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UKRI Chief Executive Sir Mark Walport to step down in 2020

Published on: 17/09/19

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the national funding agency responsible for science and research investment in the UK, has announced he is to retire for the role next year.

The decision to leave the organisation in 2020 will mark the end of a three-year tenure at its helm, beginning in 2017 when Walport was appointed to “create a single, ambitious organisation and provide the UK with a world class funding system to keep it at the forefront of global research and innovation”.

During his time in the lead role, Walport has brought together seven UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England to drive the organisation through the first phase of its transformation programme, as well as successfully secured a “significant increase” in public funding.

"Mark has been an extraordinary first leader of UK Research and Innovation,” commented UKRI Chairman Sir John Kingman. “He has successfully realised Paul Nurse’s vision for an organisation which champions Britain’s outstanding research and enormous opportunities for innovation. He has laid great foundations for UKRI’s future, bringing in exceptional talent and securing a very substantial increase in Government funding. At UKRI, his will be a formidable act to follow.”

Sir Walport remarked on his own decision to leave his current role: “It has been my great privilege to be able to lead UKRI through the first three years of its development and existence. Creating a new organisation of this importance and scale has been an enormous task.

“I am delighted that UK Research and Innovation is now very much firing on all cylinders and is extremely well placed for its enormously important role as a key element supporting the future of the UK in a fast-changing world.

“I am proud of the Executive Chairs that we have recruited to lead the nine UKRI Councils and of our outstanding colleagues throughout the organisation,” he continued. “I am also enormously grateful to Ministers and colleagues in BEIS, and to all of our external stakeholders who have advised and supported UK Research and Innovation throughout its early days.

“I will continue to work at ‘full steam’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and humanities, and Mathematics!) until my successor is identified and able to take over from me during 2020.”

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