Adam Gasson / InnovateUK
show image

Innovate UK to launch search for new chair as Ian Campbell announces exit

Innovate UK is gearing up to launch a recruitment search for a new executive chair after the agency’s interim chief Ian Campbell announced plans to step down.

Campbell said on Monday (27 July) that he would be leaving his role to take on an “excellent opportunity” at a health and life sciences organisation.

The news comes just a week after Campbell warned that Innovate UK, Britain’s research and development agency, had been given “steadily less prominence, less autonomy and less capacity to act genuinely innovatively”.

Writing for the Telegraph on 20 July, Campbell and David Bott – a former executive at Innovate UK’s predecessor, the Technology Strategy Board – welcomed the government’s ambitions, reportedly driven by Dominic Cummings, to launch a British version of the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

But Campbell and Bott cautioned that Innovate UK, which was assumed into UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in April 2018, should be given “a strategic role” incorporating a so-called British Arpa focused on moonshot projects.

Campbell took on the role of executive chair of Innovate UK in 2018 when the neuroscientist Dr Ruth McKernan stood down. But while Campbell’s was only an interim appointment, nearly 12 months passed before a recruitment search was launched.

At the time, the agency told NS Tech that it planned to recruit a permanent chair by the end of 2019. The Telegraph reported today however that a date has not yet been set for Campbell’s departure.

A UKRI spokesperson told NS Tech: “UKRI is looking to recruit a new executive chair for Innovate UK. The current interim executive chair, Ian Campbell, has recently informed us that he has secured a new role in a health and life sciences organisation.

“We are incredibly grateful to Ian for all his work in his current role and in his previous one as Innovate UK’s director of life sciences. His commitment to Innovate UK has been and remains unstinting. We thank Ian for all his efforts and wish him all the best in his next job.”