Freeport East has appointed Steven Wilson as its new Head of Innovation. He will lead engagement with universities, colleges, R&D centres, large and small businesses and a range of public and private funders and investors to ensure that Freeport East builds an innovation cluster that supports local businesses and communities and helps position the region for greater inward investment and skills opportunities.
The appointment follows Freeport East receiving final Government approvals on 10th January and the release of £25m of seed capital to support early development.
Welcoming the appointment, Steve Beel, Chief Executive of Freeport East, said:
“Freeport East is delighted to have been able to attract someone of Steven’s calibre and experience. He will bring immense passion and dedication to delivering on our ambitions.“Innovation really is the beating heart of our vision for Freeport East. Ranging from our Green Hydrogen Hub through to use of advanced digital technologies in port operations, we want the area to be known for innovative, ground-breaking companies, technologies and services that help tackle both global and local challenges. That will mean building on, and helping to market, many of the businesses and innovation assets that are already doing great work in this space – but it will also mean delivering on new opportunities, attracting new sources of funding, building new collaborations and partnerships and selling our vision to new investors in the area.”
Steven Wilson said:
“Having lived in the East of England for over 15 years, I have worked in multiple roles to promote it as a national and international hotbed of innovation. This role is a fantastic opportunity to extend that strong advocacy into the exciting new technologies, products and services that will make Freeport East a Global Freeport for a Global Britain.”
Steven, a Fellow of the Institute of Economic Development, has served as Head of Innovation for both the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority. He has worked in business support, skills and inward investment across the UK, latterly as interim Head of Business Growth & Inward Investment for the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership. He has also worked in the private sector and was a Non-Executive Director of the Cambridge-based Med Tech Accelerator Ltd, a proof-of-concept investment fund for breakthrough medical devices.
Innovation is a key part of the Freeport East proposals with active partners including the University of Essex, University of Suffolk, Adastral Park, Knowledge Gateway and Hutchison Ports. Development plans include new centres of innovation at Gateway 14 and Harwich and greater support for business innovation along the Freeport East coast.
The universities of Essex and Suffolk as well as a range of other partners in the region have committed to working with Freeport East and its businesses to accelerate innovation across operations, products and services. They will also help unlock further investment in research and development to boost development of the area’s knowledge-based economy.