The executive who brought Watchstone, one of the most controversial companies on the London Stock Exchange, to the brink of collapse, has been chosen to fill a three-year vacant position at the head of the world’s leading innovation agency. government.
Sky News has learned that Indro Mukerjee will be appointed the new CEO of Innovate UK on Wednesday – its first permanent director since Ruth McKernan stepped down in April 2018.
The appointment of Mr. Mukerjee will be the latest sign of Secretary of Business Kwasi Kwarteng’s determination to end a long inertia in the appointment of heads of public bodies overseen by his department.
Innovate UK, which employs 500 people and is based in Swindon, has been led by Ian Campbell as interim executive chairman for more than two years.
Sources said Kwarteng wanted Innovate UK to fulfill its intended role as an “innovation interface” between government and the private sector.
An insider said the arrival of Mr Mukerjee would be a key step in ensuring the government meets its commitment to increase economy-wide research and development spending to 2.4% of GDP. by 2027.
Mr Mukerjee’s appointment comes as ministers also seek an executive to lead the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), a new “high-risk, high-return” body tasked with identifying major scientific discoveries.
ARIA, which was the brainchild of Dominic Cummings, the former assistant to Boris Johnson now separated from Boris Johnson, will sit alongside Innovate UK as part of the UK’s innovation strategy.
Further details on the government’s ambitions to become a world leader in scientific and business innovation over the next few decades are expected to be set out in an article this summer.
The selection of Mr Mukerjee as the new CEO of Innovate UK would have been greeted with enthusiasm by ministers.
He will be tasked with transforming the organization from an organization focused on providing government grants to one that works much more collaboratively with the private sector to lead innovations that can spur economic growth.
Innovate UK is part of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), which has an annual budget of £ 8 billion but which insiders say has been stuck in its work by a heavy-handed approach within Whitehall.
UKRI is currently seeking a successor to Sir John Kingman, the former Treasury Mandarin, as president.
Mr Mukerjee is expected to be given a mandate to forge closer relationships with companies, especially among those that have the opportunity to invest in research and development capacity in the UK and among the community. venture capital, from which emerges a significant part of business innovation.
As the managing director of Watchstone, the insurance subcontractor formerly known as Quindell and which became involved in a Serious Fraud Office investigation, he stabilized the business and oversaw its eventual breakdown.
He has also led a number of successful private equity-backed companies, including C-MAC Micro Technology, which operated in markets such as aerospace and defense.
Since 2007, Innovate UK has invested around £ 2.5 billion alongside matching private sector funding.
Government figures suggest it was partly responsible for creating around 70,000 jobs during this period, adding an estimated value of £ 18 billion to the UK economy.
The Ministry of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy declined to comment on Tuesday.