AIRTO President to retire in 2024

Steve Yianni FREng will be retiring as President of AIRTO in 2024.

Steve Yianni FREng

Steve, who has served on the AIRTO Board since 2017, and as Vice President since 2019, succeeded Richard Brook OBE FREng as President in 2020. He has seen AIRTO navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic which presented enormous challenges for the UK’s Innovation, Research & Technology (IRT) sector and through very significant increases in AIRTO’s influence with policy makers. This has been a very successful chapter for AIRTO and our sector, with the government announcing record spending levels for Science and Innovation and recognising the critical role of the IRT sector assets in the UK’s plan for growth – Steve has played a pivotal role in bringing about those advances.

Steve is announcing his retirement now in order to allow for a planned succession to take place. AIRTO will be active in recruiting for a new President in due course.

Commenting on his plan to retire from AIRTO next year Steve said:
“It has been a privilege to serve on the AIRTO Board since 2017, and to have acted as President since 2020. AIRTO has been able to increase the visibility and awareness of the Innovation, Research & Technology community, which is now recognised as a critical part of the UK innovation ecosystem. I look forward to working with my successor in due course to ensure a smooth transition.”

AIRTO’s Chair, Andrew Jamieson and CEO of the ORE Catapult said:
“ On behalf of AIRTO’s Board and membership, I would like to say a huge thank you to Steve for tremendous commitment to advancing the profile of the UK’s Innovation, Research and Technology sector. Steve has been an exemplary President and has demonstrated very well what a huge impact AIRTO has in policy advocacy”.

Dr Jane Gate, AIRTO’s Executive Director said:
“I would like to recognise Steve’s fantastic contributions to AIRTO over many years. We are tremendously fortunate to have had Steve’s insight, experience and leadership and I look forward to continuing to work alongside him as part of the AIRTO team until he retires in 2024.”


AIRTO is the Association of Innovation, Research and Technology Organisations. Its membership comprises approximately sixty of the principal organisations operating in the UK’s innovation, research and technology (IRT) sector. The IRT sector has a combined turnover of £6.9Bn, employing over 57,000 scientific and technical staff (equivalent to the academic staffing of the Russell Group of universities) and, for comparison, it is significantly larger than the network of Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany both in size and scope of activities. The sector contributes £34Bn to UK GDP. AIRTO’s members work at the interface between academia and industry, for both private and public sector clients in the UK and overseas. Members cover a very wide range of industries from for example, agriculture and food, pharma and bio, energy generation and distribution, manufacturing and the built environment. They may be industry specific or have cross-sectorial expertise. Members include Independence Research and Technology Organisations, Catapult Centres, Public Research Establishments, National Laboratories, university Technology Transfer Offices and privately held innovation organisations.

About Steve Yianni FREng

Steve is a chartered engineer, and a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He graduated from the University of Cambridge with an Engineering degree, and has an MBA from London Business School. He began his career at the Ford Motor Company, where he worked mainly in Product Development on truck and engine projects. In 1991, he joined JCB, gaining 16 years’ experience in a variety of engineering and leadership roles. In 2008, Steve joined Network Rail and enjoyed five successful years working within the engineering and technical areas of the business, mainly as Director of Engineering. In 2013, he was appointed as Chief Executive of the Transport Systems Catapult; a position held until 2017. From 2020 until 2022, Steve has also been a Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at Cranfield University.