Sir Andrew Mackenzie, who is currently the company chair of Shell, has been selected as the favoured candidate to lead the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) agency. If his appointment is confirmed by the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, he will succeed Sir John Kingman, who is due to step down in September.
The UKRI is the country’s main body for publicly funding innovation and research, with a budget of £7.9 billion for the current financial year. If appointed, Mackenzie will be responsible for maintaining the country’s leadership in finding innovative solutions for addressing the great societal and industrial challenges that the world faces and helping British businesses to succeed.
In addition to Shell, Mackenzie has been the CEO of mining giant BHP and has worked in the research and finance divisions of oil company BP, which also makes the Castrol range of lubricant products. He is also an accomplished scientist, holding a PhD in Organic Chemistry and having published over 50 research papers.
In a statement, Mackenzie said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored our dependence on research and innovation, and the exceptional contribution the UK has made to solutions the world can embrace. Meanwhile we continue to address the enormous challenge of climate change which will define our generation and the world we leave for our children.”
The CEO also expressed his honour at being able to help direct the remarkable talent in the UK, whether it be in business, government, universities and other research bodies, or charities.