News story: Innovate UK appointments confirmed

The appointments of Gerard Grech, Priya Guha and Simon Devonshire have been confirmed today (21 April 2017) by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Innovate UK finds and drives science and technology opportunities that will grow the UK’s economy – delivering productivity, new jobs and exports and keeping the country globally competitive in the race for future prosperity.

The board regularly reviews the management and performance of Innovate UK and ensures the organisation delivers its strategic priorities and that resource is allocated effectively in the delivery of these objectives.

Gerard Grech is currently the chief executive officer of Tech City UK, an organisation focused on accelerating the growth of digital businesses in London and across cities in the UK.

Priya Guha is Ecosystem General Manager of RocketSpace, a London start-up space. Priya was a UK diplomat for 20 years, with her most recent post being British Consul General to San Francisco.

Simon Devonshire OBE is co-founder of Talent Cupboard and was Entrepreneur in Residence at the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

These appointments have been made in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments. The appointments process is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

News story: Acas council reappointments confirmed

The reappointment to the Acas Council of the 4 members has been confirmed today (21 April 2017) by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. It supports good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success.

The Acas Council sets the strategic direction, policies and priorities for the organisation, and makes sure that the organisation meets its agreed strategic objectives and targets. It consists of the Chair and 11 employer, trade union and independent members, appointed by the Secretary of State.

Sir Brendan Barber, Chair of the Acas Council said:

I am delighted that the Acas Council will continue to benefit from my colleagues’ invaluable experience in the field of employment relations. They play an essential role as independent and impartial workplace experts.

I look forward to working with them for another 3 years strengthening our reputation as Britain’s number one employment relations service for businesses and employees.


Jane McNeill QC

Jane McNeill is a member and former Head of Old Square Chambers, a leading employment set of chambers. She has been involved in many important and test cases in the fields of employment and discrimination law, including the part-time workers’ pensions (Preston) litigation, the test cases in the Supreme Court and Court of Justice of the European Union concerning the calculation of holiday pay (Williams v BA) and the equal pay litigation.

She has acted for individuals, groups of individuals and NHS Trusts in cases at first instance and appellate level involving whistleblowing and the interpretation and implementation of disciplinary processes and procedures.

She has been a Queen’s Counsel since 2002, a fee-paid Employment Judge since 2000 and has sat as a Recorder in the County Court since 2006. She is an accredited and practising mediator.

Mike Gooddie

Mike is Director of Human Resources for the Canal & River Trust, prior to that he was vice president of Labour Relations for Asda.

Mike began his career with Shell as a graduate trainee working in both the UK and Australia, before progressing on to senior HR positions with British Airways, GNER and the BBC. He has held non-executive positions for Manchester Airport Group (MAG), Community Integrated Care (CIC) and York Archaeological Trust (YAT). He is a graduate of Leicester University and a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA).

Neil Carberry

Neil Carberry is Director for Employment, Skills and Public Services at the CBI, a role he has held since February 2011. Neil has worked at the CBI for the past decade on a wide range of business issues, including employment, employee relations, pay, education, skills and public service reform.

He is a member of the CBI’s Management Board. Before joining the CBI, Neil worked in consultancy on HR issues for financial services firms. He is a member of the Low Pay Commission, which makes recommendations about the level of the UK’s National Minimum Wage. He has an MSc in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics and is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD. He is the Chair of BusinessEurope’s Employment Working Group.

Paul Nowak

Paul Nowak was appointed Assistant General Secretary of the TUC in February 2013, and was subsequently confirmed as Deputy General Secretary by the TUC General Council in February 2016.

He has responsibility for a number of key policy areas including public services and transport, and for the TUC’s organisation in the English regions and Wales, union organising, inter-union relations and the organisation of the TUC’s annual Congress.

These reappointments have been made in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments. The appointments process is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

News story: Lord Robert Smith named new chairman of the British Business Bank

Business Minister Margot James has today (21 April 2017) announced the appointment of the Lord Smith of Kelvin as the new non-executive chairman of the British Business Bank.

