Meet the CEO behind the future success of Norwich Research Park
- Credit: Chris Ball Photography
Roz Bird is CEO of Anglia Innovation Partnership LLP, the organisation that runs Norwich Research Park. Find out how her big ideas will benefit not just the local economy and community, but future generations and society at large.
Each month, those working at the pioneering heart of Norwich Research Park tell us how their work is shaping the world we live in. Read their stories here.
What does your role at Anglia Innovation Partnership entail?
Anglia Innovation Partnership LLP works in partnership with all of the institutions and businesses based at Norwich Research Park. That includes the Earlham Institute, Quadram Institute, John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the University of East Anglia (UEA).
Our role is not the science but the science park management.
Anglia Innovation Partnership is about place-making, community development, organising events, networking, marketing and attracting businesses. It’s the glue that brings everything on the Park together to create jobs, raise awareness and maximise the commercialisation of the research for society's benefit.
As chief executive, my role is to lead the team working on everything from assets and facilities management, development programmes, strategic marketing, communications, budgeting and finance, as well as our new enterprise strategy and environmental, social and governance strategy. I am passionate about careers, education and inspiring young people by raising awareness of all the jobs available at Norwich Research Park – from science and professional services to events, catering and recruitment.
What can you tell us about the enterprise strategy?
Launched at the beginning of May, the enterprise strategy is creating a pipeline of funding for researchers at the Park to market test their ideas and provide them with business advice from experts. They can apply for support to develop a business plan, funds for prototyping, and join a community of like-minded entrepreneurs at our networking events.
Once a company has been established, it can then apply for a seed fund we have set up with QUBIS, the commercialisation arm of Queen’s University, Belfast, who are leaders in their field. There are high-net-worth individuals in Norfolk that want to support start-up businesses in the area and we can help to attract and secure that private investment for companies on the Park.
Part of our campus has Enterprise Zone status, which helps to make it a more attractive place to base a business, and as we expand the campus by 800,000 sq ft there will be new high-value job opportunities in plant science, crop production and resilience, human health and the human microbiome.
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We aim to have a long-term social impact, which means communicating these opportunities to future generations. For an economic node of activity to thrive, you need to get young people who are at school today excited about local jobs. I want to find out how we can grow this place in a way that attracts great companies and homegrown talent – people that want to change the world.
What is unique about Norwich Research Park?
There are more than 100 science parks in the UK, but only five of them are campuses supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) – and of those five, Norwich Research Park is the only one in the country that has three BBSRC-funded research institutes on site. This allows our researchers to collaborate across distinct specialisms. We’ve also got the UEA – a top 20 university – which is keen to play its role, as well as the clinicians at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
We’re producing ingenious answers to important technological questions – and Norwich can comfortably compete with Cambridge in terms of world-class science and facilities. Researchers and the companies that are based at Norwich Research Park are working on UN Sustainable Development Goals, with real global impact. One of the ways to maximise that impact is by commercialising the research, which is one of my aims as CEO.
How did you end up working in Norwich?
I started working for the UK Science Park Association as business development manager in 2002 and my first job working for a science park was at Granta Park in Cambridge. I realised that science and research parks were real beacons of economic development that could inspire young people, support businesses and help individuals fulfil their dreams.
I got my degree in Estate Management at the University of Reading, became a qualified marketer through the Chartered Institute of Marketing and then became commercial director at MEPC, where I worked for 15 years, firstly at Granta Park with biotech companies like Pfizer and MedImmune, and then at Silverstone Park, where I worked with advanced engineering companies and helped to set up the Silverstone Technology Cluster, before coming to Norwich Research Park in May 2022.
Why did you decide to pursue this career?
I've always been interested in science, but it wasn’t my best subject at school! Growing up in Littleport and Ely, in Cambridgeshire, my parents used to take my sister and I shopping in Cambridge on a Saturday. I noticed Cambridge Science Park being built. It was a profound moment, as it gave me hope that there was a range of jobs out there. That experience made me realise how important it is to tell young people about the different careers available and inspire them to work hard and do their best.
I also remember realising that, as a teenager, compared to my friends, I really liked taking the lead, making decisions and taking responsibility. I realised this when I took part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Scheme. I was good at communicating and being organised, and these are all skills that I use today. I therefore try to encourage young people to try new things to help them to work out what they are good at.
What do you get up to when you are not working?
I love visiting the north Norfolk coast with my partner, our daughter and our dog. I've always tried to keep fit by going running, but I must confess I prefer the feeling afterwards to doing it!
I was born in Ely and the cathedral there is my favourite building in the world. I also love vising Norwich Cathedral and all the old churches in East Anglia.
It's a great privilege to be working here and as well as everything else I'm looking forward to getting more involved in looking at how Norwich Research Park can support and work with the communities across Norwich.
Roz Bird is CEO of Anglia Innovation Partnership LLP at Norwich Research Park. You can follow her on Twitter @RozMBird