New ESRC Executive Chair announced

Stian Westlake headshot

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan has selected Mr Stian Westlake as the next Executive Chair of ESRC.

Mr Westlake is currently Chief Executive of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) and is former Executive Director of Policy and Research at Nesta.

Mr Westlake’s research interests include the economics and politics of innovation, research and technology. He is co-author of ‘Restarting the Future: How to Fix the Intangible Economy’ and ‘Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy’.

He has been responsible for a number of projects relating to data and evidence, including the RSS’s COVID-19 Task Force, the Alliance for Useful Evidence, the Innovation Growth Lab and the Innovation Index.

He is a regular commentator on science and innovation policy and has served as adviser to three UK science ministers.

Leading the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Mr Westlake said:

It is a great honour to be selected as the next Executive Chair of ESRC. I firmly believe that rigorous, engaged social science holds the answer to our most pressing challenges – and can change the world for the better.

I look forward to working with the research community, with users of research, and with the public to help social science thrive and make its benefits felt widely.

ESRC, part of UK Research and Innovation, plays a vital role in supporting independent, high-quality research that strengthens both business productivity and public policy development.

Leading ESRC’s work, Mr Westlake will be responsible for ensuring world-leading UK social science directly addresses key societal issues from the cost of living to climate change.

A wealth of experience

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said:

In a rapidly changing world, the role of economic and social science has never been more important in helping us seize the opportunities and navigate the challenges we face.

Stian will bring a wealth of experience to the role, combined with an impressive track record of ensuring high-quality social and data science is placed at the heart of decision making.

His leadership of, and broad engagement with the research, innovation, business and policymaking communities across the UK will be a huge asset in realising UK Research and Innovation’s mission.

Executive Chair of ESRC

Mr Westlake is expected to take up the ESRC role in late spring. He succeeds Professor Alison Park who has led the organisation on an interim basis.

Top image:  Stian Westlake, credit: Stian Westlake

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