Professor Terry Wilkins

Professor Terry Wilkins


Career Profile & Impact

Professor Terry Wilkins has 33 years industrial and 14 years’ academic experience at CTO, COO and CEO Director levels in GE Healthcare; the Nobel Laureate Christian De Duve Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels: ICI and University of Leeds respectively, as an innovator in high-value manufacturing for the medical device, biotechnology, nanotechnology, advanced materials and environmental engineering industry sectors, yielding substantial economic and societal impact worldwide. Examples of his innovations include:

  1. Nanoparticle free-analyte radioimmunoassay for metabolic diseases launched in 1982 yielding €1.7billion of sales per year (92% exported globally outside the UK). Thyroid diseases affect ~12.5% of the world’s population but with early detection are treatable thus prolonging health and life. The invention lives on, approved by NICE (2014), for early detection and management of prostate cancer measuring free-PSA yielding €918 million sales per year (CAGR=89%). Prostate cancer effects 11.5% of men world wise
  2. High-throughput chemiluminescence immunoassay system launched in 1985. Applications include oncology, gynaecology, haematology, metabolic and infectious diseases. The business was acquired by J&J in 1991 for $1016 million and currently earns $1.7 billion sales per year.
  3. Trade sale of nanoparticle clinical immunoassay robotics spin-out SME in 1988 for $12 million, from ACADE (academic developments SA), Nobel Laureate Christian de Duve’s Institute of Cellular & Molecular Pathology, Brussels, Belgium. His team secure licences to US, German and Japanese multinationals for use of 141 immunoassays/  His research also led to world firsts for HIV, MS and Lyme disease clinical diagnostics.
  4. World’s first and most successful DNA fingerprinting business (Cellmark). Huge societal impact on policing, paternity resolution and immigration since 1990. Current world sales are $2.1billions per year.  [NB: Innovation built on collaboration with Sir Alex Jeffries and Sir Alex Markham’s world-beating science]. His team also developed the first clinical assays for infectious and inherited  diseases. This business is currently a $6.2billion globale market
  5. His team re-engineered ICI’s nano-crystallite Titanium dioxide manufacturing worldwide on or consumer products, using on-line Raman spectroscopy and multivariate process control. It returned a €3 billion/year business to £300 million profit/year after several years of near zero profits. The invention increased product purity to ~100% but also substantially reduced energy use, CO2 emissions and solid waste emissions (~zero) to the environment. 
  6. His team invented a novel FTIR on-line measurement and control system essential for the success of global 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane (KLEA 134a) HFC refrigerant gas manufacturing plants replacing CFCs. In 2014, 2016 & 2018 the UN, EU, NASA, WMO, NOAA 2014 joint climate change panels showed HFCs have now reversed ozone layer thinning. The sector currently makes $17 billion HFC sales/year.
  7. His engineering team reduced the organic chemical pollution into the river Tees, UK by 99% in 18 months from ICI’s giant Teesside manufacturing complex by developing low cost on-line total organic carbon sensors, environmental engineering and large chemical complex business management.  These devices are used worldwide (Sales= $1.3billion/year) 
  8. Appointed Europe’s first professor of Nanomanufacturing on joining Leeds University in 2005. He established its Nanomanufacturing Institute as an Open Innovation ecosystem ranging over: a) nanomedicine, b) industrial nanomaterials, c) nanoelectronics d) EHS risks of engineered nanoparticles and e) management science and policy making for emergent technology manufacturing.

UK & EU Research and Innovation Policy

​Success as an industrial innovator has led to service pro bono as a high-level expert advisor (and committee chair) to the UK government since 1992 (BIS, DTI) including the Minister of Science & Universities (2011-to date); the European Commission (since 1994) and EU Parliament (since 2008), covering, nanotechnology, advanced materials, production technologies (NMP) and the Marie Curie mobility program. His economic analysis for the EC’s NMP Directorate’s in the FP6 Expert Advisory Group (2002-6) led to it becoming the EC’s lead directorate for nanotechnology in FP7 and the EU’s annual R&I investment for nanotechnology exceeding that of the US National Nanotechnology Initiative (€2.0 billion & $1.6 billion respectively) in 2013. More recently, 2016, Lux Research Inc., New York has shown the EU now has 36% and the US 32% of a $4.4 trillion/year market for nanotechnology. More recently, as chair of the NMP Expert Advisory Group 2007-2020, he created a new general theory of open innovation ecosystems (OIEs) and led the preparation of 10 EU R&I policy papers tackling the critical success factors for best practice in innovation to maximise the economic benefits from the €6.7 billion Key Enabling Technologies R&I programme in Horizon 2020 (2014-20).

EU Research & Innovation Projects Track Record

He has led large collaborative industrial engineering research and innovation projects in all 8 EC framework programmes from 1982 -2020 which is an UK and EU unique record.  He has won for the UK a total EU grant income ~€139 million, all invested in the development of large numbers of able young engineers and scientists to work on high-value product and manufacturing technology innovations in his chosen fields of commercial application.  

Innovation Prizes, Awards & medals

Prof Wilkins has been awarded 10 prizes for industrial innovations with high global economic, human and societal impact. These include 2 Prince of Wales prizes for Industrial Innovation, Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering, London University Honorary Doctorate in Engineering, Inst M&C Callendar Medal and Freedom of the City of London.

He is also a pioneer in 3 new engineering disciplines: process analytical technology [i](PAT) and nanomanufacturing[ii]By combining both recently, he and his colleagues have made major breakthroughs in Nano-QSARs and developed “Safe/Green by design[iii] manufacturing of engineered nanomaterials,


[i] Process Analytical Technology: Engineering of on-line ‘high information content’measurement devices together with advanced control systems to optimise product quality, yield, process economics and accelerate regulatory approval e.g. a) REACH for chemicals & materials in EU and b) FDA & EMA for medical products in the US and EU.

Nanomanufacturing: Manufacturing of materials and devices wherein one or more dimensions of the products are at a scale of <100 nanometres.

Research interests

He became Europe’s first professor of Nanomanufacturing on joining Leeds University in 2005, an endowed chair, where his personal research ranges over:

  1. Nanomedicine,
  2. Industrial nanomaterials,
  3. Nanoelectronics
  4. Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) risks of engineered nanoparticles
  5. Management and policy making for emergent technology manufacturing including:
  • New models of innovation ecosystems for key enabling technologies (KETs)
  • Best practice in innovation
  • Accelerating innovation
  • Innovation training
  • Frugal innovation
  • International cooperation in innovation

Current Research & Innovation Projects

These include: a) EU H2020 BioRIMA project for “Safe-by-Design” of nano-enabled artificial hip joints and targeted drug delivery agents; b) EU H2020 NanoCarb ITN MSCA project; c) Royal Academy of Engineering UK National & International Collaboration policy for accelerating innovation of rapid Covid-19 clinical diagnosis tests to clinical application; d) new theory of Alzheimer’s disease based on cytotoxicity and reverse (bio)chemical engineering at the nanoscale and e) developing the EC’s new Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI) framework for all Horizon Europe 2021-2028 R&I.


  • BSc Chemistry, University of London
  • PhD Chemistry University of London
  • Honorary DEng University of London

Professional memberships

  • Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Chartered Chemist
  • Fellowship of the Institute of Measurement & Control
  • Chartered Engineer
  • Liveryman of the Worshipful Company Scientific instrument Makers of London

Research groups and institutes

  • Complex Systems and Processes
  • Functional Materials
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