The United Kingdom Science Park Association (UKSPA) is pleased to announce the appointment of John Leake as its new Chair.  John takes over the mantle from outgoing Chair Patrick Bonnett, Chief Development Officer at the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing, who has held the position since early 2021.  John is a longstanding and active member of UKSPA, and has sat on the Board since October 2018, while more recently he has served as the Association’s Company Secretary and Honorary Treasurer.

John’s role as Business Growth Director at Sci-Tech Daresbury focuses on the attraction of technology companies to the campus, particularly into the future developments on the site. 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.

Commenting on this news, Patrick said, “‘I am delighted to be able to welcome John to the role of Chair of UKSPA.  He takes over at a hugely exciting point in the Association’s development.  Having served on the Board for over 10 years, I will be standing down later this year but look forward to our organisation going from strength to strength under John’s extremely capable stewardship.”

Speaking about the announcement, 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 Bonnett for successfully guiding the Association through what was potentially a tricky period in its existence with such a calm authority, as well as for making my recent transition from park management at UNIP into the role of Chief Executive a smooth process.  Patrick has diligently served as an UKSPA Board member for many years now, in a variety of roles, and so his decision to stand down from the Board towards the end of the year means the timing of this change is perfect, in terms of allowing for a seamless handover of the reins to John.

“I would also like to thank Ian McFadzen for stepping into the position of Vice-chair during Patrick’s time as Chair, as well as John for his recent sterling work as Secretary and Treasurer.  I am really looking forward to working even more closely with John as the Board and the Executive Team continue to develop and deliver the strategies to push forward UKSPA’s exciting ambitions, particularly around advocacy regarding national and local innovation strategies.” 

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, as well as continuing the work to drive greater equality, diversity and inclusivity within both the UKSPA Board and the wider management and operations of science park ecosystems.

Discussing his new role, John commented, “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. I have personally benefited from the expertise, and friendships from within the UKSPA network over the past 15 years.  We have some great opportunities to ensure that policy makers and influencers fully understand and support the significant role that UKSPA member locations play in building a stronger UK innovation ecosystem and I’m relishing the challenge to make significant progress here.”

The appointment of a new Chair has prompted a minor reshuffle in the other Officer positions on the UKSPA Board, with Patrick Bonnett reverting to his previous position of Vice-chair, while, Graham Hewson, Head of Incubation at Imperial White City Incubator, has been appointed as the new Company Secretary and Honorary Treasurer.