Dr. Peter Dirken

Programme Manager - Global Innovation Missions & Lead for Australia, New Zealand & the Netherlands at Innovate UK (part of UK Research & Innovation)

I have always been interested in all things science and innovation. From a degree in Geochemistry to a Ph.D. in NMR spectroscopy to working for some of the UK’s most successful engineering companies, and now the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, science and innovation has always been at the heart of what I do. At home I read up on human genetics or the origins of the cosmos…. It is the application of science and the impact on the UK economy and our society and environment though, not just science for the sake of science, that has driven my career. I was responsible for the product development portfolio of one of Johnson Matthey’s operating businesses in Germany, working out of JM’s R&D centre near Oxford. I left to manage a large portfolio of Ultra Low Temperature research instrument projects for Oxford Instruments and saw first-hand how one area of science (cryogenics) was being applied to grow one of the most amazing and successful UK technology companies. I then spent four years working in an engineering role at JET in Culham, still the world’s largest nuclear fusion facility. This largely private sector technology and innovation background was a perfect basis for a career with Innovate UK, the government backed agency in the UK tasked with supporting businesses innovation. I managed the Knowledge Transfer Network programme for a number of years. I am now part of the Global Team in Innovate UK and manage Innovate UK’s Global Missions Programme, which helps UK businesses across sectors to connect with the best of global innovation. As part of this programme, Innovate UK takes innovative UK SMEs overseas to deliver bespoke programmes with international partners to create innovation partnerships that work for both countries. I am also responsible for maintaining and growing our innovation partnerships with Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands (my country of birth).


Thursday 18th November


Connecting UK businesses to innovation globally – Innovate UK