Executive Chair- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Body: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Appointing Department: Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Sector: Science & Technology
Location: London and Swindon
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: The annual salary / remuneration package and detailed portfolio of responsibilities will be discussed with individual candidates depending on their skills and experience.
Time Requirements: Applications are very welcome from those who wish to work part-time, in particular as part of a job-share arrangement, and those who wish to undertake the role on secondment from their current employer.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Professor Philip Nelson to serve as EPSRC Executive Chair for six months
Professor Philip Nelson will serve as the Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) when it becomes part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
Professor Nelson is currently Chief Executive of EPSRC and has agreed to serve an additional six months beyond his existing term to enable a smooth transition to the new organisation when it comes into existence on 1 April 2018.
Executive Chairs will be crucial to the ambition for UKRI to be a world-leading research and innovation organisation. Each of the nine Councils that will be part of UKRI will be led by an Executive Chair, a role combining the responsibilities of the current Chair and Chief Executive of each Council

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

We are seeking an inspirational individual with international standing and a proven track record to lead the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as its Executive Chair, once it becomes one of the nine Councils of UK Research and Innovation in April 2018.

As part of UK Research and Innovation’s Executive Committee, the Executive Chair will have a critical role within UK Research and Innovation and in championing and increasing the impact of engineering and physical sciences. This includes chemistry, engineering, information and communication technologies, advanced materials, mathematical sciences and physics.

The EPSRC’s Executive Chair may also be responsible for leading and delivering one or more cross cutting areas for UK Research and Innovation, on behalf of all the Councils.


UK Research and Innovation

The creation of UK Research and Innovation represents the largest reform of the research and innovation funding landscape in the last 50 years. As a new, independent, non-departmental public body, it will bring together the functions of the seven Research Councils[1], Innovate UK, and the research and knowledge exchange functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (to be known as Research England). The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 (HERA), which underpins these reforms, received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017.


The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council:

The EPSRC invests in long-term, fundamental engineering and physical sciences research and training in the UK.

It advances knowledge and technology development and supports innovation through the exploitation of research outcomes. In partnership with universities and others, EPSRC trains and develops scientists and engineers who go on to work in areas including the chemical, communications, construction, electrical, electronic, energy, engineering, information technology, pharmaceutical, process and other industries. EPSRC thereby contributes to the economic competitiveness and quality of life of the United Kingdom.

EPSRC works closely with Government, other Research Councils and Innovate UK to support inter- and cross-disciplinary work. It engages with a wide range of industries using a number of approaches, including research institutes (e.g. the Henry Royce Institute and the Rosalind Franklin Institute) and research and technology hubs (including the eight Future Manufacturing Research Hubs and four current Centres for Innovative Manufacturing). Its total leverage from its portfolio was £1.2 billion 2016/17.

EPSRC is funded by the BEIS budgetary allocation. In 2016/17 the EPSRC gross research expenditure was £932.8 million. It employs around 250 domestic staff and in 2016 it supported 8500 post-graduate students and 6454 researchers, collaborating with businesses, industry, government, charities and many others.

The EPSRC will be established as one of nine Councils within UK Research and Innovation in April 2018, with delegated autonomy and authority, and with an individual delegated budget set by the BEIS Secretary of State. The Executive Chair will continue to be responsible for funding decisions within the EPSRC’s subject matter remit and for the health of the discipline in the UK. The historic mission and objectives of the EPSRC will not change as a consequence of its incorporation within UK Research and Innovation. However, the EPSRC will benefit from the significantly enhanced capability that UK Research and Innovation will bring, in a context of rising budgets for research and innovation. This includes a single UK Research and Innovation strategic, analytic and corporate centre with capability and expertise benefitting from economy of scale; much increased flexibility in developing multidisciplinary activity and joint working between the Councils; and a stronger more joined up voice within government.

[1]  The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Person Specification

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy wishes to attract the highest calibre of candidates with the appropriate academic standing for this role. The successful candidate will be able to command confidence and represent the EPSRC at the highest level and be able to demonstrate the following:

Skills, Experience and Standing

  • A highly respected mechanical, chemical or electronic engineer or other physical scientist of international standing with a proven track record;
  • An inspirational communicator able to command confidence and have credibility across both the academic domain of the engineering and physical sciences and the broader stakeholder landscape;

Strategic Vision

  • An ability to develop, lead and manage a clear and strategic vision for the engineering and physical sciences through the development of high quality, value for money programmes built on a thorough understanding of and engagement with the stakeholder landscape.
  • An ability to take a broad view of the EPSRC’s objectives and issues arising across the range of the engineering and physical sciences;
  • An ability to advise on major business developments which bring a significant change in the Council’s role or activities and on its exposure to and management of risk;

 Leadership and Management

  • Proven leadership and management skills with a deep understanding and experience of change management and evidence of having successfully led cultural change and organisational development;
  • Experience of managing and building capability of a cadre of skilled employees and programme managers and able to inspire and motivate colleagues at all levels in the organisation;

Breadth of Understanding

  • In depth understanding of current developments in the full spectrum of the engineering and physical science disciplines’ landscapes and other areas relevant to the work of the EPSRC; and
  • An ability to understand and demonstrate the highest standards of research in the engineering and physical science disciplines and its wider relevance to and impact on the cultural, social and economic wellbeing of the country.

Additional Information

BEIS is committed to providing equal opportunities for all, irrespective of race, age, disability, gender, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, transgender and working patterns and to the principle of public appointments on merit with independent assessments, openness and transparency of process. Applications are welcome from all, especially women, minority ethnic and disabled candidates who are under-represented at this level in public life.

In order to ensure that UK Research and Innovation is made up of executives with the appropriate level of skills and experience, both UK nationals, and international candidates are encouraged to apply.

Sir Paul Nurse’s review of the UK Research Councils, available at:


The Government’s White Paper, ‘Success as a Knowledge Economy’ available at:


The Higher Education and Research Act, available at:


 The Industrial Strategy Green Paper, available at:


How to Apply

Please submit the following documents by email to publicappointments@beis.gov.uk

  • A Covering Letter
  • A CV
  • Candidates application form
  • Diversity monitoring form
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Executive Chair Diversity Monitoring Form
EPSRC Applicant pack
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