Ruth McKernan of Innovate UK on why the organisation has reached 'a natural transition point'

Written by PublicTechnology staff on 29 December 2017 in News

The leader of the national innovation organisation looks back on 10 years of work

Credit: PA

The annual perm secs round-up published by PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World sees Whitehall's senior leaders open up on their biggest challenges and opportunities - as well as their plans for Christmas. Here Dr Ruth McKernan, chief executive of Innovate UK, shares her thoughts

What are you most proud of achieving in 2017? 
2017 has been a fantastic 10th anniversary year for all of us at Innovate UK. It has given us the chance to reflect on how far we’ve come over the last decade, to take stock of all the work we’ve done and the significant impact we’ve achieved in terms of jobs and business growth. 
This year has been one of our most impressive yet, with Innovate UK playing a central role in the development and roll out of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. We’ve also introduced two fantastic new products for UK businesses – Innovation Loans and the Investment Accelerator – alongside putting in place a proper finance system and a digital grants application process. 
I’m also incredibly proud of our diversity programme, particularly the campaign and competition we ran to support women in innovation, which has seen applications for our funding by women increase from 14% to 20%. 

What was your most difficult decision in 2017? 
After three fantastic years as chief executive, I decided to step down from my post and will leave Innovate UK next May. From my personal perspective it felt that the establishment of UK Research and Innovation was going to be a natural transition point, so my departure will create an opportunity for someone new to take Innovate UK forward as part of the leadership team within UKRI. 

What are your organisation’s top priorities in the year ahead? 
The move to UKRI next spring will be a significant period of change for us as an organisation, with new ways of working and even greater levels of collaboration across the Research Councils. Innovate UK will continue to play a pivotal role in driving business innovation right across the UK. 
And we’ll be expanding our diversity programme with a new campaign focused on disadvantaged young people, because we know that great ideas can come from anywhere. We will also be very focused on the delivery of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund as it expands to tackle more of the biggest societal and economic issues and opportunities we face in the UK. 

For you, no Christmas holiday is complete without… 
Carols from Kings, a glass of sherry and spending lots of time with my family.


Share this page



Add new comment

Related Articles

GDS feels the love from civil service chief Manzoni
6 March 2018

Whitehall leader praises achievements of digital agency and points to the crucial role it will play in delivering Brexit

How the UK Space Agency is improving public services from the exosphere
28 February 2018

PublicTechnology talks to Sara Huntingdon about the Space for Smarter Government Programme’s work with Whitehall and the wider public sector


Embedding AI and biometrics into services picked as GDS priorities for 2018
12 February 2018

Director general Kevin Cunnington runs through achievements of past 12 months and goals for the coming year, including supporting Brexit initiatives and increasing DDaT skills

The government’s Institute of Coding could help create a truly digital workforce
6 February 2018

James Milligan of Hays Digital Technology welcomes PM Theresa May’s investments in closing the technology skills gap

Related Sponsored Articles

How to quantify cyber risk
15 March 2018

BT's Malcolm Stokes explains how organisations can attribute accurate figures to cyber risks in order to make a viable business case.

Cyber security is one of the greatest man-made challenges of our time
6 March 2018

BT's Ben Azvine argues that the frequency and impact of breaches is increasing and we need to continuously adapt and innovate to stay ahead of the threat environment

Who keeps your organisation secure?
19 February 2018

BT's Amy Lemberger argues that having the right security in place to protect your organisation is no longer just an option. It is a necessity.