Lord Robert Smith joins the UK’s national development bank for businesses with over 20 years of chairman experience, most recently as Chair of the Green Investment Bank and of the Scotland Devolution Commission. Lord Smith would begin the role following the successful completion of the sale of the Green Investment Bank, officially taking over from interim Chair, Christina McComb.

Business Minister Margot James said:

With a wealth of knowledge and experience of venture and development capital, I am pleased to be announcing that Lord Robert Smith is joining the British Business Bank.

The British Business Bank plays a crucial role in helping the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses access the finance they need, which will be a great match with Lord Robert Smith’s evident passion for, and background in, supporting the UK’s start-ups and small businesses. I would also like to pay thanks to Christina McComb who has acted as interim Chair for the Bank during the search for a new Chair.

The British Business Bank manages government’s access to finance programmes for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), ensuring finance markets work for smaller businesses, allowing them to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity.

The government’s Industrial Strategy is committed to further improving access to finance across the country, with a £400 million government investment into the bank announced in the government’s autumn statement in 2016. This is expected to attract £1 billion of private sector equity finance, to help small businesses access the capital they need to scale-up.

Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank, said:

We are pleased Lord Smith will become our new Chairman. Lord Smith’s impressive track record of leadership and his depth of experience will be invaluable to the Bank as it enters a new period of growth and development.

Interim Chair Christina McComb took up the position after the inaugural Chairman Ron Emerson stepped down in September 2016. The British Business Bank is currently supporting more than 54,000 businesses, working with over 90 finance partners. Its programmes support over £3.4 billion of finance to UK smaller businesses and participate in a further £5.1 billion of finance to UK small mid-cap businesses.

Press release: David Sweeney appointed Executive Chair Designate of Research England

The Higher Education and Research Bill, subject to Parliamentary approval, proposes to establish Research England as a Council of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to undertake the England only research and knowledge exchange functions currently performed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

During the transition to UKRI David will continue in his current role as Director of Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange within HEFCE alongside working as part of the shadow UKRI executive team to set up the new organisation. David will then transition to become the first Executive Chair of Research England upon the creation of UKRI in April 2018.

Research England will oversee the England-only functions in relation to research and knowledge exchange, including providing grant funding to English universities for research and knowledge exchange activities, developing and implementing the Research Excellence Framework in partnership with the UK Higher Education (HE) funding bodies, oversight of sustainability of the HE research base in England and overseeing the £900 million UK Research Partnership Investment Fund. This will secure and enhance the role of the dual support funding system for research, the protection of which will be enshrined in legislation for the first time as part of these reforms.

Announcing the appointment Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

David’s contribution to the UK’s world renowned science and innovation sector will ensure he will establish a strong, strategic vision for Research England. The appointment demonstrates the outstanding leadership he’s shown to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and his extensive experience will be vital to the creation of UK Research and Innovation.

Sir Mark Walport, UKRI Chief Executive Designate said:

I am delighted that David Sweeney will continue his fine work that he has been undertaking at HEFCE when he becomes the first Research England Executive Chair in UKRI, subject to Parliament.

David Sweeney, Executive Chair Designate of Research England said:

I am delighted to be taking on this role. The UK’s research system is among the very best globally, with over 90% of our world-leading publications having university authorship. The partnerships between our universities and business, health, cultural and social organisations are central to economic growth as well as social and cultural impact. Research England will be an advocate to government on behalf of universities and challengers to universities to deliver to national agendas. The strategic decisions which universities make are central to the future of cities, regions, the nation and our world.

Research England will work with the other councils in UKRI to enhance our global research position and will liaise with the funding bodies in the devolved organisations to contribute at UK as well as England only level. We will also collaborate with the Office for Students as teaching and research agendas in universities are intrinsically linked to deliver both the highly-skilled graduates and new knowledge which our nation needs.

The role of executive chairs will be crucial to the ambition for UKRI to be a world-leading research and innovation organisation. Each of the 9 councils that will be part of UKRI will be led by an executive chair, a role which will combine the responsibilities of the current chair and chief executive of each council.

