/ Key Initiatives / Innovation / Lancashire Innovation Board

The Lancashire Innovation Board brings together a range of private and public sector partners to provide the strategic leadership and accountability for the LEP’s Innovation Plan and its delivery. Championing and challenging interventions to deliver greater levels of innovation for the county.

The Board

Professor Graham Baldwin – Chair

Industry/ Sector – University

Graham is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire having previously been the Vice-Chancellor of Solent University, Southampton for five years. Prior to joining Solent, he also worked at the University of Central Lancashire in a number of senior-management roles, culminating in the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor. He also had a mid-career secondment into the nuclear industry where he worked as the National Skills Research Director for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

He is Chair of The Maritime Skills Commission, Deputy Chair of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), the Treasurer of Million Plus, the Association for Modern Universities, and sits on the Board of the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. He has extensive Board experience and sat as a member of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership as well as previously chairing the Board of Kendal College and the boards of various charities and companies with a range of functions from a dental clinic to scientific consulting.

He has a First Degree in Sport Studies from the Madeley School of Physical Education, a Master’s Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough University and a Doctorate in Exercise Physiology from the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Wales, Bangor. He is a qualified teacher of Physical Education with a PGCE from the University of Wales.

He is an Honorary Professor at Hebei University and a Visiting Professor at the National Academy of Education Administration in Beijing. In 2014 Hebei Province, China conferred on him the title of ‘Outstanding Foreign Expert’.


Claire Whelan – Deputy Chair

Industry/ Sector – Manufacturing: Aerospace, Automotive, Defence

After preliminarily training in law, Claire decided to follow a finance career in industry. Progressing to Finance Director at BCW, she navigated fast growth from £5 to £30m turnover. Her key skills involved dealing with both the challenges/opportunities for growth with strategic business planning. Claire built good relationships with external stakeholders such as financial bodies, local authorities, and grant providers; evidenced by BCWs good track record of investment and people development.

In 2019 Claire became the Managing Director of BCW Manufacturing Group looking after the growing £30m+ portfolio and employing circa 250 people. The manufacturing group supplies machined, treated and assembled components into many UK OEM’s spanning industry sectors such as Aerospace and Automotive.

2020 saw Claire take over the Group Managing Director role in the parent company, ANSUKA.

The ANSUKA Group is a collection of progressive and innovative companies in the manufacturing sector, delivering a first-class service to global primes. The group now turns over £45m and its total facilities cover over 250,000 sq ft of manufacturing space from its base in Burnley.

Companies she now directs include: BCW Manufacturing Group- First Tier production machining & Treatment services API Design & Build- Tool Design and build services, Long bed machining DEM Robotics & Automation- Innovative solutions, robotics, and automation provider Greener Industrial Services- including Track Machine Tools & LPK Facilities Management asset and facilities management companies including COVID-19 response cleaning requirements

As well as being a Director of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership she is a council member of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

Dr Rick Holland – UKRI Rep

Industry/ Sector – Government agency for funding and other support for business-led innovation

Dr Holland helps to create an enhanced environment for R&D, innovation investment and economic and societal impact in North West England. He does this while working in the strategy directorate of Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, at the heart of the government’s Industrial Strategy. His network of research and innovation enablers includes the LEPs and Mayoral Combined Authorities, Local Government, universities, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Catapult Centres, Knowledge Transfer Network, European Enterprise Network, and business growth hubs among others. Prior to 2012, Dr Holland was a specialist sustainability consultant in the construction industry advising developers and contractors on the business case and opportunities to improve the clean growth of construction projects.

Dion Williams – University Rep

Industry/ Sector – Higher Education

Dion joined Lancaster University in 1998 to begin the University’s regional business engagement activities. Prior to this he worked at Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and ran his own successful travel business. He became the University’s Director of Research, Enterprise and Innovation in 2017 and was recently appointed as the Lancaster’s first cross-institutional Associate Dean for Enterprise and Engagement.

He currently oversees a £100m+ portfolio of research, business and public sector engagement across a local, regional, national and international dimension, that positions Lancaster as a nationally and internationally leading research-intensive university and as a pivotal anchor institution driving growth across the Northwest. Dion has extensive expertise in working with the University’s external stakeholders including funding bodies, Government agencies, regional Local Enterprise Partnerships, Higher and Further Education partners, corporate businesses and SMEs.

He was a founding Director of Lancaster’s award winning Centre for Global Eco-Innovation and the Lancaster China Catalyst Programme, led on securing the funding for Lancaster’s Health Innovation Campus, sits on the Eden North project Board and also led two recent Science and Innovation Audits focused on Advanced Manufacturing and Industrie 4.0 and on Clean and Sustainable Growth.

Natalie Jones- Research & Science Rep

Industry/ Sector – Research funder/Public sector

Natalie Jones is Head of Regional Engagement with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Previously she worked for the Economic and Social Research Council with responsibility for building its portfolio of a multi-disciplinary productivity research.

She was also responsible for managing novel knowledge exchange and data investments including What Works Scotland, the Social Science Section at the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology and the Administrative Data Research Network. Natalie has worked extensively in the local government sector in planning, local economic development and corporate research roles.

Natalie has a PhD in Management Studies from Bangor University, where she completed a study of employee engagement in the public sector in Wales. Natalie is a member of British Academy of Management.

