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Innovation and Skills Panel

Working with the Insight and Policy team, this volunteer-led panel provides strategic advice to Government, responds to consultations, delivers thought leadership and develops position statements and other materials within their fields of expertise.

If you would like to find out more on the roles and responsibilities of the panel, become a member or have any questions, please get in touch with us today at


Dr Graham Herries

Dr Graham Herries is an Engineering Director working in the field of Industry 4.0 technologies and Digital Transformation. He was previously Senior Vice President for Engineering at Digital Barriers, where he led the engineering function and technology direction of the business. Having pivoted the organisation to create a cloud platform for the IoT devices launched, he exited following its successful acquisition in 2022.

He previously worked for Laing O’Rourke where he provided the executive leadership for the ongoing strategic digital transformation of the organisation. During this period, he successfully created and led a project funded by the EU H2020 framework, delivering innovation through the development of Industry 4.0 technologies for scheduling optimisation across Construction, Manufacturing and Rail, utilising IoT, AI and Digital Twin technologies. Prior to this role Graham was the Head of the Software Centre of Excellence at Rolls-Royce. He worked for Thales for 8 years on several naval projects living in both the UK and France. Graham holds a PhD in Data Analytics & Machine Learning. He is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the IET and APMP qualified. He has recently been appointed as a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor.


Dr Marko Bacic

Dr Marko Bacic is an Engineering Associate Fellow in Control Systems and Gas Turbine Functionality at Rolls-Royce, and also holds a University Research Lectureship at Oxford University. He helps drive Rolls-Royce technology strategy within Civil Aerospace, is responsible for leading a number of research projects on the interface between control systems, aerodynamics and heat transfer as well as helping with continuous improvement of current products and services.

He has published more than 40 papers in conferences and journals and holds more than 20 patents and patent applications with some already in service across a broad range of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace products. Earlier in his career, he was a full-time academic at Oxford and has also worked for the Renault F1 Team as part of the Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Secondment scheme.

Yvonne Baker

Yvonne is a Chartered Chemical Engineer and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts with a background in manufacturing and international consultancy. She joined STEMNET in 2002 to establish the STEM Ambassadors programme and was Chief Executive of STEMNET from 2005 to 2010.

An Engineering Council Trustee from 2010 to 2016, she currently sits on the National Media Museum Board and the STFC Skills and Engagement Advisory Board and is a governor of two secondary schools. She won the First Woman in Science award in 2015, supported by the CBI. Since 2010, Yvonne has been Chief Executive of STEM Learning, which successfully manages a range of programmes supporting STEM education and skills via the National STEM Learning Network.

Dr Devaki Bhatta

Devaki is an experienced biotechnology professional with 15 years’ technical and commercial experience in integrated diagnostics development for Point-of-Use settings, including agri-food, healthcare and industrial bioprocessing applications. She has a strong track record of efficient co-ordination and timely delivery of complex interdisciplinary R&D projects at the interface of bioscience and engineering disciplines.

She is well-versed in cross-sector, cross-border and academia-industry translation of platform sensing and sampling technologies from research concept through to product launch in dynamic SME environments. Devaki is also actively involved in the wider UK innovation landscape, playing an industrial advisory role for various national funding and innovation agencies, including Innovate UK, Knowledge Transfer Network Ltd, BBSRC and the European Commission.

Simon Calver

Simon is best known for his 7-year tenure as CEO at LOVEFiLM, one of the successes of the UK venture industry – leading the eventual exit to Amazon in 2011. He went on to become CEO of Mothercare plc, kickstarting the turnaround plan and accelerating international expansion in over 30 countries. Before this, he worked at multinationals such as Unilever, led PepsiCo in the UK, and was General manager at Dell. He is also currently chairman of and chemistdirect. His degree was in Computer Science.