Notes to editors

1) The Higher Education and Research Bill proposes the creation of a new body – UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – that will be the strategic centre of the UK’s research and innovation funding system. It will provide a strong and unified voice championing UK research and innovation, facilitating dialogue with government and partners on the global stage. The Bill also establishes 9 Councils within UKRI - 7 of the Councils reflect the functions of the existing Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

2) David Sweeney is a statistician and Director (Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange) at the Higher Education Funding Council for England. After gaining First Class Honours in Statistics at the University of Aberdeen, he worked at 2 Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) research institutes, as a consultant statistician then developing mathematical models of plant growth. His work on the computational aspect of this led into broader applications of IT in education and research, and he was Director of Information Services at Royal Holloway, University of London, before moving into university leadership as Vice-Principal (Communications, Enterprise and Research). In this role he was responsible for research strategy and for developing Royal Holloway’s research-led commercial and consultancy activities.

He joined HEFCE in 2008 as Director (Research, Innovation and Skills) and led the development and implementation of the first Research Excellence Framework including the new impact agenda element. He is currently responsible for research policy and funding, knowledge exchange and university/business relations. He also leads on the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund and held the Health Education brief until recently. He has advised many overseas governments on research assessment and funding and was a member of the Finch Group on Open Access to Research Outputs.

David was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in 2012, was Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Newcastle, NSW in 2015 and is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.

Time to take a break

We know that lots of you have been beavering away since the start of the year, working hard to keep your business going. So surely you deserve a break by now?

Taking a break from work will reduce your stress levels, and you’ll be more productive when you return rested and refreshed. The same goes for your hardworking staff!

Here’s a selection of our Business Rewards holiday and travel offers that you and your staff will love:

Camping – without the hassle

Camping is one of the most affordable ways of holidaying, but if you’re travelling to Europe, making sure you’ve got all the gear you need soon takes up a lot of space, not to mention weight!

With Eurocamp, all the hard work is done for you – all tents come already pitched and equipped with all the essentials for a comfortable stay. All you need to bring is your clothes and other personal bits to start relaxing as soon as you arrive! We’re offering customers up to 30% off Eurocamp holidays.

Make your getaway with National Express


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Timetastic – a nicer way to book time off

Managing staff leave can be an organisational nightmare – especially over the summer when people often want time off at the same time, but your business needs to carry on as usual while they are away. With Timetastic, your staff can easily request any type of leave, and you can view, approve and manage it all from any device. As an npower Business customer, you can try it free for 6 months.


We hope you enjoy these deals. Have fun on your getaway!

Like what you’ve read? Join us on twitter @npowerbusiness #energytogrow or Linkedin at npower Business

Press release: Business Secretary announces Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund investments

  • Funding will focus on 6 key areas:
    • healthcare and medicine
    • robotics and artificial intelligence
    • batteries for clean and flexible energy storage
    • self-driving vehicles
    • manufacturing and materials of the future
    • satellites and space technology
  • Government has committed to increasing investment in research and development by £4.7 billion over the next 4 years. The extra £2 billion per year by 2020 to 2021 is the biggest increase in total government R&D investment since records began in 1979.

The government is investing £1 billion in cutting-edge technologies to create jobs and raise living standards, Business Secretary Greg Clark announced today (21 April 2017).

The funding from the flagship Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) will be spent across 6 key areas over the next 4 years, driving progress and innovation that will create opportunities for businesses and sectors across the UK.

The government has worked with businesses and academics to identify core industrial challenges, where research and innovation can help unlock markets and industries of the future in which the UK can become world-leading.

Through the ISCF, government will bring together the UK’s world leading research with the ambitions of business to meet these challenges head-on. The funding allocations announced today are designed to help deliver a step-change in the UK’s ability to turn strengths in research into commercialised products.

