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David Sweeney

Executive Chair
Research England (Confirmed)

David Sweeney is Director (Research and Knowledge Exchange). He is currently responsible for research policy and funding, knowledge exchange and university-business relations. He is also Executive Chair Designate of Research England, the Council which will be responsible for university research and knowledge exchange within the forthcoming body UK Research & Innovation. After gaining First Class Honours in Statistics at the University of Aberdeen, David worked at two Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) research institutes, as a consultant statistician then developing mathematical models of plant growth. His work on the computational aspects of this led into broader applications of IT in education and research, and he was Director of Information Services at Royal Holloway, University of London, before moving into university leadership as Vice-Principal (Communications, Enterprise and Research) in 2004. In this role he was responsible for research strategy and for developing Royal Holloway’s research-led commercial and consultancy activities. He joined HEFCE in 2008 as Director (Research, Innovation and Skills) and led the development and implementation of the first Research Excellence Framework including the new impact agenda element. David has been invited to visit many countries to advise on research assessment and funding, particularly with respect to research impact. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in 2012, was Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Newcastle, NSW in 2015 and is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.

  • Fostering better collaborations between academic bodies and government
  • Creating opportunities for public policy professionals and academics to learn from each other
  • Discussing how policy and funding can impact the skills base in STEM subjects and generate a new wave of talent
  • Increasing UK expenditure on R&D to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027 to grow the economy, culture and society
  • Providing a basis on which policymakers can build a framework to measure and evaluate the return on investment from all R&D

  • Creating opportunities for public policy professionals and academics to learn from each other
  • Ensuring that research in regional areas is equally funded in alignment with the National Interest and Industrial Strategy
  • Achieving greater standardisation, more streamlining and a broader approach to excellence
  • Designing REF to reflect how early career researchers want to be treated