AIRTO community assembles to recognise excellence in innovation

AIRTO Annual Dinner & Special Recognition Awards 2018

The Rt Hon Lord David Willetts, Executive Chair, Resolution Foundation addressed guests from industry, academia and government at AIRTO’s annual black tie dinner on 27 June 2018 at Stationers’ Hall, London.

Lord Willetts recognised the organisations in AIRTO’s membership as forming a critical part of the UK’s innovation ecosystem. He identified the gap in long-term funding for applied research organisations compared with the favourable dual-funding mechanism that has been available to Universities for generations. Lord Willetts expressed optimism for the Innovation, Research & Technology (IRT) sector with the recent formation of UK Research & Innovation, UKRI, and the government’s boost in public funding for R&D. Lord Willetts challenged AIRTO to continue to respond to government’s Industrial Strategy and UKRI’s current infrastructure roadmapping exercise.

The evening was hosted by AIRTO’s President, Professor Richard Brook OBE FREng, and AIRTO’s Chair, Dr Paul Howarth FREng. Richard Brook thanked Lord Willetts for his address and his continued support for the IRT sector. He noted the recent increase in activity of AIRTO with government in providing written evidence on a variety of innovation policy matters including the new goal of 2.4% of GDP for investment in R&D, the skills agenda, and the implications of Brexit for science and innovation.

Highlighting the vital role that our members play in working behind the scenes to make AIRTO successful, Paul Howarth presented the Special Recognition Awards. These awards recognised a handful of people who have made an exceptional contribution to the UK’s IRT sector in four categories:

Best Practice in Innovation
This award went to Lisa Rowles of HORIBA MIRA for her exceptional commitment and long-service to AIRTO in promoting best practice through leading our Human Resources Interest Group.

Lisa, who is Human Resources Director for HORIBA MIRA, has been the Chair of AIRTO’s Human Resources Interest Group for more than a decade, and has worked very hard in that time to help member organisations share best practice. Commenting on her award, Lisa said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to accept this award which reflects the hard work of the group and our members commitment to the skilled people we employ, and to making our organisations the very best places to work’.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
The award for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion went to Public Health England for their exceptional work in advancement of equality, diversity and inclusion in the IRT sector through Project SEARCH, a scheme to help young people with learning difficulties and autism gain meaningful employment. Paul Laidler and Gwyn Morris accepted the award on behalf of Public Health England.

Unsung Hero
The award for our Unsung Hero recognised dedicated commitment in working behind the scenes to further AIRTO’s mission to foster collaboration between members. This was an opportunity to acknowledge the work put in over the past 5 years to the smooth running of our Health & Safety Interest Group by Sue Rogers of BRE Group.

Innovation Sector Champion
This award recognised exceptional commitment and long-service to our community in helping to promote dialogue on innovation policy. This was an opportunity for AIRTO to show appreciation for all the work put in over many years, especially through the Public Sector & EU Interest Group, by Peter Oakley of TWI Ltd.

L-R Paul Howarth , Gwyn Morris, Anthony Baxendale (rep. Lisa Rowles), Paul Laidler, Peter Oakley, Sue Rogers, Richard Brook

Read Richard Brook’s speech