Markus - Chairman

Bart Markus

Chairman

Apart from being a veteran VC, Bart is a seasoned and passionate entrepreneur and is renowned for his relentless drive to internationalise companies and help them become successful beyond Europe by conquering the US or Asia. A Dutch native, he has been a General Partner at Wellington from 2000 to 2015 and played a significant role in building Wellington from a €50M fund in 1999 to a well established player in the European VC market with some €800M of assets under management.

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Apart from being a veteran VC, Bart is a seasoned and passionate entrepreneur and is renowned for his relentless drive to internationalise companies and help them become successful beyond Europe by conquering the US or Asia. A Dutch native, he has been a General Partner at Wellington from 2000 to 2015 and played a significant role in building Wellington from a €50M fund in 1999 to a well established player in the European VC market with some €800M of assets under management.


Over the past 2 decades, Bart has invested in an impressive collection of deep IP Technology companies located in Europe and the US. Many have already made the successful leap to the US or are successfully opening up new foreign markets. Investments include Navteq (NASDAQ IPO in 2004: NVT; sold to Nokia in 2007), Meiosys (sold to IBM in 2005), Nawotec (sold to Carl Zeiss in 2005), Q-Layer (sold to Sun Microsystems in 2009), Cavendish Kinetics and GLO.


Bart spent the past 18 years as an investor in High Tech companies, and additionally as a serial entrepreneur himself co-founded by now 6 companies including Hexagem, a defect-free GaN substrate technology company and the MRI Centre, a highly successful chain of private medical diagnostic clinics. He also set up and acted as CEO for ePearle, a pan-European B2B eCommerce start-up.


Bart started his career as a process control system and project engineer with Shell in Norway and then worked at McKinsey, both in the Netherlands and South Africa.


Bart holds an MSc in Applied Physics from Twente University of Technology in the Netherlands and an MBA (with distinction) from INSEAD in France.

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Stephen Brindle - Non-Executive Director

Stephen Brindle

Non-Executive Director

Between 2008 and 2016, Stephen was Managing Partner of Technikos LLP, an early stage venture capital fund with a long term commercial contract with Oxford University’s Bio-medical Engineering Department.

Stephen previously worked for 10 years in the City, as an equity salesman, where he focused on the life sciences sector.

Before that he spent 6 years as a management consultant, latterly with Deloitte Consulting.

He has a BSc Econ from the LSE.

Will Goodlad - Non-Executive Director

Will Goodlad

Non-Executive Director

Will works as a Principal in the Deep Tech team at Oxford Science Enterprises. He also serves as a NED on the Boards of their portfolio companies Alloyed, Animal Dynamics, Evolito, Odqa Renewable Energy Technologies, Oxford Ionics and Oxford Quantum Circuits.

Will has previously worked for the China Britain Business Council in Beijing, E.L.I. Holdings in Chengdu, Text Publishing in Melbourne and Penguin in London.

He holds a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford and an MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics.

Will is a Trustee of the marine research foundation Nekton.

Andreas Lusch - Non-Executive Director

Andreas Lusch

Non-Executive Director

Andreas Lusch is an experienced global leader with deep domain expertise in the oil & gas and energy industry. He is the former President & CEO of GE Steam Power, a 4.5 billion USD global business covering the industry’s widest range of technologies for nuclear and coal applications as well as environmental control systems, from product development to turnkey power plant solutions.

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Andreas Lusch is an experienced global leader with deep domain expertise in the oil & gas and energy industry. He is the former President & CEO of GE Steam Power, a 4.5 billion USD global business covering the industry’s widest range of technologies for nuclear and coal applications as well as environmental control systems, from product development to turnkey power plant solutions.


Prior to joining GE, he was the senior vice president of Alstom Thermal Power’s Steam and Nuclear businesses, where he had global responsibility for Alstom’s steam and nuclear portfolios. In this role, he led the integration of Alstom Power products into power plants through engineering, procurement and construction services. Andreas started his career in 1987 in the engineering and construction division of the ThyssenKrupp Group where he held leadership roles in the oil, gas, petrochemical and coal industries.


From 2000 to 2005 Andreas was in the executive board of Lurgi AG, a technology and EPC company active in the field of oil & gas, petrochemicals and life sciences. He holds a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Karlsruhe in Germany.

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Robert Trezona - Non-Executive Director

Robert Trezona

Non-Executive Director

Robert is the Head of Cleantech at IP Group plc, a £1bn venture capital firm that backs scientific breakthroughs with permanent capital from the public markets. Over the last decade IP Group has been the most active venture investor in climate technology startups in the UK, with over 40 investments to date and notable successes including Ceres Power, First Light Fusion and Oxbotica. Outside cleantech, Robert also led IP Group’s investment in Hinge Health, a $6bn pioneer in digital treatment for back and joint pain.

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Robert is the Head of Cleantech at IP Group plc, a £1bn venture capital firm that backs scientific breakthroughs with permanent capital from the public markets. Over the last decade IP Group has been the most active venture investor in climate technology startups in the UK, with over 40 investments to date and notable successes including Ceres Power, First Light Fusion and Oxbotica. Outside cleantech, Robert also led IP Group’s investment in Hinge Health, a $6bn pioneer in digital treatment for back and joint pain.

Prior to IP Group, he was Head of R&D at The Carbon Trust, where he led their Research Accelerator programme and R&D grant funding portfolio. He started his career as a scientist working in hydrogen and fuel cells before joining McKinsey to consult in the energy and materials sectors. He has a First Class degree and PhD in materials science from the University of Cambridge.

In addition to his work at IP Group, Robert serves as a Commissioner for the Energy Transitions Commission, a diverse, global group of leaders from industry, finance and public life who are working to accelerate the transition to zero-carbon energy, industry and transport. Robert was also a member of the UK Government Green Finance Taskforce and advises the UK government and other stakeholders on the development of a thriving green finance industry in the UK.

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Yiannis Ventikos - Co-founder and Non-Executive Director

Yiannis Ventikos

Co-founder and Non-Executive Director

Yiannis Ventikos is the Kennedy Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at University College London. He has worked or studied in Greece, France, the USA and Switzerland. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

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Yiannis Ventikos is the Kennedy Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at University College London. He has worked or studied in Greece, France, the USA and Switzerland. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Prof Ventikos established the Fluidics and Biocomplexity Group in 2003, that pursues research on transport phenomena and fluid mechanics, with a variety of applications, including energy, healthcare and manufacturing. He has published about 150 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, has contributed chapters in 10 books, and has presented close to 400 papers in international conferences and workshops. He has filed nine international patents to date. Apart from being a co-founder of First Light Fusion, he has been involved in a number of other tech transfer enterprises and consults internationally on topics of his expertise. He has served as a reviewer for more than 80 academic journals as well as for textbook and monograph publishers. He is on the editorial board of six academic journals, and on the scientific and/or organising committee of numerous international conferences and workshops.

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