A former executive director with Jaguar Land Rover has been appointed chair of the West Midlands Innovation Board.
Mike Wright will bring his vast expertise in global industry and engineering to bear as he helps drive innovation and technological development across the West Midlands.
The new Innovation Board has been set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority to bring the region’s six universities and business together to work on ground breaking new projects.
A key focus will be to leverage more cash and investment into the region to support innovation.
Wright has over 40 years’ experience in the global auto sector including his role as executive director of JLR from 2010 to 2016 where he helped drive the firm’s international growth after Tata bought the company.
He has also been chair of the West Midlands CBI (Confederation of British Industry) Council, chair of the Automotive Investment Organisation and a director of the Engineering Employers Federation.
He has non-executive roles with the WMG Academy Trust Board, Aston University, Warwickshire Country Cricket Club and is a Governor at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
“The West Midlands has a wonderful track record for innovation going right back to the Industrial Revolution,” he said. “Today world class universities, and businesses large and small in the region are leading innovation on a global scale, encouraged by the Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street to compete on the international stage.
“The introduction of the WMCA Innovation Board will provide added impetus and I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to be its first chair.”
The West Midlands has already enjoyed success in securing government funds for research and development.
These include the 5G testbed, the National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility at the University of Warwick, the brownfield reclamation centre in Wolverhampton, the Life Sciences Park in Selly Oak and test facilities for autonomous vehicles in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “We are delighted that Mike is joining us to help drive innovation and growth.
“He enjoys the respect of both industry and the universities and will bring drive and the wealth of his experience to our new Innovation Board.
“We have been successful in securing support for research and development, but I believe we can significantly increase the amount of innovation funding coming into the region through this better co-ordinated approach.”
Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economic growth, said: “The creation of the Innovation Board and appointment of Mike Wright as chair will help us deliver on the aims of the emerging West Midlands Industrial Strategy.
“It will play a key role in nurturing our cutting edge companies in key sectors including automotive, life sciences and digital which play a crucial role in our economy.”
Jonathan Browning, who chairs the WMCA’s Strategic Economic Development Board, said: “We are looking forward to working closely with Mike and the Innovation Board to further accelerate the implementation of plans and projects that foster innovation and help drive economic growth across the West Midlands.”