Chair of the Board - Exeter

Non-Executive Director
Ref: 65 Date Posted: Wednesday 23 Oct 2019
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Chair, Exeter Science Park
Role: Chair of the Board
Honorarium: £15,000 per annum
Time Commitment: Average 5 days per month
Term: 3 years, with a mutual expectation for a further 2 years
Location: Exeter, Devon

The Company:
Exeter Science Park Ltd (ESPL) is the result of a vision to develop a science park at Exeter in the south-west of the United Kingdom to facilitate the growth of innovative, fast-growing STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical) companies that exploit world-class research, create high-quality jobs, attract and retain talent, and drive productivity and economic growth.

ESPL’s shareholders are Devon County Council (DCC), East Devon District Council (EDDC), Exeter City Council (ECC) and the University of Exeter (UoE). It is effectively a not-for-profit company which is operated on a ‘not for distribution’ basis to ensure that all income and capital is used for the benefit of the business.

ESPL is currently focused on becoming financially sustainable by 2021 based on owning and operating five buildings that are at various stages of development:

  • The Science Park Centre with café, meeting rooms and hot desking facilities that was opened in 2015 and is 90% full at the start of February 2019.
  • Three Grow-on Buildings comprising 27,000ft² were completed in November 2018.The buildings were pre let and after a range of tenant fit outs are now fully let.
  • A proposed Open Innovation Building of 20,00ft² is fully funded and currently in the design process. Commencement on site is anticipated to be August 2019.
  • A bespoke 12,000ft² University building is currently being constructed at the Park.

By 2021, we expect around 700 high-value, knowledge-based jobs to be based at the science park. However, we are about to start planning for the next phase of growth requiring the development of around 180,000 sqft of offices, laboratories and other technology facilities which is expected to cost over £60M. We expect this to result in a further 1,500 jobs at the science park by 2027.

Meanwhile, Individual companies are growing from hot-desk to small office suite in the Science Park Centre (SPC), and then moving to larger office suites in the SPC before looking to relocate to the new Grow-on Buildings which have just opened.

The Role:
Now that Exeter Science Park has reached a certain level of maturity and is making consistent progress towards its strategic goals, it is timely for a new Chair to contribute to the diversity of ideas and to take the company into its next stage of innovation and transformation.

Your role involves driving forward Exeter Science Park’s agenda and strategy through challenging, supporting and inspiring the Chief Executive Officer and Board members, to embed a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. You will enable the development of the strategic vision of the company as it evolves, ensuring that it continues to attract and maintain a broad range of STEMM organisations increasingly from a wider geographic area. 

As Chair, you will lead and navigate complex negotiations and discussions with key stakeholders and shareholders, to enhance the ongoing success of the Science Park.  You will encourage and direct focussed discussion and decision-making in line with the company’s vision, scrutinise plans and policies and be resilient when making difficult decisions that drive forward the success of the company. It will also be your key responsibility to determine and develop the structure and composition of the Board, to ensure the enhance diversity of experience and skills which is conducive to innovative and effective decision-making.

You will be a vital ambassador for Exeter Science Park, through acting as a leading representative to internal and external audiences and ensuring effective communication and liaison between the all key stakeholders and shareholders which include local authorities, the University if Exeter and other elements of the knowledge base. You will build and maintain strong relationships with relevant organisations and institutions in the local area, in order to identify business opportunities and positively to promote the value of Exeter Science Park.

A primary responsibility will also be to lead on the appraisal of the CEO with contributions from the Board, to safeguard first class performance. You will be comfortable making difficult decisions which carry risk in order to secure the strategic goals of the company. You will ensure the Company’s statutory and regulatory duties are effectively executed and that a high standard of corporate governance and financial management is maintained.

The Person:
As a person, you are passionate about innovation, science and technology, and can harness your knowledge of academic  STEMM research and national policy, as well as your experience operating in senior leadership roles, to constructively challenge, support, and inspire the Chief Executive Officer and Board to drive Exeter Science Park towards its strategic objectives.

You have the strategic and commercial perception to identify future opportunities and risk, and have the ability to listen to, persuade and influence others in a group, whilst also effectively steering discussions towards a decision. You are resilient when making uncomfortable decisions where required for the benefit of the Company, and also possess exceptional communication skills, enabling you to provide clarity, challenge and inspire confidence to stakeholders, the Board and the Executive.

You will have significant experience of adding value to innovative businesses in leadership and Board- level positions and will have developed a keen eye for data interrogation and financial accounts, enabling you to fully understand their detail and highlight relevant issues to the CEO and Board.  You will have experience of successfully chairing multiple stakeholder Boards or committees.

You have the vision, independence of judgement, tenacity and commitment to help the Science Park thrive in the years to come, combined with the ability to judge appropriately, the separation of the roles of the Board, its Chair and the Executive.

As someone who has experience and knowledge of innovation, you understand and appreciate the conditions required to enhance innovation.  In addition, you will have an extensive network of local and national innovation contacts within Universities, funding bodies STEMM organisations that you can draw upon to support the Science Park’s development.

The Rewards and Term:
The post has a 3-year term with a mutual expectation for an extension for a further 2 years and has an honorarium which reflects the public service nature of the role at the interface with the entrepreneurial community. It provides you with the opportunity to play an influential and imperative leadership role in one of the most exciting projects the South West has to offer. This role gives you the opportunity to build upon and broaden your leadership skills and enhance your own career, whilst also playing a key role in the success and development of Exeter Science Park. On average, you could spend 5 days per month on this role.

We will be holding the interviews on Thursday, 9th January 2020.

If you possess the experience, passion and attitude to make this role a success then we would love to hear from you. Please apply with your CV and a cover letter by 29th November 2019 or, for further details, you can contact us by phone on 01823 665297.