Phase Focus Ltd


Non-Executive Chairman – Microscopy

Accelerating commercial development and spearheading growth

Phase Focus Ltd is a rapidly growing, high technology spin-out from the University of Sheffield.

Established in 2007, it is focused on the commercialisation of a patented disruptive lens-free technology – the Phase Focus Virtual Lens®.

This technology is revolutionising microscopy and imaging by eliminating the limitations and imperfections of conventional lenses and bringing greater fidelity, accuracy and magnifying power to bear in markets as diverse as contact lens manufacture and drug discovery.

With the ongoing support of experienced investors, Phase Focus has been able to accelerate the commercialisation of its technology and invest in the development of new applications.

As the business embarked upon this transition into a commercial entity, it was seen as the ideal time in the company’s evolution to augment the board.

This led to a requirement for an industry-focused Chairman with the profile, knowledge, contacts and experience to confirm the commercial strategy and spearhead the next phase of growth.

Having worked together previously, Phase Focus chose to partner with Intramezzo for this pivotal appointment, based on the search firm’s experience in helping boards of early stage businesses.

The role required an exceptional Chairman to help shape and deliver a strategy for growth that would build shareholder value and put the company on a path towards a successful exit.

What we did

The first step was to work closely with the key stakeholders, including the Phase Focus CEO, Ian Pykett, and incumbent Chairman, David Baynes, as well as the investors, Ombu Group and Fusion IP to define the role and ideal candidate.

Once the detailed specification had been developed and agreed, Intramezzo utilised its unique multichannel search approach to reach beyond typical networks.

Having previously worked with Phase Focus, Intramezzo was able to start the process from an informed position with a strong understanding of the board dynamics and cultural requirements. Both of which were applied in the selection process.

After identifying, approaching and profiling the target candidates, Intramezzo submitted a shortlist of four exceptionally strong potential Chairmen.

Each had a well-developed interest in the opportunity and a keen desire to play a part in the business’s growth trajectory.

The outcome

Due to the strength of the shortlist, the board decided they would like to appoint two candidates, Paul Atherton as Chairman and Charles Holroyd as Non-Executive Director.

Paul is a highly strategic and successful technology entrepreneur. He co-founded Queensgate Instruments and was its Managing Director from 1988 until its sale for more than

£200 million in March 2000. He, therefore, has an in-depth knowledge of the instrumentation sector and how to scale a business to a successful exit.

Since his time at Queensgate, Paul has enjoyed a prosperous career as a Chairman at both C2V and Midaz Laser, where he had held the positions until their respective acquisitions by Thermo-Fisher in 2009 and Coherent in 2012.

Up until October 2013, Paul had been Chairman of Infinitesima. He is also currently Chairman of NanoVentures and Nexeon as well as sitting on the board of Imperial Innovations.


Speaking on his appointment, Paul said: “I am delighted to be taking on this role. Phase Focus has already made some excellent progress and I am very much looking forward to working with the team to build on these achievements.”

Charles has a highly complementary background and, for the last three years, has been Group Business Development Director of Oxford Instruments plc, a £350 million turnover, London Stock Exchange-listed manufacturer of hightechnology instrumentation. In this capacity, he has held responsibility for (among other things) acquisitions, divestments and joint ventures.

Previously, Charles was Managing Director of the Oxford Instruments Analytical business unit, as well as being responsible for Oxford Instruments’ commercial activities and brand development in Brazil, Russia, India and China.

What they did

Both Paul and Charles have already made an impact on the business, augmenting the strategic direction to position the company on an exciting growth trajectory.

Commenting on the appointments, David Baynes (CEO of Fusion IP and outgoing Phase Focus Chairman) said:

“I am delighted to welcome Paul and Charles to the board. Together, these new directors will bring a wealth of technical, marketing, operational and strategic experience to our board, which will be most welcome and valuable at this important juncture in the history of Phase Focus”

“The process was thorough but efficient and a high level of professionalism was maintained at all times. We look forward to working with Intramezzo again as we continue to grow our company.”

Ian Pykett, CEO, Phase Focus