NMIS appoints former UKRI Challenge Director as Chief Executive Officer

The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) has appointed former UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge Director, Chris Courtney, as Chief Executive Officer.

Operated by the University of Strathclyde, NMIS is a group of industry-led manufacturing research and development facilities focused on revolutionising skills, productivity, technologies and innovation to make Scotland and the UK a global leader in advanced manufacturing.

Chris will be responsible for providing direction, vision and commercial and operational leadership, working with businesses, universities and public sector partners to drive growth through innovation, new talent and novel advanced manufacturing technologies.

The role will also include oversight of NMIS headquarters, currently under construction next to Glasgow Airport , and the aligned research Centres which form the NMIS Group and which will initially include the Advanced Forming Research Centre, Lightweight Manufacturing Centre, Digital Factory, Digital Process Manufacturing Centre in North Ayrshire and the Manufacturing Skills Academy.

NMIS is a collaboration between the University of Strathclyde, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council and Renfrewshire Council. It is part of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which is funded through Innovate UK.

It works with manufacturing businesses of all sizes to make it easier for them to innovate, turn ideas into a reality, address global challenges and ultimately become more competitive. Through the NMIS Group, manufacturers are connected with a national and international network of world-leading industry and academic experts and collaborators.

Chair of the NMIS Board and Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, Professor Sir Jim McDonald said: “We are delighted to appoint Chris Courtney to this important role. Chris is a collaborative leader with excellent industrial experience and strong, cross-sectoral connections throughout the manufacturing innovation ecosystem in the UK. He has a track record of shaping policy and delivering vital innovation and transformation, and under his visionary leadership NMIS will continue to grow and prosper. I very much look forward to welcoming Chris to the team.”

Chris said: “Across all parts of manufacturing we face considerable challenges and opportunities. In order to boost competitiveness, sustainability and resilience we must accelerate manufacturing innovation and create new products, services and businesses. NMIS brings together a really powerful coalition of innovators from world leading companies, universities and start ups that will play a vital part in that transformation. I’m delighted to have been asked to lead the NMIS team as we create the future we want for manufacturing in Scotland and across the UK.”

The Scottish Government’s Business Minister, Ivan McKee said: “I warmly welcome Chris’s appointment. An innovative, dynamic manufacturing sector will be vital to delivering progress set out in our National Strategy for Economic Transformation and is why we have supported the NMIS project with £75 million of investment.

“Chris’s extensive experience, including long-standing membership of our Making Scotland’s Future programme board, makes him ideally placed to help manufacturers in Scotland reach their productivity and sustainability goals whilst taking advantage of new market opportunities. I look forward to working with him.”

Adrian Gillespie, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise said: “Congratulations to Chris on his appointment. The wealth of experience and expertise in manufacturing innovation he brings to the role will be a tremendous asset to NMIS. I very much look forward to working with Chris and the team in driving forward our shared vision of being a global leader in advanced manufacturing.”

Katherine Bennett, CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult said: ““I’m delighted to welcome Chris to the HVMC family. NMIS is the major HVMC presence in Scotland and has a vital role to play in delivering industrial transformation. I’m looking forward to working in partnership with Chris and other CEOs in our national network of innovation centres to do this, unleashing the full potential of the manufacturing industry.”

In his previous role with UKRI, Chris was responsible for delivering a national investment programme of £147m through the Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge programme, delivering productive, sustainable manufacturing through digital innovation.

Chris supports the Made National Commission, the BEIS supply chain expert policy group, the Making Scotland’s future Programme Board and is on the advisory board for DETI, a digital engineering Initiative. He holds a range of advisory group memberships in the Made Smarter Programme, including four research centres and two innovation hubs advisory groups. Within Innovate UK he was involved in the development of the future strategy for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and the development of net zero and manufacturing strategy.

Chris has an aeronautical engineering degree from Queens University Belfast, a Master’s degree in aerodynamics from Cranfield University and an MBA from the University of Warwick Business School. He has previously worked with Deloitte, MDS Aero, 4energy, and Rolls-Royce Group.

NMIS’ flagship headquarters is currently under construction and due to open later this year. The 30,502m2 facility is located in the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland at Netherton Square in Renfrewshire alongside the new Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

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