SFI Board Members

Ms Ann Riordan

Chairman of the Board of SFI

An experienced board member, Ann Riordan has held a number of senior positions in the ICT sector. Notably she established Microsoft Ireland in 1990 and was instrumental in establishing the Fastrack to IT (FIT) initiative which has to date trained over 12,000 long-term unemployed people. She has served on the Information Society Steering Committee and the Irish Council for Science, Technology & Innovation. Since her retirement from Microsoft she has served as: President of the Institute of Directors in Ireland; Chairman of the National Standards Authority of Ireland; Chairman of Tourism Ireland; Chairman of the Dublin Regional Tourism Authority and as a public interest director of the EBS Building Society.

Prof Mark Ferguson

Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland

Professor Mark W.J. Ferguson commenced as Director General of Science Foundation Ireland in January 2012 and as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland in October 2012. Prof Ferguson is a founding member of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative, Chair of the eHealth Ireland Committee, a member of EU High Level Expert Group on H2020 Impact and has been involved in a number of international reviews of R&D systems, including Hungary and Canada.

Mark Ferguson was appointed Professor in Life Sciences at the University of Manchester in 1984, aged 28, when he was the youngest Professor in Britain. He has held a number of administrative posts including Head of Department and Dean. He played a key role in the internationally acclaimed restructuring of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester. Mark has wide ranging research interests which focus on cellular and molecular mechanisms in scarring and wound healing, developmental mechanisms in normal and cleft palate formation, alligator and crocodile biology. He is the discoverer of scar free embryonic wound healing and temperature dependent sex determination in alligators and crocodiles. He is the recipient of numerous international awards, prizes, medals and honours for his research work, including the 2002 European Science Prize, and is the author of 325 research papers and book chapters, 8 books and 60 patent families. Mark has supervised over 70 PhD students and been awarded more than £70M in International peer reviewed research grants from major Research Councils and Charities. He has delivered hundreds of plenary lectures at International Scientific Conferences and contributed to numerous TV and Radio programmes on Scientific Research and its utilisation.

Mark has a deep interest in translating scientific research findings into successful commercial entities. He founded and funded (including a £13.5M state of the art building) the Manchester Biosciences Incubator, which has successfully mentored and housed a number of start up companies. Based on inventions and patents from his University research, Mark co –founded (with Dr Sharon O’Kane) Renovo, a biotechnology company developing novel pharmaceutical therapies to prevent scarring and accelerate wound healing. As CEO, since foundation, Mark built and led Renovo from 2 people to a peak staff of approx 200, and from being a small private start up to a listed public company. He was personally involved at every step of this evolution: hiring key staff and Directors, raising £32M of private International Venture Capital, pursuing commercial research and development including clinical trials of potential products , interacting with International Regulatory Authorities, licensing ( including negotiating a US $830M plus royalties deal for the lead drug ), liaising with major banks , analysts and investment funds including an IPO on the London Stock Exchange raising £67.5M, and restructuring Renovo in response to advanced clinical trial data and commercial opportunities.

Mark is currently Honorary Professor of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester.

Mark has been President of a number of Learned Societies eg European Tissue Repair Society, chaired the first UK Government’s Health and Life Sciences Foresight Panel, and served on many committees eg the UKTI Life Sciences Marketing Board, the Committee of Safety of Medicines Biological Subcommittee and the European Space Agency. He has served on the Board or Scientific Advisory Board of a number of International Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Companies.

Mark Ferguson, was born in Northern Ireland , attended school in Ballykelly and Coleraine  and graduated from the Queens University of Belfast with degrees in Dentistry (BDS 1st class honours), Anatomy and Embryology (BSc 1st class honours, PhD) and Medical Sciences (DMedSc), holds Fellowships from the Royal Colleges of Surgeons in Ireland (FFD), and Edinburgh (FDS) and is a Founding Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci). He is a member or Fellow of a number of learned Societies, and was made a “Commander of the British Empire” (CBE) by the Queen in 1999 for services to Health and Life Sciences.

Ms Máire Geoghegan-Quinn

Former EU Commisioner for Research, Innovation and Science

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn served as the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science from 2010-2014. As Commissioner she established the ‘Innovation Union’ initiative; progressed the European Research Area; and delivered the largest ever research framework programme, Horizon 2020, with a 30% budget increase (€80 billion in total for research and innovation). She had political responsibility for two directorates general – the Director General for Research and Innovation and the Joint Research Council.

