Press release

Vince Cable appoints new Innovate UK Chief Executive

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced the appointment of Ruth McKernan as the new Chief Executive of Innovate UK.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has today (12 March 2015) announced the appointment of Ruth McKernan as the new Chief Executive of the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Dr McKernan will take up the appointment on 1 May 2015 until 30 April 2020.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

I am delighted to appoint Ruth McKernan as Chief Executive of Innovate UK. As the government’s innovation agency, it plays a critical role in funding innovative businesses to develop new technologies, helping them to bring new products and ideas to the marketplace.

Innovate UK have gained a talented woman in a key leadership position. She brings with her the knowledge and expertise needed to steer this expanding organisation as it provides the financial support and connections to expert business advice that increasing numbers of businesses need to drive economic growth. Making the UK a truly leading knowledge economy.

Greg Clark, Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, said:

Innovate UK is doing excellent work in helping a wide range of individuals and organisations bring to life their innovative ideas for new goods and services. With Ruth’s appointment, Innovate UK will have strong leadership as it moves forward to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Ruth McKernan said:

I am delighted to be appointed Chief Executive of Innovate UK. It is an honour to be able to build on the superb work of Iain Gray in leading this public body. The UK is world renowned for the quality of its research; turning that knowledge into businesses, jobs and sustainable economic growth is an absolute necessity for the future.

I look forward to doing all I can to ensure that we create and grow science and technology-based companies in the UK and encourage partnership right across the innovation ecosystem.

The Chair of Innovate UK, Phil Smith, said:

I’m really excited to see Ruth taking up the post of CEO of Innovate UK. Her commercial and research experience in a major innovation-based company are exactly what we need to lead our organisation in the coming years. At Innovate UK, we offer a wide range of effective programmes to help businesses to innovate, grow and deliver economic growth. I look forward to working with Ruth as Innovate UK moves to its next phase.

In addition to the new Chief Executive, the Business Secretary has also today announced the appointment of Harry Swan and Tera Allas as members of Innovate UK’s Governing Board.

Notes to Editors:

CEO Appointment

1.Innovate UK, formerly known as the Technology Strategy Board, is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Innovate UK brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.

2.This appointment has been made by the Secretary of State for BIS, following the principles set out in the Code of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (the appointment is not one which is regulated by the Commissioner). The appointment is made on merit, following an open recruitment process, and political activity plays no part in the selection process. Ruth McKernan has declared that she has not undertaken any political activity in the last 5 years.

3.Ruth McKernan gained a BSc in Pharmacology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Molecular Neuroscience from Kings College, London. A Fulbright scholarship took her to the University of California for 2 years and since then she has spent 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry, heading research sites for Merck and Pfizer on both side of the Atlantic. Most recently, she has created 2 new research units in Cambridge: Pfizer Regenerative Medicine and Neusentis, which discovers and develops medicines for pain and sensory disorders.

Ruth has worked extensively with Innovate UK in the areas of stem cells and was interim co-chair of the Cell Therapy Catapult Centre. She has been on multiple boards including the Canadian Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Spinal Research, and was chair of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council: (BBSRC) Industry panel. She now sits on the Science, Industry and Translation committee of the Royal Society, Cancer Research Technology’s Board and is a Council Member for the Medical Research Council.

As a scientist, Ruth is best known for her research on ligand-gated ion channels with over 120 publications and 15 patents. She is also an award-winning science writer and author. In 2013, Ruth was awarded a CBE for services to Business Innovation and Skills.

Board Member Appointments

4.The appointment of 2 members to Innovate UK’s Governing Board have been made in accordance with the requirements of the Code of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. The appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. Harry Swan and Tera Allas have declared that they have not undertaken any political activity in the last 5 years.

5.Harry Swan graduated from Durham University with a degree in Plant Sciences in 1998 and started working life as the Scientific Affairs Manager in the London Office of Monsanto Plc. He subsequently worked for 2 years at Regester Larkin Ltd, a London-based consultancy, as a specialist public relations consultant providing technical and scientific advice to major international companies on crisis and reputation risk management.

Harry joined Thomas Swan & Co Ltd in 2002 to launch the new Carbon Nanomaterials Business. In April 2006 he took up the position of Managing Director. He is the fourth generation of the Swan family to work at the company.

Harry is also a Council Member of the UK Chemical Industries Association, a Trustee of the Society of Chemical Industry and sits on the recently established Chemistry Growth Partnership steering committee with specific responsibility for the supply chain sub-theme.

Between January 2011 and June 2014 Harry was a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Cella Energy Ltd, a hydrogen storage spin-out from the Science and Technology Facilities Council at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, to which Thomas Swan & Co Ltd provided seed funding in January 2011.

In 2014 Harry was appointed Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Industry Education Collaboration (CIEC).

6.Tera Allas is an independent economic and strategic adviser to the UK government, the States of Jersey, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and a number of other public, private and third sector organisations. She also holds a number of non-executive governance roles.

Until recently, Tera was Deputy Head of the UK government Economic Service and Director General at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), where she led on growth strategy, analysis and better regulation and authored an influential report on science and innovation leadership. Before joining BIS in 2011, Tera held Chief Economist and Director of Analysis roles at the Department for Transport and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Previously, Tera worked for 10 years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. She covered a wide range of geographies, sectors and functions, but worked most frequently with energy and other industrial companies on corporate and business unit strategy. Tera also co-led McKinsey’s global microeconomics practice. Tera holds a MSc in Technology and Industrial Economics (with distinction) from Helsinki University of Technology and an MBA (with distinction) from INSEAD.