The first 3 areas set to receive investment through the fund – healthcare and medicine, clean and flexible energy, and robotics and artificial intelligence – were announced at the 2017 Spring Budget. The Business Secretary has today confirmed the total investment in each field (subject to business case approval):

  • clean and flexible energy or the ‘Faraday Challenge’: an investment of £246 million over 4 years to help UK businesses seize the opportunities presented by the transition to a low carbon economy, to ensure the UK leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of batteries for the electrification of vehicles
  • cutting-edge healthcare and medicine: an investment of £197 million over 4 years to develop first-of-a-kind technologies for the manufacture of medicines that will speed up patient access to new drugs and treatments, building on the exporting strengths of the UK’s biopharmaceutical sector
  • robotics and artificial intelligence (AI): an investment of £93 million over 4 years to make industry and public services more productive, by developing AI and robotics systems that can be deployed in extreme environments which occur in off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining

Greg Clark also confirmed today that, subject to business case approval, the 3 additional areas that will be receiving ISCF grants in the next 4 years.

  • driverless cars: to ensure the UK’s reputation as a world-leader in driverless car technology, a sector predicted to be worth £63 billion by 2035, the government will be investing a further £38 million in new collaborative research and development projects, working with industry partners to develop the next generation of AI and control systems need to ensure the UK is at the forefront of the driverless cars revolution
  • manufacturing and future materials: through a new £26 million fund for research and development programmes, the government will support the UK’s civil aerospace industry, a sector which employs over 230,000 people, to develop the next generation of affordable light-weight composite materials for aerospace, automotive and other advanced manufacturing sectors
  • satellites and space technology: building on the UK’s global reputation for satellite technology, a growth industry that underpins mobile technology, the ISCF will provide funding for a £99 million satellite test facility supporting new launch technologies and the manufacturing and testing capabilities that will allow the UK to construct future satellites and deliver payloads into orbit

Further announcements on allocations, including dual support funding, will be made in due course. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

As part of our Plan for Britain this government wants to create a modern Industrial Strategy to support the key sectors of our economy and spread jobs, prosperity and opportunity around the whole country.

Through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund we will provide an enormous boost to our world-class research and development sector, to help turn brilliant British innovations into new businesses and good jobs.

The UK is home to some of the world’s best innovators at the very forefront of global excellence. The funding I am announcing today, providing hundreds of millions of pounds of support to develop the next generation of technologies across a range of sectors, shows our determination and commitment to making sure the UK remains at the very forefront of research innovation for years to come.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said:

Addressing the UK’s productivity gap is key to raising living standards and ensuring we are match fit to compete in the global economy. That is why I created the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund.

As we leave the EU, we are determined to help Britain’s innovators compete with the best and seize the opportunities ahead, and this money will help advance our position as a global leader in developing cutting-edge technologies.

To hit the ground running, Innovate UK has confirmed that it will be supporting a £10 million first wave of projects through the ISCF in each of the 6 areas with a number of smaller projects, starting in 2017 to 2018*. Thirty-five projects have been selected for funding with innovations in projects ranging from fast chargers for electric vehicles and using 3D scanning technology to aid care for hospital patients, to the use of aerospace technology in the creation of biomedical prosthetics.

Chief Executive of Innovate UK Dr Ruth McKernan said:

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will deliver the science that business needs. By supporting business-led innovation, the industrial strategy will accelerate business growth, boost productivity and create high-skilled jobs.

By announcing these first challenges we are giving businesses the green light to start finding solutions to some of our major societal and industrial challenges and at the same time helping us fully realise economic impact from our world class science base.

Chair of Research Councils UK, Professor Philip Nelson said:

For innovation and growth to be successful there needs to be a strong and coherent innovation chain that joins up fundamental research and industrial expertise across all sectors. The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund supports the necessary environment for new discoveries to arise, innovation to flourish and novel products and services to be delivered. The first of these challenges will maintain and strengthen the UK’s leading position as the best place in the world to research, innovate and grow business.

To support delivery of the ISCF, the government announced at the Spring Budget it will invest £250 million over the next 4 years to continue to build the pipeline of high-skilled research talent.