Máire previously served as a Fianna Fáil TD for the Galway West constituency (1975–1997); and held several Ministerial positions including: Minister for the Gaeltacht (1979–1981), becoming the first female Cabinet Minister since the foundation of the Irish State; Minister for European Affairs (1987–1991); and Minister for Justice (1993–1994). She holds a Degree of Doctor of Laws from NUIG, a degree of Doctor of Science from UCD (both honoris causa); and the Légion d’honneur among other awards. She is a Member of the European Joint Research Centre (JRC) Alumni Network and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

Ms Bernie Cullinan

CEO Pragma Advisory

Ms. Bernie Cullinan is CEO of Pragma Advisory, a company providing strategic and operational advisory solutions for companies in the SME sector in a broad range of domains. Bernie is also a director of Crest Solutions Limited, Crest Solutions (T.S) UK Limited and Each&Other. 

Bernie has held C-level positions in a number of Irish technology companies and continues to be active in this sector.  In these roles, Bernie has played a key role in driving growth and shareholder value in the US, UK and Ireland.  Bernie is a past Chairman of the Irish Software Association. 

Bernie has a BComm from UCD, an MBA from UCD and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). Bernie is a past President of CIMA and is a member of the DCU Educational Trust.

Prof Sir Tom Blundell, FRS, FMedSci

Director of Research and Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry, University of Cambridge


Tom leads an active research team focusing on molecular and structural biology of growth factors, receptor activation, signal transduction and DNA repair, important in cancer, tuberculosis and familial diseases. He has published 549 research papers, including 30 in Nature.


Co-founder Astex Therapeutics in 1999, an oncology company that has eight drugs in clinical trials and that was sold for $886 million in 2013 as Astex Pharma to Otsuka. He was on the Board of Celltech (1996 to 2006), a consultant for Pfizer (1981 to 1990; 2014-), Science Advisory Boards of UCB (2006 - ), SKB (1997 -2000 ) Syntaxin (2009 - ), Isogenica (2008- )  He has developed new approaches and software for modelling proteins and structure-guided, fragment-based drug discovery.


Tom Blundell is Director of Research and Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, where he was Sir William Dunn Professor (1996 - 2009), and Chair of School of Biological Sciences (2003 – 2009). He has previously held teaching and research positions in the Universities of London, Sussex and Oxford.

Roles in Public Bodies, Royal Commissions and Charities

A member of PM Margaret Thatcher’s Advisory Council on Science & Technology, ACOST (1988-1990), Founding CEO of BBSRC, 1991-1996 (Chair from 2009), Chair of Royal Commission on Environment (1998-2005), Deputy Chair, Institute of Cancer Research since 2008 & President of UK Science Council since 2011.


Knighted in 1997. Member several academies: Royal Society (1984) EMBO (1984); Academia Europaea (1993); Indian National Science Academy (1995); Academy Medical Sciences (1999) & The World Academy of Sciences, TWAS (2008).

1987 Gold Medal, Institute Biotechnology; 1987 Krebs Medal, FEBS; 1988 Ciba Medal; 1988 Feldberg Prize Biology & Medicine; 1996 Gold Medal, Society Chemical Industry; 1998 Pfizer European Prize Innovation; 1998 Bernal Medal, Royal Society;  2013 Biochemical Society Award; 2014 Cambridge Philosophical Society Prize.

Fellow, Sidney Sussex College Cambridge; Honorary Fellow: Brasenose & Linacre Colleges, Oxford; & Birkbeck College; Honorary Doctorates from 16 Universities


Spending time with family, walking, international travel, modern jazz and opera. Some of this is recorded in Desert Island Discs in 2006.

Mr Aidan Donnelly

MD Advest Management ltd / Chairman NORA

Aidan W. Donnelly, is the M.D. of Advest Management Ltd a private equity fund management company. In addition he is Chairman of NORA, the Irish government agency responsible for Ireland's National Oil Reserves and has a number of interests in renewable and environmental start-up companies.  Aidan has extensive experience in the development and management of technology-oriented multinationals in Ireland such as Xerox (Europe) Ltd. Quantum Peripheral Products Ltd, Puritan Bennett, Cabletron Systems, Betdaq (Global Betting Exchange Ltd.) and most recently, ServeCentric Ltd.  For over 12 years, Aidan also served in the Irish army, holding the rank of Captain in the Army Ordnance Corp. He earned a M.B.A. (UCG), M.I.E. (UCD) and a B.Sc. (UCG). He is a Chartered Director (C.Dir.) with the IOD.

Ms Mary Doyle

Deputy Secretary, Department of Education and Skills

Ms. Doyle took up her current role in the Department of Education and Skills in June 2012 where she leads the Higher Education Division in the Department.  She has worked in the Departments of the Taoiseach, Health, and was Director General in the Office/Department of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.  She has been a member of the National Economic and Social Council and the National Statistics Board and a Forum Member of the Economic and Social Research Institute.  She holds a degree in European Studies from the University of Limerick and a Masters in Public Service Management from Trinity/Irish Management Institute.

