Exeter Science Park Ltd’s Board of Directors has appointed Nick Ames of the SG Group as its new Chair, replacing Professor Sir William Wakeham who retires after more than ten years at the helm.

As Chief Executive of the SG Group, which has its headquarters in East Devon and includes Supacat, SC Innovation, Proteum and Blackhill Engineering Services, Nick’s extensive private sector experience will help to steer Exeter Science Park towards achieving its vision of becoming a centre of excellence for 3,500 people working in science, technology, engineering, maths and medical (STEMM) industries by 2035. 

Nick said: “My main focus will be on sustaining the central vision and mission of the Park, so brilliantly conceived and delivered by Sir William and the team. He leaves a big pair of shoes to fill, and I look forward to carrying on his outstanding work. Continuing the growth trajectory is key, for the Science Park as a business, for its tenants and for the wider region.”

A former Board member of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), Nick said: “The South West is well known for its sector specialisms, including agri-tech and big data, and Exeter Science Park is at the heart of this. I want to continue to support this innovative work as well as expanding on what other specialisms the region has to offer in STEMM arenas.”

He added: “I will work closely with the Park’s four shareholders; Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council and the University of Exeter – continuing William’s work of holding the quartet of organisations together to deliver the masterplan for the site.”

Professor Sir William Wakeham was Chair of the Exeter Science Park Board from 2009, taking the Park from concept to delivery.

Sir William said: “It has been an honour to work with the directors, Science Park team, shareholders and partners on a truly extraordinary project. I recall sitting in the site office back in 2014, which was just a portacabin in a field, with just a vision. To see where we are today is incredible.

“Having spent his whole career in private sector, Nick is perfectly placed to bring a more commercial mind to Exeter Science Park as it enters its next phase of growth. His experience with the LEP means he has a real appreciation of our shareholders and funders too. I have no doubt he will lead the Park from strength to strength.”

Dr Sally Basker, CEO of Exeter Science Park, said: “William has provided an inimitable expertise and enthusiasm to Exeter Science Park for over a decade and should be extremely proud of the key part he has played in delivering what we can see on site today.

“We are already working to improve our environment, products and service so our entrepreneurial clients can return to a demonstrably safe environment post-Covid-19. I look forward to working with Nick to help innovative STEMM companies across the region deliver extraordinary growth.”

Nick qualified as a chartered accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) after graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge. Following his time at PwC, Nick spent five years as a divisional finance director and divisional managing director for Serco Group, responsible for clients such as the European Space Agency, European Southern Observatory and nuclear research centre CERN.

“Managing the finance operation for international projects gave me a taste of large-scale science projects; knowledge and experience I hope to bring to the Board,” Nick said.

“The Science Park is an integral part of not just greater Exeter but the whole of the South West region. Along with Hinkley Point C, Exeter Science Park is a beacon project for the region, providing high-quality jobs,” he added.