Jane Binnion- Start up/Micro/SME Rep

Industry/ Sector – Education & training

Youth and community worker for 20+ years Birmingham and Blackpool. District young women’s worker- LCC Women’s Self Defence programme, founder and coordinator -LCC Education Welfare Officer Advocate – Hindley YOI Founder, Jane Binnion.com social media and ethical sales trainer -2010 Founder and business trainer, The Growing Club CIC – 2016 EMBA Lancaster University graduated 2019

Lorna Green – Health & Life Sciences

Industry/ Sector – Health & Life Science

Director of Enterprise and Growth at the Innovation Agency; having served as commercial director since 2014 and Chief Operating Officer from 2017.

After starting her career as a state registered dietitian in the NHS, Lorna has also worked in a variety of private sector senior management roles in sales, marketing and business development, and at board level in clinical nutrition and medical technology companies.

After 10 years in sales, marketing and business development with small, medium and large healthcare companies, Lorna joined a venture capital firm, Merseyside Special Investment Fund, as healthcare business consultant and went on to work as a self-employed consultant working with SMEs to shape business plans and secure venture capital investment to commercialise innovations.

Prior to joining the Innovation Agency Lorna was involved in launching over 40 new healthcare products and technologies both in the UK and internationally and since joining supported many businesses to secure funding and commercialise innovation. Lorna is a member of the following: • NHS Innovation Accelerator Operational Board • SBRI Health Strategic Advisory Board • Northern Health Science Alliance Council • Innovation Board and Health and Life Science Board for Liverpool City Region LEP • Knowledge Transfer Network Medical Technology (KTN) Advisory Board • STFC HealthTec Cluster Steering Board • Innovation Board for Lancashire LEP

Lindsay Roche – Energy & Environment

Industry/ Sector – Energy and Nuclear

Lindsay is responsible for engaging with UK Government and other key stakeholders at national and regional level to support the company’s UK operations and growth ambitions including establishing the Clean Energy Technology Park at Springfields in Lancashire. She is also supporting the delivery of the Nuclear Sector Deal agreed between UK Government and the broader nuclear industry to ensure the UK delivers against specific targets relating to research and development, new build cost reduction and winning UK business. Lindsay is a Chartered Engineer with over 28 years experience in the nuclear sector in a variety of roles including management of fuel manufacturing operations and business development in the UK and overseas. Prior to her current role, Lindsay supported the acquisition of a nuclear new build development company and became the Westinghouse Supply Chain Director for nuclear new build projects in the UK. Lindsay holds an Honours Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Sheffield and an MBA from Lancaster University. • Lindsay is a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and sits on the Programme Board of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. She is a Department for International Trade Northern Powerhouse Investment Champion and an Executive Committee member for Women in Nuclear UK.


Pete Lee – Manufacturing & Construction

Industry/ Sector – Chemicals (Polymers)

Pete’s career has included a wide range of operational leadership roles (in R&D, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, Quality, Procurement and Continuous Improvement) in a broad range of industries (Pharma, Abrasives, Respirators, Diagnostics, Cosmetics, Medical Devices and Chemicals). In this time,  Pete has had three employers: Unilever, 3M and Victrex.

Pete holds a degree in Chemistry, which was followed by a Royal Society Fellowship Postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Germany. After which he joined Unilever Research at Port Sunlight as a Research Manager, before moving to Unipath in Bedfordshire where Unilever developed and manufactured the ClearBlue pregnancy test. In 2002, Pete began his 10 years with 3M in which he worked at four different 3M sites and in four different divisions of 3M. This included gaining Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification, leading manufacturing operations in Pharmaceuticals and Abrasives and finished with the site manager position at 3M’s Bridgend site.

At the beginning of 2012, Pete joined Victrex plc as the Operations Director for their medical devices division (Invibio), before taking on the Global Supply Chain Director role for Victrex and more recently heading up Quality and Continuous Improvement.


Gaynor Dykes – Professional & Services

Industry/ Sector – Professional Services

Currently working for Grant Thornton LLP – Growth Finance Regional Lead for North & Midlands, Corporate Finance. Gaynor is responsible for the delivery of the firm’s Growth Finance service which assists growing and innovative companies to raise external debt and equity finance of up to £10m

Previous to this Gaynor was Head of Access to Finance NW, GM & Business Link NW. Developed and launched a new ERDF match funded business support project focussed on ensuring access to finance for SMEs throughout the NW.

Business Advisor -Greater Merseyside Enterprise Ltd

Corporate Banking Manager – Yorkshire Bank PLC


Jane Dalton – Strategy & Branding

Industry/ Sector – Management consultancy / qualitative market research/ Cross-sector experience spanning: Tertiary education; Manufacturing; Financial Services; Public Sector

Having attained a first-class MBA from Cambridge University, Jane Dalton has managed brand strategy and innovation projects for companies with global brand reach – from Unilever teams through to high-street banks across Europe – for the past 20 years.

Her experience covers strategic planning, market opportunity exploration, value proposition development, qualitative and quantitative market research and brand management. As part of the Groundswell Innovation team, Jane is regularly involved in strategic innovation projects spanning academic, private and public sectors.

In 2008, Jane set up Groundswell Innovation as an independent agency specialising in the commercialisation and generation of new ideas with Visa Europe as their first client, having worked as a consultant and senior consultant at The Value Engineers (Cello Group). Groundswell Innovation was re-located from Buckinghamshire to Lancashire in 2013, because of the quality of life and excellent educational system that Lancashire provides.

Since returning to her home county, Jane has worked as a Lancashire Board member for the Institute of Directors and continues to be an Entrepreneur in Residence at Lancaster University and volunteer Brand Director for Northern Power Women, a not-for-profit campaign encouraging gender diversity in the workplace from the North of England.



Read next Transport