This will include an additional 1,000 PhD places and support for new fellowships for early and mid-career researchers, both in areas aligned to the Industrial Strategy. This will be supplemented with targeted investment to attract global talent from overseas to the UK, helping to maintain the UK’s position as a world-leader in science and research.

The ISCF was created to ensure that research and innovation takes centre stage in the government’s Industrial Strategy, with investment earmarked for technologies where the UK can build on its world-leading strengths and help innovative businesses to tap into large and growing global markets, as well as the industries of the future.

The fund is being administered by Innovate UK and the Research Councils until the new body UK Research and Investment (UKRI) is formed in 2018. UKRI, under the leadership of its recently appointed Chief Executive Sir Mark Walport, will play a key role in strengthening the UK’s competitiveness through the Industrial Strategy.

The government has now concluded its 8-week consultation on its Industrial Strategy following its open call to people, businesses and local groups across the country to contribute to the vision set out in the green paper. Responses will now be considered before a white paper is published later in the year.

Notes to editors

The 35 projects Innovate UK are funding, subject to the completion of due diligence, through the £10 million investment are made up of 73 different collaboration partners, right across the country and all the projects led by SMEs.

See below for case study examples of the first wave of ISCF projects funded through Innovate UK.

Aerospace technology in creation prosthetics

Birmingham based Wallwork HT are innovators in coating technology and have teamed up with University of Leeds to develop a coating for Titanium alloys that uses technology developed for aircraft landing gear and translates it to the biomedical sector use in prosthetics.

3D scanners for wound care in hospital

Chester based Cadscan are looking to develop a novel, non-invasive diagnostic platform to assist in wound categorisation, treatment planning and monitoring of healing, designed specifically for non-specialist use in a primary care setting. By enabling more consistent diagnoses and treatment it will contribute to lower healthcare costs, faster rates of healing, less incorrect use of antibiotics and greater quality of life for patients with long term health conditions.


Bristol based OC Robotics are developing Snake-arm robots for use in the nuclear and aerospace industries. They are developing an intelligent system capable of identifying features/objects of interest, carrying out appropriate activities on the features and then presenting the data with augmented-reality, with tagged locations and all without human intervention.

Press release: Government confirms funding for EU students for 2018 to 2019

The government has today (21 April 2017) confirmed that EU students will continue to remain eligible for undergraduate, master’s, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support in academic year 2018 to 2019.

The decision means EU students applying for an undergraduate or master’s course at an English university or further education institution in the 2018 to 2019 academic year will continue to have access to student loans and grants, even if the course concludes after the UK’s exit from the EU.

EU students are eligible for home fee status, which means they are charged the same tuition fees as UK students. Other non-EU, international students do not have their tuition fees capped in this way.

EU nationals will also remain eligible to apply for Research Council PhD studentships at UK institutions for 2018 to 2019 to help cover costs for the duration of their study.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

We have been clear about our commitment to the UK’s world-class higher education sector. Through our modern industrial strategy and the additional £4.7 billion committed for research and innovation over the next 5 years, we are ensuring the UK has the skills and environment it needs to continue leading the way in academia and research.

A key part of our success is attracting talent from across the globe. This will provide reassurance to the brightest minds from across Europe to continue applying to study in the UK, safe in the knowledge financial assistance is available if needed.


  1. Student loans and grants: funding rules for EU nationals, or their family members, who are applying for a place at university from August 2018 to study a course that attracts student support will remain unchanged.
  2. Under current student finance rules, EU students are eligible to receive undergraduate tuition fee loans and master’s loans if they have resided in the European Economic Area for at least 3 years prior to study. EU nationals who have resided in the UK for over 5 years are also able to apply for undergraduate maintenance support.
  3. Research Council studentships: EU nationals are eligible for a fees-only award. EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the studentship may be eligible for both a fees award and a stipend to help cover the cost of their training.
  4. The migration status of EU nationals in the UK is being discussed as part of wider discussions with the EU. The Prime Minister was clear in her letter to the President of the European Council that that we should seek an early agreement on the rights of UK nationals in the EU and EU nationals in the UK, on a reciprocal basis.

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