Professor Tom Crick MBE

Tom is Professor of Digital Education & Policy at Swansea University and his academic interests sit at the research/policy interface: STEM education, science and innovation policy, digital transformation, data science, intelligent systems, and infrastructure for the digital/data economy. He is also a Commissioner of the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales, as well as a non-executive director of Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water.

Tom has been heavily involved in curriculum reform in Wales: in 2013, he chaired the Welsh Government’s review of the ICT curriculum, and is currently chairing the development of the Science & Technology area of learning and experience in the new Curriculum for Wales. He was appointed MBE in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to computer science and the promotion of computer science education; he is a Fellow of the IET, a Chartered Engineer and a Chartered Scientist.

Professor Tim Dafforn

Tim Dafforn is Professor of Biotechnology at the University of Birmingham. His research focuses on the exploitation of biological components to produce new materials for sensing. As part of his work, he has also founded two technology companies that enable the exploitation of his research.

Tim has also spent three and a half years working in central government, first as an entrepreneur in residence at BIS and then as Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Entrepreneurial Adviser at BEIS, where he developed policy in areas of student entrepreneurship and SME growth.

Tom Egan

Tom Egan is an Executive at Leonardo Helicopters where his role is focussed on Business Development and Capability Management. Working across the business, he has particularly close ties with Manufacturing and Engineering. Tom has become increasingly involved in the Digital arena, exploring the rapid growth of opportunity to transform not only products but the way we work and even society itself.

Dr Miles Elsden

Dr Miles Elsden’s early career was as an academic in France, Germany, and the UK, followed by several years writing software in Brussels. He returned to the UK in 2004 to work for the Ministry of Defence. He then joined the office of the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser (GO-Science), working as Sir John Beddington’s Head of Civil Contingencies, Defence and Security.

In early 2012 Miles was appointed Chief Scientist at the UK’s Department for Transport, advising on issues including Autonomous Vehicles, Infrastructure and Big Data. Miles left Government at the end of 2015 to work with a US-based AI firm and now splits his time between UCL and advisory/consultancy work providing strategic science, technology and innovation advice for a number of clients across different sectors and industries.

Elspeth Finch

Elspeth Finch MBE is the founder and CEO of IAND, a technology platform designed for project teams to help them drive efficiency and deliver projects faster. Aged 24, Elspeth started her first technology business Intelligent Space Partnership, which she sold to Atkins in 2007.

She is active in shaping the government’s engineering policy with a focus on innovation and diversity through her work at the Royal Academy of Engineering, where she chairs the Innovators’ Network. She is a judge on the Launchpad competition for early-stage entrepreneurs and sits on its Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Previous awards include an MBE for her services to Engineering and Enterprise (2017); Silver Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering (2013); and World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders (2010).

Professor Josie A Fraser

Josie joined the Open University in March 2017 but describes her interest in the Open University and it's mission as 'long term' after being a tutor on an OU MSc course back in the early 2000s, an experience that influenced her teaching for many years. Josie was previously Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics before taking up the DVC role from 1st January 2019.

A passionate believer in opening up opportunity, Josie enjoys outreach (bringing amazing OU research into schools and out to the general public), supporting the development of academic careers, and loves working at the Open University where the myriad of student journeys are a constant source of inspiration. 

Dr David Massey

Dr David Massey is Head of Strategic Intelligence at The Trussell Trust, responsible for providing high-quality intelligence and insight to help form and shape its strategic direction, both internally and externally. Before that, he was the Head of Business Planning and Strategy at Dstl. He was responsible for the shaping and monitoring the strategic direction of the organisation, reporting to the Dstl Chief Executive.  His remit covered the entire scope of S&T areas relevant to the MoD, working to ensure that the S&T capabilities of Dstl and its Partners align to current and future defence and security priorities.

Prior to this, he was the Domain Leader for C4ISR research and the Programme Manager for the Integrated Sensing programme within the C4ISR Domain. Other roles have included working as part of the MoD’s Science Innovation Technology (SIT) organisation as the Strategy Technical Leader for the Chemical Biological and Radiological Defence and Directed Energy Weapons research programmes.

