The first 50 days
Although not quite 50 days since I took over as the new Executive Director, I wanted to share with you some of our plans for UKSPA in the coming months.
In January we said a fond farewell to our former CEO, Paul Wright, who has steered UKSPA across sometimes turbulent waters for the past 16 years. He will be sorely missed but we wish him all the very best in his new life in rural Wales.
The beginning of 2018 was a time of great change for UKSPA. Following my appointment as Executive Director, I have been joined by Sarah Lawton in her role as Communications Manager and Louise Tilbrook as the new Membership Administrator. Both bring huge energy, expertise and enthusiasm to UKSPA which will become increasingly visible during the next few months.
I wanted to take this opportunity to bring members up to speed with what has happened over the past few months and also to ask for feedback on some of our proposed plans.
In early January, the UKSPA Board held their annual strategic Away Day to look at Association ambitions for 2018/2019. We welcomed two new board members to the discussions who will join our existing directors. Patrick Bonnett from National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle and Bob Cushing from Bridge Fibre will contribute enormously to our work in the future. The Executive Team will be working closely with the Board on issues such as delivering UKSPA advocacy of the sector as well as research and sector policy initiatives.
A week after the first Board meeting we regrouped in Swansea for our January conference. Hosted by Swansea University Institute of Life Science, the conference took place in the National Waterfront Museum. The museum’s celebration of 300 years of Welsh industry and innovation made it an appropriate one.
The conference theme was partnership and cooperation and this was ably demonstrated through the official launch of BUCANIER – a joint Wales/Ireland co-operative initiative which seeks to increase innovation capacity within SMEs and social enterprises by collaborating with Higher Education (HE) institutions and other public bodies to improve the innovation dividend through increased productivity.
This also provided an opportunity to hear from two of our most recent members, Aberystwyth Innovation & Enterprise Campus and BIC Innovation, on their work and plans for the coming years. It was our first visit to Wales for some time and also saw the launch our exciting new UKSPA Wales Network.
The last few weeks has also allowed me to meet with a number of members to look at their plans for the future, such as Tracy Robinson,MD of University of Leeds Innovation Centre, who introduced me to the scale and ambition of the University’s Nexus development.
Other meetings took place in the North of England and the next month or two will allow me the valuable opportunity to visit and connect with members in the South East, South West and Scotland as well as Ireland.
Working with our Affiliates
Our Business Affiliates continue to deliver enormous benefit to the Association and the innovation sector. I have also held several meetings to develop some exciting plans with our affiliate network. More details will be circulated shortly but one of the most important areas UKSPA is looking at is research, data and sector analysis and more information about how we attend to address this will be circulated in the next month or so.
Finally - an essential part of our work is communications. We want to further improve our contacts with members and also promote the value and impact of our members work as effectively as possible.
The next two months will see continued improvements to our website, our social media and our publications.
Our magazine - Breakthrough - will continue, but we must improve distribution of the online version. So, we would greatly appreciate you passing details of the free online subscription link to your tenants, members and networks, with our compliments, and encourage them to sign up for a free copy, direct to their inboxes.
Finally – a date for your diary. Our next event is at the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park on 7-8 June. We look forward to seeing you there!
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any thoughts or questions about UKSPA.