Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Executive Chair

Body: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Appointing Department: Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Sector: Science & Technology
Location: London or Swindon
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £120-130k with Performance Related Pay of up to 10% (Please note: remuneration and expenses are taxable)
Time Requirements: To secure the best candidate, UKRI is willing to consider a secondment arrangement on the basis that the role will require a minimum commitment of 4 working days per week. This arrangement would allow a candidate to retain one day a week to maintain research activity with their current employer. Any potential conflicts of interest would be managed through the UKRI Conflicts of Interest policy, which can be shared with candidates before applying.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

About UKRI and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

UKRI was established in 2018 and brought together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England into one NDPB. BBSRC, one of UKRI’s Councils, has a mission to promote and support high quality research and innovation relating to the understanding and exploitation of biological systems and provide trained scientists and engineers to advance knowledge and technology, contributing to UK economic competitiveness and wellbeing.

BBSRC also manages a portfolio of divested research institutes which are important national facilities, these are the BabrahamInstitute, Earlham Institute, Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, John Innes Institute, The Pirbright Institute, QuadramInstitute, Roslin Institute and RothamstedResearch.

You can find out more about UKRI and the BBSRC here.

The Role

The Executive Chair, working with the BBSRC’s Council Members, is responsible for setting the strategic vision for BBSRC and contributing to the wider direction of UKRI. As the visible and credible leader of BBSRC you will manage its teams providing direction and intellectual leadership, ensuring delivery of research, skills, and infrastructure investments.

As a member of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Executive Committee, you will be accountable to, and work closely with, the UKRI Chief Executive Officer. You will have a critical wider role within UKRI and in championing and increasing the impact ofthe life sciences.

The Executive Chair will work closely with Government, including the devolved administrations, and in particular through DEFRA, DHSC and FCDO. The Executive Chair will also work closely with the Higher Education Funding Councils and with stakeholders, including industry, through a variety of approaches aimed at promoting the translation and take-up of the outcomes of BBSRC-supported research.

Additional aspects of the role may be developed over time including leadership for a cross cutting UKRI theme.



  • Set the strategic vision and long-term strategic goals for BBSRC;
  • Ensure successful delivery of the BBSRC objectives and outcomes, providing the inclusive leadership, and the vision to nurture a research community and culture that will deliver the quality, outputs and impacts of its research, skills and capital investment portfolio;
  • Work collaboratively with the rest of the management team and Board to provide overall leadership and direction to UKRI; modelling the culture and behaviours required to bring to life UKRI’s values;
  • Work in close collaboration with the Deputy Executive Chair of BBSRC and lead and develop the capacity and capability of the BBSRC Executive team;
  • Work at all times with integrity and to the highest professional standards-aligned to the seven principles of public life;
  • Embed equality, diversity and inclusion across the portfolio of BBSRC activities.

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Work with the Senior Independent Member (SIM) of BBSRC and other Council members to lead and develop BBSRC’s strategic approach to world class bio-science research and training.
  • Actively engage and consult with the academic community, charities, Government, devolved administrations and industry to develop and catalyse new ideas and communicate the strategic outputs. This will involve close engagement with stakeholders in the full range of industries interested in the biological sciences, and with other non-industry-based stakeholders and the public.
  • Be a core member of the UKRI Executive Committee, working to deliver the best value from the overall research and innovation funding system and actively contribute to delivery of mission of UKRI.
  • Act to ensure UK Research and Innovation provides a strong, unified voice for science, research and innovation in the UK and globally, both in facilitating the dialogue with governments and funding partners on the world stage.
  • Represent and develop positive relationships between the BBSRC and its numerous and diverse stakeholders in government and public funding agencies, higher education institutions, academic and research communities, business, especially bioscience-using industries, and the public at large and internationally.

Finance, Planning and Analysis

  • Maximise efficiency and ensure value for money from public investment;
  • Work closely with the UKRI CFO to ensure robust budget planning and financial control.
  • Work closely with the UKRI Executive Director for Strategy, Governance and Engagement to ensure robust analysis underpins decisions and evidences outcomes.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria:

  • An ability to develop a clear and transformative strategic vision for BBSRC;
  • A good communicator able to command confidence and have credibility across the academic and industrial domains of BBSRC and wider stakeholder landscape;
  • A senior leader and manager, able to deliver research and innovation results;
  • Expertise and credibility in communicating the insights from the biological sciences and turning them into impact;
  • Capable of a collegiate approach across UKRI, working with peers on the Executive Committee to deliver against a shared strategy for UK R&D;
  • An ability to advise on major business developments that impact on the Council’s role or activities and on its exposure to and management of risk;
  • Ability to manage and build the capability of a diverse cadre of skilled employees and programme managers and able to inspire and motivate colleagues throughout the organisation.


  • Understanding of current developments in the full spectrum of the biological sciences and other areas relevant to the work of the BBSRC;
  • An ability to understand and demonstrate the highest standards of research in the biological disciplines and its wider relevance to and impact on the cultural, social and economic wellbeing of the country;
  • Knowledge and understanding of synthetic biology

Additional Information

This is a Public Appointment, made by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. The post holder will be an office holder and an employee of UKRI.

The successful candidate will be encouraged to take up their appointment as soon as possible, following the successful completion of pre-appointment checks and security clearance.

If you are shortlisted for the role, due diligence will be carried out.

Shortlisted candidates may also be required to complete a written exercise as part of their assessment. The written exercise will be assessed against the essential criteria for this campaign and support will be offered to those candidates requiring a reasonable adjustment.

Interviews will be held in person at UKRI’s office in Central London.

This appointment is subject to pre-appointment scrutiny by the Science and Technology Select Committee. Pre-appointment scrutiny is an important part of the appointment process for some of the most significant public appointments made by Ministers. It is designed to provide an added level of scrutiny to verify that the recruitment meets the principles set out in the Governance Code on Public Appointments.

Information concerning the appointment and the Government’s preferred candidate will be shared with the relevant select committee. As part of this process you will need to be content for your name and your CV to be shared with the Science and Technology Select Committee as the Government’s preferred candidate.

Further information can be found in the applicant pack.

BBSRC Executive Chair Candidate Pack _ September 5
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