ESRC chief executive and UKRI ‘innovation champion’ named

Jennifer Rubin to become executive chair of research council, alongside new role for Sir Harpal Kumar

October 26, 2017

Two key appointments at the UK’s new research umbrella body, UK Research and Innovation, have been made.

Jennifer Rubin, professor of public policy and director of the Policy Institute at Kings’ College London, has been named as the new chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council. She will become the executive chair of the council when it moves under the auspices of UKRI in April next year.

Meanwhile Sir Harpal Kumar, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, will be UKRI’s innovation champion.

UKRI is the new body that will fund research in the UK and has come into existence under the Higher Education and Research Act. It will bring together the UK’s seven existing research councils under one umbrella for the first time.

The councils will sit alongside Innovate UK and Research England, a new council that will represent the research and knowledge exchange functions currently undertaken by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Each council within UKRI will be led by an executive chair – a new post that combines the responsibilities of chief executive and chair. The innovation champion will promote the interests of businesses and the wider innovation community within the organisation.

Sir Harpal is not the only recent recruit to UKRI from Cancer Research UK, one of the country’s biggest medical research charities. Last month Mr Johnson announced that the charity’s chief finance officer, Ian Kenyon, will become the head of UKRI’s finance and oversee the organisation’s annual £6 billion budget.

Sir Mark Walport, chief executive designate of UKRI, said: “Sir Harpal Kumar will bring great experience from his time in business and his distinguished leadership of Cancer Research UK to ensure that the voice of innovation is at the heart of UKRI.”

He added: “Professor Jennifer Rubin has a first class academic background in social science and public policy and is ideally placed to lead ESRC to support and champion economic and social sciences within UKRI.”

The executive chair of Research England has previously been announced as David Sweeney, who is director of research, innovation and knowledge exchange at Hefce.

holly.else@timeshighereducation.com

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