Meet the team

Executive Directors

John von Benecke

Chief Executive Officer

John has a strong track record as an executive in a range of Life Sciences and healthcare companies, covering both pre-revenue and commercial high growth companies. As a CFO, he has raised more than $130m of venture capital to date and taken two start-ups through to successful exit events, including the $330m acquisition of ApaTech Ltd by Baxter. John has gained strong operational experience across a range of business functions and organisations, including fulfilling combined CFO and COO roles for two private companies previously.

John holds a Bachelor’s degree in Organisational Psychology and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Professor Kevin Shakesheff, FRPharmS

Chief Scientific Officer

Following his return from the Langer Laboratories at M.I.T, Kevin has taken a leading role in shaping cell therapy and tissue engineering in the UK as a co-founder of the Tissue and Cell Engineering Society (now 12 years old), as a Co-Director of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine and as a member of the Biologics and Vaccines Expert Advisory Group of the MHRA.

In 2013 he was appointed Director of the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform Hub in Acellular Technologies. Kevin has published over 220 peer-reviewed full papers (10,000 citations to date) and his work has generated 13 patent application families and numerous international awards.

Non-Executive Directors

Keith Valentine

Non-Executive Chair


Keith Valentine is a 30-year veteran in the orthopeadic industry and is serves the CEO and President of SeaSpine (NASDAQ: SPNE). Prior to joining SeaSpine, Mr. Valentine served as President and Chief Operating Officer of NuVasive, Inc. from January 2007 to April 2015 and as President from December 2004 to January 2007, prior to which he served in various senior executive roles in Marketing, Development and Operations since joining NuVasive in 2001.

Previously, Mr. Valentine served as Vice President of Marketing at ORATEC Interventions, Inc., a medical device company acquired by Smith & Nephew PLC, and spent eight years in various roles with Medtronic Sofamor Danek, including Vice President of Marketing for the Rods division and Group Director for the BMP Biologics program, the Interbody Sales Development Effort, and International Sales and Marketing. Mr. Valentine received a B.B.A. in Management and Biomedical Sciences from Western Michigan University.

Ian Wilding PhD

Non-Executive Director

An internationally-respected key opinion leader in drug development and a serial entrepreneur, his background includes strong scientific, business, managerial and deal-making experience.

Ian has previously founded, managed and developed a number of successful bioscience start-up companies, including Pharmaceutical Profiles Ltd. (recipient of a Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Technology Award) which, as Chief Executive, he grew to over 110 employees and a 10 Million GBP turnover.

He presently sits on the board of Zysis, with previous board positions including Bend Research, Modern Biosciences and R5 Pharmaceuticals.

Peter Dines

Non-Executive Director

Peter serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Mercia Asset Management PLC. He joined the Group in 2015 as Head of Life Sciences & Biosciences, with over 20 years’ experience in this sector. He is responsible for a number of the life science portfolio investments including Medovate, Concepta plc, Sense Biodetection and Axis Spine Technologies. Peter is also the Managing Director for the Mercia EIS and VCT fund management business within Mercia.

Peter has been involved with a number of turnarounds and exits within the sector, including the acquisition of Surgicraft’s loss-making business where, as Managing Director, sales quadrupled within three years and the business was subsequently sold to a private equity backed business and Diagnostic World, a fast-growing diagnostic provider to the NHS.

Jon Earl

Non-Executive Director

Jon has 15 years’ experience of investing in SME’s having joined BGF in 2013.  He is primarily focussed on the management of the BGF portfolio and working with the boards of investee companies.  Jon has completed 50 investments during his career including several successful exits.


Prior to joining BGF, his investment experience was gained at Catapult Ventures.  In his earlier career, he worked at KPMG in the Midlands, where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant, and at Lloyds Pharmacy during a period of significant M&A.  He is a graduate of Durham University with a BSc (Hons) in Geography.


Leadership Team

John Gleeson

Chief Technical Officer

John is a highly motivated and experienced Start-Up executive and founder, with a strong background in Life Sciences technology commercialisation. John’s experience spans the entire product development cycle (i.e. technology conceptualisation, research and development, intellectual property exploitation, clinical and regulatory approval, and business development). In 2012, John co-founded SurgaColl Technologies, a Class III orthobiologic implantable medical devices company, based on technologies from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. As CEO/CTO, John successfully raised venture capital investments, allowing these technologies to be translated from “benchtop to bedside”.

John is a highly innovative scientist, leader and motivator and remains research active within the fields of Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials. John holds a PhD in Engineering and a Masters in Leadership and Management.

Tracey Morton

Chief Financial Officer

Tracey is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has a Master’s Degree in Business Law.

Gaining experience in a variety of sectors, Tracey has most recently been involved with an Oxford University spin off Bio-tech diagnostics company. As part of a successful team, Tracey participated in $60m fundraising in both the US and UK.

With a breadth of functional and operational experience Tracey is able to lend support in a variety of business critical areas.

Robyn Cochrane

QARA Director

With experience in both global medical device manufacture and start-up environments, Robyn offers a key understanding of the quality, regulatory and clinical requirements during new product development and introduction to the market of innovative technologies. Robyn has been responsible for driving regulatory strategy and ensuring a high level of organisational compliance to both national and international legislation. Through submissions to several regulatory agencies, she has facilitated the conduct of vital pre-market clinical work and subsequently achieved new device clearances in both the United States and European territories.

Robyn holds a Bachelor’s degree in Immunology & Microbiology and has experience within the orthopaedics, cardiology and sports medicine sectors.

Siobhan Carey

Head of Operations

Siobhán has significant experience in both the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, covering both large blue-chip organisations and start-ups. As Head of Operations, Siobhán’s role has a broad remit and is responsible for the effective transition of the projects from R&D through to pilot scale manufacture, to support the Company’s clinical studies.

She is an experienced program manager and has broad technical expertise including verification and validation (V&V), Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC), and biologics (including bone morphogenetic proteins).

She holds a PhD in Biochemistry.