• About us

    Founded originally in 1962, the R&D Society is the UK’s leading independent think tank on the commercialisation of R&D

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    We make evidence-based recommendations for the commercialisation of science and technology, which help policymakers and businesses understand the impact that their policy and innovation decisions have on the UK’s economic growth.

    The government has repeatedly championed Britain as a “science and technology superpower”, rightly highlighting our universities’ world-leading artificial intelligence and life sciences research.
    But such research can improve lives, deliver value to our society and strengthen our economy ONLY if it is commercialised and applied in the real world.

    Read more on the  R&D Society Vision & Mission.


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    UK & International Context

    The UK needs to react urgently to a number of international initiatives:

    1) US Inflation Reduction Act

    2) European Green Deal

    3) UK leaving the EU (Brexit), and the consequent need for

    a. Post-Brexit trade deals

    b. Research funding for UK universities

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    Partnership with Triple Chasm

    The R&D Society and Triple Chasm https://www.thetriplechasm.com/ share the same goals of improving the translation of ideas into commercial, social and environmental impact. The research collaboration is focused on generating practical insights for
    innovative high-growth companies, enabling them to better focus their efforts. The collaboration also sees to utilise the data collected to understand the meso economic factors that underpin and effective innovation ecosystem.



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    The mission of the R&D Society is to promote integrated thinking where commercialisation policy/strategy is coupled with resource allocation and intervention management.


    This will be done by reviewing and analysing the commercialisation of R&D within the UK through 3 lenses in collaboration with Triple Chasm:

    1) Maturity of the sector, technology and R&D commercialisation initiatives. In particular, we will focus on those sectors/technologies where the UK has a strong position and growth potential.

    2) Engagement in and integration of the key factors (meso-economic vectors) involved in R&D commercialisation.

    3) Progress towards and impact on the environmental sustainability of the sector.

    Through public events, round-table meetings and canvassing of opinion from key stakeholders, we seek to understand and influence the key factors that drive the commercialisation of R&D in the UK, maximising its contribution to UK economic and social wealth.


    To fulfil its mission and achieve its objectives, the Society does the following:

    1. Runs high profile events with attendance from R&D commercialisation leaders in industry, academia, finance and government
    2. Provides input into policy relating to the commercialisation of R&D and a stable UK Industrial Strategy


    The Research and Development Society is a company limited by guarantee



    President Sir Richard Sykes
    Chair Iain Simpson
    David Hughes, Business Innovation Group
    Colin Whitehouse
    Nico Macdonald, London South Bank University
    Uday Phadke, Cartezia
    Tony Hart


    Legal and administrative

    The Research and Development Society is a company limited by guarantee
  • Who’s involved in the Society

    Our Board, Chair, President and Team
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    Iain Simpson


    Iain is currently chair of the Society, a role he also held from 2008–2010. Prior to that he has held various roles within the Society, including developing a special interest group in benchmarking and best practice and being a Board member for the past 15 years.


    Iain has a 30-year track record of multidisciplinary technology and product development, including business development, project management and technology assessment in US and European markets – with a strong emphasis on medical devices and bioinstrumentation. His careers has included roles at THORN EMI, as well as several leading technology consultancies in the Cambridge Cluster. He currently works for Ixico, a London-based company focussed on developing technologies to support clinical research and clinical practice mainly in the fields of brain health and neurology.


    Iain has written and presented papers on a range of topics particularly relating to the pharmaceutical industry but also covering technology licensing and product development. He has also chaired sessions at several international conferences and presented on the UK R&D environment. He also lectures on drug delivery to the Cambridge University Masters in Bioscience course.


    Iain graduated from University College London with a first class honours degree in physics and a PhD in experimental solid state physics. He also has an MBA in Technology Management from the Open University.

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    David Hughes

    Team Member

    David is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and holds an MSc in Engineering and an Honorary Doctor of Technology, Loughborough University. He is a Chartered Director (IoD) and currently works with three management consultancies advising companies on innovation strategy. This has included product development projects in large companies through to working with SMEs on manufacturing strategy and business plan development.


    David has also worked on strategic development projects with City and Brunel Universities and chaired advisory Boards at City and Nottingham Universities. In 2006, David completed a four-year term with the DTI (BIS) as lead Government official developing and implementing Government policy on innovation. He was responsible for creating and establishing the widely acclaimed Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK).


    Prior to this appointment, twenty years executive level management experience with major global businesses – Ford, Lucas, GEC-Marconi and BAEsystems. Experienced manager of multinational project teams and change leader and an approved Cabinet Office project assurance reviewer.

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    Dr Uday Phadke

    Team Member

    Dr Uday Phadke read Engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge and then went on to do a PhD in Aero-thermodynamics at the University of Sussex. He has worked in a wide range of academic, technical, commercial and strategic roles in Europe, North America and Asia over the last three decades.


    He has a wide and deep technical background in a number of technology areas, including aerospace engineering, digital signal processing, remote sensing, electronics, computing & software, medical diagnostics, engineering design, media and telecommunications, financial technologies and digital media.


    He has been actively involved in the building of over 100 technology firms over the last two decades, as an advisor, mentor and investor, working closely with technology transfer offices, innovation agencies, incubators and accelerators. He has also been part of the founding team at a number of technology advisory and consulting companies since the early 1980s. Since 1997 he has been Chief Executive of Cartezia, the technology business builder based in Cambridge, UK.


    He was Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge from 2011 to 2016 and is now actively involved in several innovation policy development initiatives in Europe and Asia. His new book on science and technology commercialisation, Camels, Tigers and Unicorns, was published in early 2017.

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    Nico Macdonald

    Team Member

    Nico Macdonald is the former chief executive of the Research & Development Society and co-author of BIG POTATOES: The London Manifesto for Innovation.


    He is currently leading research and debate in the new area of Progress Studies, and teaching Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Previously he was Head of Innovation at the Creative Industries iNet.


    He has written extensively on design and creativity for publications including the BBC News Online, the Guardian newspaper, the RSA journal, Eye magazine, Blueprint, Building Design, and Creative Review.


    He was an early promoter of creative and design engagement with the Web, and is author of 'What is Web Design?' (RotoVision, 2003). Read on at spy.co.uk

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    Tony Hart

    Team Member

    Tony Hart read Engineering Science & Economics at Oxford University followed by an MBA at Henley Management College. He worked for leading ICT corporates in the UK and US, Digital Equipment Corporation, Research Machines PLC, Intel Corporation and Cisco Systems, focusing on Business Development, Sales and Marketing in the SME networking, videoconferencing and IPTV sectors across the UK and Europe.


    Since 2005 he has worked as a consultant and interim Business Development Director for a wide range of technology companies in sectors as diverse as education, internet TV, social enterprise and sustainability, building on close links with academia and the digital technology sector across the UK. He worked with Cartezia/Accelerator India to develop business opportunities in India for UK media, telecom and space companies, and built collaborations with key Indian companies, investors and incubators.


    He set up the UK subsidiary of Holley Technology, the largest supplier of electricity meters to China State Grid (77M smart meters), for the rollout of SMETS2 meters to energy suppliers across the UK. He went on to be the Head of Smart Oxford, working with public and private sector organisations to develop Oxford as a smart city, building an ecosystem to support businesses across the region.


    Tony’s passion is to work with early-stage technology companies, coaching, mentoring and helping them to commercialise their innovations and bring them to market.