Sci-Tech Daresbury’s John Leake has been appointed Chair of the UK Science Park Association (UKSPA), replacing Professor Patrick Bonnett who has held the role with distinction since the start of 2021.
John is Business Growth Director at Sci-Tech Daresbury, with his role focusing on the attraction of technology companies to the campus, particularly into the future developments on the site. This includes the recently opened Violet development and Ultraviolet, which has just been granted planning permission.
John also oversees the development and delivery of the extensive business support programmes and activities to accelerate the growth of companies at Sci-Tech Daresbury, and the management of the partnerships to accomplish this.
He has been a member of the UKSPA Board since October 2018, where he has assisted the Association’s development and implementation of strategy and governance.
USKPA promotes and supports a diverse network of members that includes science parks, research campuses, city-based innovation districts, technology incubators and innovation centres across the UK (and beyond). These members operate in different areas, with different funding and investment profiles but together deliver enormous added value to companies that occupy space or participate in member activities.
Through a programme of sharing good practice, networking, communication, research, promotion and advocacy, UKSPA membership helps to sustain and develop the vital economic sector of science and technology. The UKSPA membership network of managers, developers, investors, owners and supporting business affiliates all share a common goal: to create a growing, effective innovation sector with the right facilities, infrastructure, services and business growth activities for the 6,000 companies and other organisations that they support on a daily basis.
John’s priorities in his new role will include building a broader research base for UKSPA, to capture the data and evidence required to demonstrate the importance and benefit of science parks and innovation locations to the UK economy, while also developing relationships with government and other key influencers in order to support the creation of a stronger UK innovation ecosystem.
John will replace Professor Patrick Bonnett, Chief Development Officer at the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing and Professor of Practice, Innovation Environments at Newcastle University. After serving as a Board member for over 10 years, Patrick will be standing down from the Board later in the year.
Commenting on his departure, Patrick said: “It’s been an absolute privilege to be Chair of UKSPA. During this period, we’ve had significant challenges around how we sustain a well-established membership organisation when our previous main means of interaction – well attended face to face meetings – have, by necessity, often been taken away.
“We’ve also recently seen the smooth transition to our new CEO James Chaffer. This is a really exciting time for the association as we look to build on the success of UKSPA’s first four decades, towards an even brighter future under James’ and John’s leadership. We are genuinely well placed to grow our organisation in all directions and want to deliver value not just to our members but other stakeholders too – including government at a national and local level.”
Speaking about the appointment, UKSPA Chief Executive James Chaffer commented, “On behalf of the Board and the membership I would firstly like to offer my sincere thanks to Patrick for successfully guiding the Association through what was potentially a tricky period in its existence. I would also like to thank John for his recent sterling work as Secretary and Honorary Treasurer.
“I am really looking forward to working even more closely with him in his new role as UKSPA Chair, as we continue to develop and deliver the strategies to push forward the Association’s exciting ambitions, particularly around advocacy regarding national and local innovation strategies.”
Discussing his new role, John Leake said: “UKSPA members have given very clear feedback on where the priority areas of development are.
“ We will be focusing on building a stronger research and evidence base to ensure that policy makers and influencers fully understand and support the significant role that science parks and other member locations play in building a stronger UK innovation ecosystem, particularly with regard to policies around Levelling Up. I also want to ensure the content and accessibility of both our on-line and in-person events are maintained and developed, to increase engagement with all members.
“Finally, following the success of our Early Career Professional programme to bring younger talent and expertise into supporting the UKSPA Board, I want to continue to increase the diversity and inclusivity of those coming into positions managing science parks and innovation locations and support the training and development of our future leaders.
“It’s a significant honour to hold this prestigious role at an organisation that is so important to the impact that science and innovation can make on the economic, social and scientific wellbeing of the UK.”