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Key Appointment for university will build on regional development

22 September 2008 – for immediate release

Aston University has taken further steps this week to contribute to a more prosperous and dynamic West Midlands by appointing the person responsible for driving innovation in the region to their senior management team.

Director of Innovation at Advantage West Midlands (AWM), Dr Phil Extance, will take up the position of Pro-Vice Chancellor for Business Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer in November - with a focus on bridging the regional gap between education and industry and contributing to the economic success of the West Midlands. Phil will bring with him extensive links with regional industry, a strong background in the sharing of knowledge between the education and business sectors, a well-developed understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the region and a broad knowledge base in science, research and development.

Phil has already done much to champion the importance of universities in shaping the region. In his role at AWM he has taken a lead role in developing the West Midlands Regional Economic Agenda* – highlighting and exploiting the essential contribution education partners bring to the region. He has been the lead executive on the Innovation and Technology Council (ITC), which has an objective to reinvigorate the West Midlands economy through the development of technology, and has played a leading role in the Science City initiative for AWM** which uses developments in science and technology to improve the prosperity and quality of life in the region.

Phil is also an ardent supporter of the INDEX (INnovation Delivers EXpansion) Voucher Scheme. This project, a successful example of university and industry collaboration, allows small and medium-sized businesses to gain expertise from a higher education institution in the region to develop a particular project. The UK version of the scheme originated at Aston University, was part-funded by AWM and will have awarded 220 vouchers valued at £3000 each by the end of 2008. In the Government’s Science and Innovation White Paper, Innovation Nation (published in March 2008), commitment was given to developing the project on a national basis.

In his new capacity as head of business partnerships and knowledge transfer at Aston, Phil will build upon his existing experience of university and business collaborations. He will focus on increasing knowledge transfer activities to expand strong links with industry, exploiting the University’s Intellectual Property and research expertise to contribute to the growth of the University and industry, strengthening relationships with key local policy-making bodies and continuing to support the local community through Aston’s community engagement activities.

 

Talking of his recent appointment, Phil Extance, newly appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor for Business Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer, Aston University, said:

“Aston University is an exciting place to work – it has a clear vision of where it wants to be and I am looking forward to being part of achieving those aims.  Aston is well regarded for its research excellence, its links with businesses, the graduate employment record and the diversity of its members amongst other things.  My own career should enable me to understand many of the opportunities and challenges of the world of knowledge transfer and working with businesses.  I am really excited by the potential of the people and the organisation that is Aston University.” 

 

Professor Julia King, Vice-Chancellor, Aston University, added:

“I am delighted that Phil will be joining the University from Advantage West Midlands.

“Phil is an outstanding individual, with an unusual and highly relevant mix of experience from industry, consultancy, education and local and national government.  His experience of technology transfer will also be a major asset to Aston.  John Bailey (existing PVC for Business Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer) will be a hard act to follow, but in Phil I think we have found a successor who will really be able to build on the achievements that the University has already delivered in this area.”

Phil Extance enjoyed a highly successful career in the private sector before his time in the public sector as Director of Innovation at Advantage West Midlands and Executive Director at the Shropshire Learning and Skills Council. He was Chief Executive of Rapra Technology and Director of Advanced Engineering at Lucas Industries – the latter positions providing him with considerable experience of research and development in the private sector. He also has a first class Honours degree in Natural Sciences and a PhD in physics from Selwyn College, Cambridge.

ENDS

For more information on Phil Extance or to set up an interview, contact Laura Plotnek, University Communications Team, Aston University on 0121 204 4549 or l.plotnek@aston.ac.uk.

Notes to editors

*Entitled Connecting to Success, this AWM-led strategy seeks to create a more prosperous and innovative West Midlands and close the region’s £10 billion output gap (£2,000 per person)

**Birmingham was identified as one of six science cities in 2005. As part of the initiative, the launch of the country’s first ocular allergy centre – a collaboration between Aston and Worcester Universities – was made possible. The £249,000 centre was part-funded by AWM. Visit www.birminghamsciencecity.co.uk for more information.

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