John Mitchell

John Mitchell is Professor of Communications Systems Engineering in the UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Vice-Dean Education in the UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences and Co-Director of the UCL Centre for Engineering Education, a join centre between Engineering and the Institute of Education.

Between 2012 and 2016 he led the introduction of the Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP) at UCL - a major curriculum change programme that introduced problem-based learning and restructured the undergraduate programmes of eight departments in the faculty.

Professor Mitchell is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Member of the Board of Directors of the European Society for Engineering Education and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Jon Salkeld

Jon is the Technology Director for BP’s Advanced Mobility Unit. He joined BP in 2011 as the global head for product development across the automotive lubricant business, before moving to the disruptive innovation group Castrolinno Ventures. Previously, Jon spent nine years with QinetiQ leading up to and beyond IPO. He successfully led and grew the Signal & Information Processing Group, a Medical Technology startup and the frontier physics Optronics Division.

Prior to this, Jon spent 11 years with ICI in a variety of technology management, strategic planning, marketing, and global business management roles, including stints in the Netherlands, Spain and Singapore. He is a Fellow of the IET and a former media fellow for the RAEng for whom he undertook a secondment to raise the profile of engineering at the BBC.

Rupert Shute

Rupert is Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser at the Home Office. His career has spanned the development of robotic systems for nuclear decommissioning, pioneering the application of VR and AR to engineering design and developing distributed sensor networks. He began his career as an Electronic Engineering Apprentice, following which he won a prestigious Sir Joseph Whitworth Scholarship to undertake academic studies.

In addition to his Engineering career, Rupert has a keen interest in community ownership business models and has been a guest speaker on this topic at the Henley Business School. In a voluntary capacity, he chaired a community co-operative with over 500 hundred members; during his six-year tenure, the organisation won the BBC Food and Farming Awards – Best Retail Initiative.

Dave Smith

David Smith BSc PhD CPhys FIET joined Rolls Royce in 2017 as its Director of Central Technology from Ricardo. At Ricardo, Dave was Managing Director of Automotive Engineering Consulting, which is a multinational business with major sites in five European countries, also with teams in Japan, India and Korea. Previously he was Global Head of PA Consulting’s technology consulting, product development and innovation business for four years.

During the preceding five years, when he was Managing Director of Roke Manor, the communications and software R&D company, it received the Queens Award for Innovation and multiple other awards for engineering and also recognition as Best Employer. Dave holds a PhD in Physics from Warwick University.

Paulina Tenner

Paulina is an entrepreneur, angel investor, a TEDx speaker and founder of GrantTree, which helps tech start-ups navigate the complex world of government funding. Since 2010 the team has grown organically from two to 40 and raised over £75m for more than 600 technology start-ups and scale-ups using solely government funding schemes such as R&D tax credits and Innovate UK grants.

GrantTree is an open culture company, which pioneered an open salary scheme and an empowering culture governed by holacracy. Paulina is also a seed investor and a start-up mentor (e.g. at Cherie Blair Foundation), who often features as a speaker at technology conferences worldwide.

Professor Sean Wellington

Professor Sean Wellington is Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at Middlesex University.

Sean began his career in the engineering industry, initially as an Apprentice and then Engineering Technician with Marconi Defence Systems, progressing to hold senior leadership roles in higher education.

Sean is a Chartered Engineer and has a particular interest in engineering education and the professional formation of Engineers. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Chris Winder

Chris is an Electric Vehicle Test Technician working for Intertek. Previously, he worked for Siemens in rolling stock repairs and completed an Advanced Apprenticeship with BAE Systems in their Electronic Systems division.

He has pushed the interests of Apprentices within the IET as part of the Young Professionals Communities Committee since 2016. He is currently upskilling through an Integrated master with the OU.