Ruth McKernan appointed chief executive of Innovate UK

Posted on 12 Mar 2015 by Jonny Williamson

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced the appointment of Ruth McKernan as Innovate UK’s new chief executive.

With Dr McKernan having a long track record of innovation and achievement, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, Innovate UK’s chairman Phil Smith commented: “Her commercial and research experience in a major innovation-based company are exactly what we need to lead our organisation in the coming years.

” As Innovate UK, we offer a wide range of effective programmes to help businesses to innovate, grow and deliver economic growth. I look forward to working with Ruth as Innovate UK moves to its next phase.”

McKernan , who holds a BSc in Pharmacology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Molecular Neuroscience from Kings College London, has had a distinguished career in the pharmaceutical industry.

As a scientist, she is best known for her research on ligand-gated ion channels with over 120 publications and 15 patents to her name. She has headed research sites for Merck and Pfizer, most recently creating two new research units in Cambridge – Pfizer Regenerative Medicine and Neusentis, which discovers and develops medicines for pain and sensory disorders.

She served on the board of the Canadian Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Spinal Research, and was chair of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Industry panel. She now sits on the Science, Industry and Translation committee of the Royal Society, Cancer Research Technology’s Board and is a Council Member for the Medical Research Council.

Having previously worked extensively with Innovate UK as interim co-chair of the Cell Therapy Catapult. In 2013, she was awarded a CBE for services to business, innovation and skills.

She commented: “It is an honour to be able to build on the superb work of Iain Gray in leading this public body.

“The UK is world renowned for the quality of its research; turning that knowledge into businesses, jobs and sustainable economic growth is an absolute necessity for the future. I look forward to doing all I can to ensure that we create and grow science and technology-based companies in the UK and encourage partnership right across the innovation ecosystem.”

Interim chief executive David Grant will remain in post until McKernan takes up her position on 1 May 2015.