Randal Charlton is the executive-in-residence at TechTown, a Detroit research and technology park. He has had a varied career with a common theme --- starting businesses dedicated to commercializing research in animal, plant and human technology --- and is now focusing his efforts on entrepreneurs over age 50 through the Boom! The New Economy program.
Charlton co-founded Asterand, a supplier of human tissues for drug discovery and development, in early 2000, which became the first anchor tenant of the Wayne State University Research and Technology Park (TechTown). In ten years, with an investment of less than $11.6 million, Asterand has established a global repository containing many thousands of samples from cooperating hospitals on four continents. Asterand revenues grew from $100,000 in 2001 to $18 million in 2007. Asterand became fully public company in 2007 and Randal Charlton stepped down from the company to become the executive director of TechTown. Since joining TechTown, the organization has secured over $12 million in foundation and federal support for the development of programs to support entrepreneurship and to build-out and expand the TechTown incubator facility. TechTown has grown from 100,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet and the tenant base has multiplied several times.
As a young man, Charlton won three national awards in Britain for technical journalism and at the age of 23 was voted the best agricultural journalist in Britain. He became interested in the challenges of commercializing a new technology and switched to a business career in his late twenties.
One of his startup companies, FarmKey, Ltd., specialized in finding new ways to grow food in desert climates. FarmKey’s accomplishments included a multi-million dollar plan backed by the British government to build an agricultural research station at Alexandria University in Egypt. Charlton was also recognized in the 1980s for his work in the “greening of Saudi Arabia” with a formal invitation to dine with the King of Saudi Arabia at a banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor of London.
He was a pioneer in the use of embryo transfer and artificial insemination as a way to introduce new, more productive breeds of cattle to many countries of the world. This work led to his election as the first chairman of a national cattle organization.
Charlton’s accomplishments include co-founding Countrywide Communications, one of the most successful food and agriculture public relations companies in the world. He has written three books, contributed to numerous publications and retains an interest in writing and broadcasting as a way of introducing new technology to wider audiences.
Charlton served MichBio, the Michigan Life Sciences Industry Association, as director for three years and as chairman for three years. In 2007, his work with Asterand won him the Heimlich Award for accomplishments in medical technology. That same year he was appointed Special Assistant and Economic Advisor to Wayne State University’s President. He currently serves as the Wayne State University Entrepreneur-in-Residence. In 2008, Charlton was elected as chairman to the Wayne State University College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Board of Visitors and also won the New Enterprise Forum’s Entrepreneur of the Year award.
In 2009, Charlton was inducted as one of Lawrence Tech University’s Grant Thornton Leaders & Innovators and was a Payne-Pulliam School of Trade and Commerce Door Opener recipient. Charlton was one of Crain’s Detroit Business’s 2009 Newsmakers of the Year.
In 2010, Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan, in partnership with DBusiness magazine and News/Talk radio station 760AM WJR, announced Charlton’s selection as one of their “Champions of the New Economy.”