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June 15, 2021 | News

Grant Bourhill shares his vision on building our community

Grant Bourhill shares his vision on building our community

Our new CEO, Grant Bourhill has been with Surrey Research Park for just over a month. He is well underway meeting our extensive community within and connected to Surrey Research Park and is really enthused about the future, including strengthening business interactions and connectivity of businesses with the wider ecosystem, including with the University of Surrey.

What attracted you to your role at Surrey Research Park?

Firstly, the business environment within the Park. It isn’t just the fact that we have a beautifully landscaped 70-acre environment, with 31 buildings and approximately 170 companies whose output underpins 10% of the Guildford economy, it is also the flexibility of our offerings and the support mechanisms in place to help business growth.

Secondly, the breadth of innovation within the Park is impressive. I was particularly struck by the clusters of expertise in Space, Animal and Human Health, Cyber, the Environment and Digital. I was excited by the future growth and convergence of these areas and the opportunity to build even stronger links with academic and student talent in the University.

And finally, the opportunity for growth. Surrey Research Park has three undeveloped plots that we could develop in the near future.

What has surprised you the most since you joined?

I had appreciated that there was a lot to be positive about at Surrey Research Park, but I am pleased to see how in demand the Park is for companies wishing to relocate here particularly in this current climate. Also, since learning more about the Surrey Innovation Ecosystem, I am really impressed with the sheer volume and quality of ground-breaking innovative work. The University of Surrey academics, spin-outs and business partnership team, our incubation hub SETsquared and Student Enterprise and, of course, our businesses at Surrey Research Park are all part of the Ecosystem and are all contributing to the vibrant innovative culture that is ingrained here in Guildford.

How do you hope to add most value to our business community?

As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, the most important thing that I can do is firstly engage with companies to understand the environment that will add the most value to them in a post-covid, post-Brexit world. Secondly, I want to strengthen even further interactions and connectivity within our business community and between our business community and the wider ecosystem. The most important thing I can add is effective connectivity.

How will you help build synergies between businesses on the Park?

While we have a number of sectoral clusters within the Park, such as Animal Health or the Environment, I think it is crucial for innovation that we don’t focus on only developing those sectors but rather we create opportunities for knowledge exchange that can happen across as broad an audience as possible. I would love to see the convergence of two areas that I did not see coming! We can take simple steps such as make it easier for businesses to identify who else is on the Park. However, we need to go further by working with businesses to create a series of networking events, for example, that will add value to the broad business community.

How will you engage with the 170 tenant businesses?

I have enjoyed meeting a significant number of companies to date, from large corporates through to newly established ventures. That being said, I want to establish more regular, systematic touch points to build engagement and we will communicate further about that very shortly. Surrey Research Park is here to enable business growth and we have been doing this very well over the years, but we have no intention to rest on our laurels.

The working environment has of course shifted not only because of the pandemic but because change is the natural order of things. Our plans will be guided by what businesses are doing and what they would like us to offer now.

Outside of the more regular touch points, my door is always open. I would like to hear from our business community about what has worked for them to date, what hasn’t and any improvements we can make that would help support them even further.

To arrange a discussion with Grant please email g.bourhill@surrey.ac.uk

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