Would you say it is an interesting time to take over as Interim Executive Chair at Innovate UK?
Absolutely. We’re just into the second month of being in the new UK Research and Innovation family and we are in the midst of a huge amount of great activity – especially focused on the latest phase of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
I’d like to take a moment to pay tribute to my predecessor Dr Ruth McKernan. It seems very appropriate to quote one this country’s greatest scientists, Isaac Newton, who said: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. Ruth has given us all a great legacy – ensuring that Innovate UK continues to play a vital role within UK Research and Innovation and delivering business innovation as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy. Building on this will be my first responsibility.
Ruth also cared passionately about diversity, because only by harnessing talents of everybody can we deliver the best result in our mission to grow the economy. Rest assured, I will continue that crucial work.
For those who haven’t met you yet, how would you describe yourself?
I’m a scientist, I am data driven. But I’m human, too. What I can I tell you? I am an identical twin brought up in a council house, I have three kids and I have supported Kilmarnock FC for 40 years In fact, when I moved from Scotland the hardest thing to leave behind was my season ticket.
What I want colleagues to understand more than anything else about me is that I am very approachable and I am here to listen and learn, as well as to lead.
I think it is crucial that we are all one team at Innovate UK and also a proud member of the UK Research and Innovation collective. To be an effective team, we need to go to work with a smile on our face. So I am determined to do all I can to create a positive workplace culture.
I have worked for small and large organisations and I have worked remotely, often with a long commute. So I have a good understanding some of the issues that colleagues face in their working life, whether they are based Swindon, London, or in the field.
I am very conscious of the fact that we are a national organisation, so I’m determined that our executive team and I will show our faces all over the country, whether at our regional offices or at our Catapult centres across the UK.
As you said, we are one month into being part of UK Research and Innovation, how do you see the role of Innovate UK within it?
We are at the start of a journey. What we will see is that cross-sector and cross-council work will increase and will become the norm. There will be more opportunities for our people as we work across the new structure and these will give us a different view of the world.
Our main task continues within the UK Research and Innovation – Innovate UK has a laser-like focus on our mission to create economic growth and address societal challenges. Sir Mark Walport likes to quote the motto of the Royal Society of Edinburgh – knowledge made useful – and that should guide us in all our work.
What’s at the top of your in tray?
It’s got to be the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. It is such a great responsibility – and a privilege – that Innovate UK has been entrusted by government to deliver this game-changing activity, alongside our partners. So it is incumbent on all of us to make it a success and address the Industrial Strategy grand challenges.
This is a hugely exciting task and I hope enthuses everyone at Innovate UK.
You can follow Ian on Twitter
- Innovate UK Twitter @innovateuk
- You can find out more about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund here
- For more Innovate UK videos subscribe to our YouTube channel here
- Sign up for email notifications on funding, connections & support opportunities
- Follow Innovate UK on Facebook
- Connect with Innovate UK on Linkedin