Gearing for Growth: New Business Development Roles at Oxford Innovation Space 

Oxford Innovation Space manages the largest network of innovation centres across the UK, managing 25 centres currently with a further seven in the pipeline. With the scale and pace of growth, Oxford Innovation Space has taken the strategic decision to divide its business development portfolio into public sector clients and science and technology clients, creating new senior roles to set the benchmark and continue the growth trajectory.

The new Head of Public Sector and Universities, Toni Harrison (AIED), will lead the proactive and reactive business development activities by supporting local authorities and universities to develop centres with flexible working space and support for SMEs, contributing towards local economic development, social enhancements and physical regeneration.  

The new Head of Science and Technology, Matt Francis. Photo by: James Robinson

The new Head of Science and Technology, Matt Francis, will be overseeing client relationships within the Science and Technology community, supporting and expanding the network of centres where the focus is to support companies in the commercialisation of scientific research and cutting-edge technologies. 

Oxford Innovation Space’s Managing Director, Jo Stevens, said: “Supporting innovation is at the heart of what we do, but we balance this with financial sustainability and meeting regional economic development objectives. The public sector and universities are facing very different challenges and opportunities compared to the buoyant science and technology sector. It therefore makes strategic sense to split the portfolio and provide dedicated support driven by Toni and Matt who are hugely experienced within their sectors.”  

With over 35 years’ experience, Oxford Innovation Space creates prosperous innovation and enterprise ecosystems by re-energising existing buildings, or by working with partners, to establish new innovation centres. Proudly setting the benchmark, Oxford Innovation Space has created a landscape of successful centres throughout the UK and Ireland located in town centres, Science and Research Parks, enterprise zones and on university campuses. 

Head of Public Sector and Universities, Toni Harrison. Photo by: James Robinson

Head of Public Sector and Universities, Toni Harrison explained: “We’re in a really challenging world, local authorities are tasked with doing so many things, as well as addressing the Government’s Levelling Up programme. So where does innovation and business growth sit in the hierarchy of needs? In my view, if you can create a community of innovative, high growth businesses in an area, it will create high value jobs, inspiration and aspiration for local residents. They will put enterprise on the agenda and attract and retain talent, creating an inclusive economy and opportunities for local people with good jobs.” Toni added: “There’s significant financial challenges but the opportunity is there to grow and do more. They need support for the transformations that they want to deliver which is where Oxford Innovation Space comes in.”   

Head of Science and Technology, Matt Francis, explained:” “It’s no secret that the UK’s expertise and potential in scientific and technological research and commercialisation is being recognised and, increasingly, relied upon by the government and UKPLC for future economic growth. This renewed interest is welcome, and here at Oxford Innovation Space we’ve been supporting science and tech entrepreneurs for over 35 years, helping them to bring their world changing ideas into products and services that result in enormous societal benefit. With our laboratory and workshop facilities, alongside office space, and of course our record of delivery, we are now poised to expand our impact through supporting this essential part of the economy and would welcome conversations with likeminded partners.” 

Oxford Innovation Space has seven new centres opening this year including Vulcan Works in Northampton, Launchpad in Southend-On-Sea, and our first centre outside the UK, WorkIQ in South Dublin, opening in late Autumn 2023. 

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