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Vivienne Cox has been named first chairwoman of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, the U.K. national institute dedicated to bringing about transformative changes in life science through interdisciplinary research and technology development.
An experienced chairwoman and nonexecutive director in FTSE 100 companies, Cox has experience in creating and growing new businesses. She worked for BP PLC for 28 years, in posts that included executive vice president and chief executive of BP’s gas, power, and renewable business, as well as its alternative energy unit. She also has a deep understanding of government, having been the lead independent director of the U.K.’s Department for International Development for seven years.
“Collaboration across disciplines, as well as between academia and industry, is critical to successful innovation,” said Philip Nelson, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s executive chairman. “It is something the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, as part of U.K. Research and Innovation, strongly encourages. Dr. Vivienne Cox has an outstanding track record of leading multidisciplinary organizations, and I welcome her appointment to this role.”
During her 28-year career at BP, Cox was regularly listed in Fortune magazine’s “World’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business” list and won the Veuve Cliquot Business Woman of the Year award in 2007. She left BP in 2009 after leading its alternative energy business, which focused on wind, solar, biofuel, and carbon capture and storage technologies, as well as a venture technology unit.
“I have a passion for setting up new businesses and creating a culture of teamwork and collaboration,” Cox said. “I’ve seen how siloed some parts of science and corporate R&D can be and relish the chance to break that down and bring university research and industry closer together.”
Cox is currently a nonexecutive director of GSK; senior independent director of Pearson PLC; a nonexecutive director of Stena AB; and chairwoman of the supervisory board of Vallourec. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to the U.K.’s economy and sustainability.
“The industrial strategy is clear that the U.K. needs to focus on areas where it has great competitive advantage,” Cox said. “The exciting thing about the RFI is that it will harness our strengths in areas such as artificial intelligence and robotics to dramatically improve our understanding of biology, leading to new diagnostics, new drugs, and new treatments for millions of patients worldwide.”
The Rosalind Franklin Institute is an independent organization funded by the U.K. government through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and operated by 10 U.K. universities. It operates on a “hub and spokes” model, with a central hub at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, delivered by the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The hub, opening in 2020, will house a unique portfolio of scientific tools and researchers from both industry and academia. Equipment and researchers will also be located in spokes distributed throughout the partner network of universities.READ MORE