DSIT bolsters leadership team to drive UK science and tech

Experts in health, law, risk management and marketing have been appointed to oversee the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s (DSIT) work to transform the UK into a science and technology superpower, bolstering the DSIT board with a series of key leadership figures. 

Marking a significant milestone for the department as work continues at pace in its second year, and following a rigorous and open recruitment process, the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology has appointed a diverse and highly qualified group of Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) to the DSIT Departmental Board and Audit, Risk and Assurance Committee (ARAC). The newly appointed NEDs bring a broad range of experience, from across the science, technology, and digital sectors.

  • Shonnel Malani will be reappointed to the Lead Non-Executive Director role, providing strategic oversight and guidance to the department.
  • Melissa Di Donato, Jason Chin, and Saul Klein will continue their roles from the Start-up Board to the new DSIT Departmental Board.
  • They will be joined by new appointees Dominic Field and Liz Cohen. Liz will also chair DSIT’s new ARAC.
  • Bryan Ingleby, Gillian Leng Mark Poulton and Vikas Shah will join Liz on the ARAC.

The Departmental Board will provide over-arching strategic guidance and insight, as the department looks to continue with the UK’s mission for science, technology and innovation to drive economic growth, create jobs, and improve lives.

Strengthening the department’s scientific expertise, Professor Christopher Johnson will join DSIT in July as the department’s first Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA). Professor Johnson brings over 20 years of experience in engineering and physical sciences, with a focus on safety and security.

His impressive background includes esteemed fellowships with NASA and the US Air Force as well as playing an instrumental role in establishing cyber security labs for the UK Civil Nuclear industry. He is currently Pro Vice Chancellor for Engineering and Physical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast.

Science, Innovation, and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan said: "This exceptional group of leaders is a welcome addition to DSIT. Their deep industry experience, alongside Professor Johnson's unparalleled scientific expertise will be invaluable as we build on a highly successful first year, including hosting the first ever global AI Summit, securing association to the £92bn Horizon Europe research programme and passing legislation to make the UK the safest place to be online.

“This diverse team will place insight from the cutting-edge of industry and academia at that heart of our work, positioning us perfectly to deliver on our ambitious agenda, securing the UK's place as a global powerhouse in science, technology, and innovation."

Shonnel Malani said: “I am pleased to rejoin the department as DSIT's lead non-executive director. In doing so, I welcome back Melissa Di Donato, Saul Klein and Jason Chin who have already provided incredible support and expertise to DSIT. We will be joined by experts Dominic Field and Liz Cohen, to form the new Departmental Board.

“I look forward to working closely with them and our incoming ARAC NEDs as we offer advice and assurance to the department as it delivers its priorities and positions the UK as a science and tech superpower.”

Professor Christopher Johnson said: “I’m delighted to be joining DSIT at a time of huge opportunity for the future wellbeing of this country. I’m committed to working across government to champion a ‘whole of society’ approach to innovation, ensuring we extend the fruits of scientific advancement to all corners of society.

"Whilst it may be challenging, our mission to embrace disruptive technologies, leverage research to drive economic growth and grasp the opportunities for international collaboration will create opportunities to build a safe, secure, and thriving future for all."

Professor Johnson will work as part of the team of the National Technology Adviser, Dr David Smith, and collaborate with other departmental CSAs under the leadership of the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Dame Angela McLean.

Government Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Dame Angela McLean said: “Congratulations to Professor Christopher Johnson who has been appointed as Chief Scientific Adviser for DSIT. Professor Johnson is a leading researcher in cyber security for safety critical computing systems and brings a wealth of expertise and experience to government. It is a pleasure to welcome him to the network of Chief Scientific Advisers.”

These appointments come at a pivotal time for DSIT, building on a hugely successful first year. From the development of life-saving treatments to the creation of new highly skilled jobs, research and development (R&D) has shaped the world we live in, for the better. That’s why the Prime Minister created a department dedicated to science, innovation and technology, and why we’ve increased our R&D budget to the highest this country has ever seen.

In its first year, DSIT boosted investment in R&D to £19.4 billion, reaching £20 billion this year. This record investment is a key part of how the government is delivering the long-term change our country needs to guarantee a brighter future for the UK, growing the economy and improving opportunity for everyone.

With its strong leadership and robust scientific expertise, DSIT is well-positioned to achieve its ambitious goal of making the UK a global innovation leader and a science and technology superpower.

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