Dr Sally Basker, CEO Exeter Science Park

Dr Sally Basker was appointed Chief Executive Office of Exeter Science Park in April 2017.  She is a qualified engineer with 15 year’s senior level research and innovation experience in the aerospace, defence, energy, and navigation sectors over her 25-year career. She has been responsible for crafting business cases, attracting funds and procuring multimillion-pound research facilities, as well as creating and implementing growth and diversification strategies for high-value technology products and services.

Dr Basker has extensive international experience working with decision makers in the European Union, USA, Russia, the Far East, and South Africa. Recent roles have included leading business development for a new, private-sector, space-based service in South Africa and Head of Business Development at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, where she established and incubated five technology special business units.

Having recently completed an MBA, Dr Basker has also led and delivered a number of successful projects for organisations such as the General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN), Traxis Ltd, and Helios Technology Ltd.

In Dr Basker’s first month in post, Insight posed a few questions…

What are your priorities now that you are in post?

My immediate priorities include developing a growth strategy for the Park; building and letting nearly 50,000 square feet of top-quality space for STEM-based businesses, maximising opportunities from the new Enterprise Zone, and increasing our engagement and impact across the region.

Although high-profile new buildings and highly-successful tenants may be the headline story, Exeter Science Park needs to be much more than this. The Science Park needs to engage with STEM-based companies across the region and I want the Science Park to become a ‘watering hole’ where companies come to network, to learn, and to collaborate.

If you could have one dream client who would it be?

My dream client would be one of those mythical unicorns – a start-up valued at over $1 billion like Uber, Dropbox, or Pinterest. It would challenge ‘business as usual’ not least in terms of ambition, growth, employability, funding, and business accommodation. It would place the spotlight on Exeter Science Park and the wider region as a great place for business and would inevitably drive growth. I hope we will recognise a potential unicorn when we meet it and look forward to helping it achieve its potential.

How will the further development of the Science Park affect Exeter?

Further development of the Science Park has clear benefits for Exeter and the region in terms of attracting and growing STEM-based businesses and enhancing productivity. The links between businesses and the knowledge base at the University of Exeter and elsewhere should help to drive a creative and innovative science-based economy, in tune with the ethos of the region. Service businesses, such as accountants and lawyers, will inevitably develop new products and services to support their growth. All of this means a wide range of job opportunities for students and graduates from the University and the Further Education colleges. I can see the new degree-apprenticeship scheme being hugely attractive.

What is your vision for the Science Park, five years from now?

The next five years is going to be interesting given the imminent BREXIT negotiations and we will need to set our sails to take advantage of opportunities and manoeuvre swiftly to minimise risks. I am hoping that the cluster within the Science Park Centre and the Global Environmental Futures cluster will be largely complete and that there will be a vibrant and collaborative community based around these. It would be great to have a hotel under construction at this strategic location. I also hope that a third cluster will be well under way and that private sector developers will have started to appreciate the opportunities from investing at the Science Park.

I would like to see STEM-based businesses across the region becoming frequent visitors benefiting from enhanced networking, collaboration opportunities, and continuous professional development.

Back to article list