17 Feb

Innovate UK CEO praises passion and energy of Innovative Leicestershire

Nik Kotecha and Indro Mukerjee

Innovate UK Chief Executive Indro Mukerjee praised the energy and passion of Innovative Leicestershire in a keynote speech to the sold-out LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards.

Addressing a full house at the National Space Centre on Thursday night, he reflected on a day spent touring Space Park Leicester, meeting the LLEP Innovation Board, and talking with local businesses.

And he praised the energy and passion of the innovation community in the region, which was last week pulled together with the launch of the new Innovative Leicestershire brand and website.

“Understanding at a local level is vitally important,” he told the audience.

 “The activity I saw today by the LLEP and the universities in this region, as well as its entrepreneurs, is very impressive.

“There’s clearly a vibrancy and I got a sense of innovation and a great sense of local identity as well.

“These are great signals for optimism and the people and businesses I met today give me confidence for the future. They inspire us to do more and go further.” 

Innovation Festival 2023

Leicestershire Live Innovation Awards 2023 (Will Johnston)

The fifth LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards was organised by Reach and was the flagship event of the Leicestershire Innovation Festival.

The festival is organised by the Business Gateway Growth Hub and overseen by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) Innovation Board.

Mr Mukerjee spoke about the work of Innovate UK, his thoughts on the Leicestershire ecosystem and the nation’s skills gap.

“As a nation, we need to be able to hone the skills and passion of innovators and turn that into jobs,” he told the audience.

Referencing the importance of diversity and inclusion in UK innovation in order to create the world-leading products and services of the future, he said: “The hope is to get our skills gap filled with more and more innovators from diverse communities. That is the game changer.”

Touching upon the idea of Place in innovation, he described the importance of celebrating local people and the pride that they have in their local areas. This can be then harnessed into local innovation communities.

Emma Fieldhouse and Asha Mistry at Innovation Awards

Leicestershire Live Innovation Awards 2023 (Will Johnston)

Mr Mukerjee urged organisations of all sizes, from large public organisations to small businesses,  to be bold in making use of local assets to go forward and inspire others.

Concluding with the importance of events such as the Innovation Awards to inspire potential innovators and be viewed as more “rock and roll”, he said: “We need more success and stimulus to get people to want to be on that stage”.

Other speakers included:

  • Professor Gary James, Head of Manufacturing Innovation at Rolls Royce, who spoke about the people and power required to reach the next stage of space flight
  • Professor Katie Normington, Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University Leicester, who spoke about strategic innovation as a means of increasing productivity and the success of the recent QUIDS project pilot in transferring research to small businesses
  • Professor Phil Baker, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at University of Leicester, who described the university’s 100-year record of discovery and its foundation in its local area.

There was a record number of nominations for this year’s awards and 10 winners were named from across business, education, non-profits, and research. 

LLEP Innovation Board Chair Dr Nik Kotecha OBE DL was honoured with the Outstanding Contribution Award and Carbon Vue, which had taken the Innovation in Logistics and Exports category, was also named Innovator of the Year.

Earlier in the day, Mr Mukerjee had toured Space Park Leicester with representatives of the University of Leicester, meeting businesses and researchers.

He then sat in on an Innovation Board briefing led by Dr Kotecha, before going on to meet six innovative early-stage businesses from Leicester and Leicestershire.

Leicestershire Innovation Festival 2023 concludes today.

Look at new Innovative Leicestershire website