Dr Pat Duane

GM and VP Corporate Development with Creganna Medical

Pat Duane is first and foremost a scientist, who has spent most of his 21 years working in the medical device industry sector. Currently Pat is GM and VP Corporate Development with Creganna Medical. He has extensive national and international leadership experience and currently leads a diverse business organisation with cross functional representatives across 3 continents. Prior experience includes senior business, research and operational roles in Medtronic Inc.  Pat holds a Doctorate in Business from Henley Management College, London and his area of interest is the post-acquisition integration of small or medium enterprises into multi-national corporations. Pat holds a Masters in Engineering Design from University College Dublin and a BSc. in Applied Physics from National University of Ireland, Galway. Pat is passionate about innovation and a named inventor on over 12 internationally issued patents.

Prof Liam Madden

Corporate Vice President Xilinx, Inc.

Liam Madden is senior vice president of engineering at Xilinx. He leads a world-wide organization of over 500 R&D professionals, including teams in Dublin and Cork. Mr. Madden has spent more than 30 years in the US semiconductor industry where he has contributed to a range of industry leading products and technologies. Based in Silicon Valley, he has worked with established companies and start-ups, including a leadership role in a successful IPO. Mr. Madden has extensive experience incubating novel technologies, most recently commercializing the industry’s first 3-D stacked computer chip which was based on seven years of Xilinx engineering research. He holds five patents in semiconductor technology and is a regular keynote speaker at international conferences. He graduated with a BE from UCD, an M.Eng. from Cornell University and is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Ireland (FIEI). In June 2013, he was appointed an Adjunct Professor of Electrical, Electronic and Communication Engineering at UCD.

Mr Dermot Mulligan

Assistant Secretary General/Head of Innovation and Investment in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Dermot is Assistant Secretary General/Head of the Innovation and Investment Division of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. He reports to the Secretary General of the Department and the Minister and his areas of  responsibility include formulation and implementation of Government policy on Science, Technology and Innovation, Enterprise development, North/South Trade and Business Development programmes and Ireland’s involvement in a range of international research and technology programmes involving the European Union and the European Space Agency. He has previously worked in a range of Government Departments including the Departments of Health, Finance and Education & Skills. He holds a first degree in Law and an M.Sc. (Economics) in Policy Studies from Trinity College Dublin and an MBA from the University of Warwick.

Ms Geraldine Ruane

Chief Operating Officer in Trinity College Dublin

Ms. Geraldine Ruane is an innovative senior executive with a track record of leading the transformation of blue chip multi-disciplined organisations in both the private and public sectors, creating high performing national and international profitable organisations.  As a Chief Executive, Board Member, Chartered Director and Accountant Geraldine possesses broad and deep experience and knowledge of customer focused growth companies in various sectors including Pharmaceutical, ICT, Financial Services, Industrial Services, and Higher Education.  In these sectors Geraldine has developed and implemented strategies, designed, developed and implemented major change management programmes. Known for her consultative management style, she has a keen focus on strong leadership, team development and delivering significant business results.  Geraldine currently holds the position of Chief Operating Officer in Trinity College Dublin.

Mr Barry O'Sullivan

CEO Altocloud

Barry O'Sullivan is CEO of Altocloud, a software company with a mission of improving customer engagement experiences for ecommerce and inside sales. Prior to Altocloud, he was Senior Vice President at Cisco Systems and has been General Manager of several multi-billion dollar divisions including Collaboration, Unified Communications and Voice over IP, which he led from number six to the number one market share position worldwide. At Cisco, he was responsible for an R&D budget of on excess of $1 billion and a global team of 4,000 engineers.

O'Sullivan has spent most of his career in Silicon Valley, joining Cisco in 2002, having previously been General Manager of Nortel's contact centre software business. He is also co-founder of the Irish Technology Leadership Group, a group of top Irish American technology executives. He also serves on the board of Cope Galway, a charitable organization focused on reducing isolation and homelessness. He holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from University College Cork and a master's degree in computer science from the University of Limerick, as well as a master's degree in business administration from Santa Clara University, California. Married with four children, he divides his time between Palo Alto, California and Galway, Ireland.

Major functions of the SFI Board

  • Advising and assisting the Director General and senior management of the Foundation in formulating and achieving the Foundation’s mission
  • Providing for the preparation, implementation, and review of strategies and operational plans that promote the undertaking of basic research of the highest international standards in Ireland—particularly in areas that are related to Ireland’s economic competitiveness.
  • Ensuring SFI compliance with corporate governance requirements for State bodies.
  • Approving annual and multi-annual budgets for the Foundation and ensuring appropriate accountability for the disbursement and management of these budgets.
  • Establishing the organisational structures and resources required to enable the Foundation to undertake its functions efficiently and effectively.
  • Providing annual and ongoing review of the results, impacts, and organisational effectiveness of the Foundation.