Research England is led by David Sweeney, the Executive Chair. David chairs the Research England Council and provides leadership and oversight of Research England’s strategy and functions.
Previously director of research and knowledge exchange at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, David was appointed as Executive Chair designate of Research England in early 2017, and took a lead role in shaping the new Council and leading the transition of responsibilities from HEFCE into Research England.
After gaining First Class Honours in Statistics at the University of Aberdeen, David worked at two BBSRC research institutes, as a consultant statistician beforedeveloping mathematical models of plant growth. His work on the computational aspects of this led into broader applications of IT in education and research, and he was Director of Information Services at Royal Holloway, University of London, before moving into university leadership as Vice-Principal (Communications, Enterprise and Research) in 2004. In this role he was responsible for research strategy and for developing Royal Holloway’s research-led commercial and consultancy activities.
He joined HEFCE in 2008 as Director (Research, Innovation and Skills) and led the development and implementation of the first Research Excellence Framework including the new impact agenda element. He was responsible for research policy and funding, knowledge exchange and university/business relations.
In May 2017 he was appointed the first Executive Chair of Research England, a new council established as part of UK Research and Innovation, alongside the seven disciplinary Research Councils and the UK Innovation Agency. Research England is biggest research funder in the UK with responsibility for university block-grant funding for research and knowledge exchange. In UKRI he has particular responsibilities for Place (Regional Funding), Commercialisation and Open Science.
David has been invited to visit many countries to advise on research assessment and funding, particularly with respect to research impact. He is also co-chair of the Implementation Task Force for Plan S, the international initiative on full and immediate open access to research publications.
David was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in 2012, was Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Newcastle, NSW in 2015 and is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.