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Director of Sussex Innovation Centre receives Queen’s Award
The Executive Director of the Sussex Innovation Centre, a business-incubation hub at the University of Sussex, has been recognised in the annual Queen’s Awards for his efforts to promote regional businesses.
Mike Herd, who has been responsible for strategic development at the Innovation Centre since 1997, is one of just eight individuals in the UK to receive a Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion, which rewards significant contributions to encouraging entrepreneurship.
He will receive an engraved crystal chalice and has been invited to a royal reception at Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s Awards are made by HM Queen Elizabeth II each year on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The Sussex Innovation Centre was conceived as the flagship development of the ‘Sussex Academic Corridor’, a collaboration between public, academic and business sectors.
Based at the Falmer campus of the University of Sussex, it offers flexible, professional office space and a range of in-house support services to assist start-up businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and university spin-outs during the vital early years of their operation.
From an initial public investment of under £2million, the Centre has provided a significant boost to the local economy over the past 16 years, with member companies attracting more than £25million of investment and generating well over £500million of cumulative revenue.
Since 1997 Mr Herd has supported the growth of more than 300 businesses and has overseen the expansion of the Centre to more than double its original size.
Mr Herd’s method of entrepreneurial mentoring is focused on providing support that is tailored to each individual company’s needs and ambitions, founded in extensive market research and ‘finding the first customer’.
This approach is reflected throughout the Centre’s professional support structure and, under Mr Herd’s guidance, it has seen the vast majority of its members grow into successful, profitable and sustainable businesses. The Centre has frequently been cited as an example of best practice for business incubation.
More recently the Innovation Centre has taken a direct role in the commercialisation of research at the University of Sussex, with a notable success in the joint development of electric potential sensor (EPS) technology with Plessey Semiconductors – resulting in an award-winning sensor, a hand-held electrocardiogram device.
Mr Herd said: “It’s a tremendous honour to receive this award.
“During my 16 years here, I have seen countless extraordinarily smart and talented individuals come through our doors, and it is a source of great professional pride to me that we have been able to help so many of them on their journey towards richly deserved success.
“I have found it particularly rewarding to help academic staff and students from the University of Sussex take their first steps into the world of business.
“I have no intention of resting on my laurels – there is still so much more that we can do to nurture entrepreneurial talent in Brighton and beyond. I am as determined as ever to help uncover the next great innovation that will drive us on to even bigger and better things.”
Now wholly owned by the University of Sussex, the Centre is home to more than 100 member companies, spanning a range of sectors from engineering and biomedical research to new media, design and IT.