A leading light in the economic development of the Thames Valley has been confirmed as the deputy managing director of the UK’s foremost innovation centre operator.
Tim Smith MBE has joined Oxford Innovation in a new key role focused on the day-to-day running of the company. Previously the CEO of the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Smith brings immediate knowledge and experience of the critical part that innovative start-up companies play in economic growth.
Between April 2015 and March 2019, he led the implementation of a strategy that, according to the LEP, created or safeguarded nearly 4,500 jobs, assisted 1,500 businesses and helped to train and upskill over 3,700 workers.
Smith will support Oxford Innovation managing director Jo Stevens, who is leading the organisation’s ambitious growth plans, which include the management of more than 40 innovation centres across the UK and Ireland.
Stevens said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Tim, who has spent many years leading on programmes of economic development for the Thames Valley and beyond.
“Our clients are wrestling with many of the issues that have been at the forefront of Tim’s in-tray, notably how to ensure that the presence of great universities translate into local jobs and economic growth as well as how to develop and support the ‘harder-to-help’ towns of a region.
“Oxford Innovation’s work is about making places work better, through the delivery of successful and sustainable innovation centres, particularly for small business, entrepreneurs and for the innovation economy; we and our clients will greatly value his experience and leadership.”
Established in 1987, Oxford Innovation has grown to become the country’s largest provider of innovation centres; flexible workspace and support for innovative, early stage business.
So far this year, three new innovation centres have been launched; two in Oxford and one Essex, with additional centres in Newcastle, High Wycombe and Aylesbury to be launched in the next three months. Future plans include a centre in Haverhill, Suffolk and a first centre in the Republic of Ireland.
Tim Smith said: “I have been involved with the SQW Group for several years and have long respected the integrity, professionalism and expertise of Oxford Innovation and its sister companies.
“I am delighted to have joined the company and look forward to helping it realise its growth ambitions and supporting even more innovators in the future.”