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Meet the Midlands Innovation Team

Founded in 2015, as a strategic collaborative partnership between the Midlands top eight most-research intensive universities, Midlands Innovation is run by a small core team.

The team, lead by Director Dr Helen Turner, work to support new and existing research collaborations reporting to a Board, which comprises of the eight Vice-Chancellors of the MI partners and an Executive Management Group whose membership is normally the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research within each partner institution.

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) was founded with £60m of funding from Innovate UK. This leveraged an additional £120m funding from the private sector and ERA’s partners, which include the eight Midlands Innovation universities, along with the British Geological Survey. ERA has invested this into 23 cutting edge facilities and demonstration facilities across the Midlands, as well as supporting a skills development programme for PhD students.

Why does a regional partnership, such as MI, matter?
The current government has put a strong emphasis on the importance of places.  We see this strongly in the narrative around levelling up.  The government’s R&D roadmap included a section on place and we expect later this year for it to publish its R&D Place Strategy.  There are clear disparities in terms of the levels of public investment in R&D across the country and the recent report “The Missing £4bn: Making R&D work for the whole of the UK” indicated that the Midlands would require £1.4bn/p.a. of extra investment in order to “level up” public sector R&D investment.   UKRI is working to identify its role in funding places and now has the Strength in Places Fund as a vehicle through which it can make place-based investments.  Midlands Innovation is a forum for its members to explore collaborations that are focused on place and on the Midlands region in which we are all located.  It also provides a mechanism to have a collaborative, place-focused dialogue with government and research funders about place-based funding and the Midlands.    

Where can I learn more about MI and ERA?
You can learn more about Midlands Innovation and the programmes and activities that we’re delivering through our website: midlandsinnovation.org.uk, where there is also a specific Frequency Asked Questions page about Midlands Innovation and our programmes, which you can visit directly here. You can also visit ERA's dedicated website here: era.ac.uk 

You can also keep-up-date with us by following Midlands Innovation on twitter @InnovationMids or on our Linkedin.page or ERA via @energyra or on LinkedIn.

How can I contact the MI and ERA teams?
You can contact Midlands Innovation by emailing info@midlandsinnovation.org.uk or ERA via: enquiries@era.ac.uk 

Meet the MI team:

Dr Helen Turner

ERA team Portraits. Photos by Alex Wilkinson Media-13


MI Director

Helen's role is to oversee the Midlands Innovation partnership and its portfolio of collaborative projects. She has responsibility for growing that portfolio and strengthening the relationships Midlands Innovation has with key stakeholders.

Sue Clayton


MI Deputy Director

Sue’s role is to develop and conduct activity that enhances the Midlands Innovation partnership across its multiple research themes.  She has responsibility for influencing the available resources to meet current and future strategic objectives.

Ellen McGhee

ERA team Portraits. Photos by Alex Wilkinson Media-6

MI Executive Assistant

Ellen is the Executive Assistant to the Midlands Innovation Director and also provides support to the Midlands Innovation team.

Sarah Alton

ERA team Portraits. Photos by Alex Wilkinson Media-1

MI Public Affairs Manager

Sarah’s role is to lead public affairs activities across the partnership and to develop and maintain relations between Midlands Innovation and its key stakeholders.

Alex Archibald


MI Health Project Manager

Alex's role is to manage our MI Health partnership and coordinate large collaborative projects from inception through to funding award in the areas related to health and life sciences.

Sarah Howells

 Sarah H small

MI Marketing and Communications Manager

Sarah’s role is to market, communicate and manage the PR for Midlands Innovation, as well as acting as the marketing manager specifically for MI’s TALENT Programme.

Meet the ERA team:

Professor Martin Freer


Director of ERA

As Director of the Energy Research Accelerator, Martin sets the strategic direction of ERA, leads the ERA team, Chairs the ERA Research Committee and manages the relationship between ERA and key stakeholders both regionally and nationally.

Faye McAnulla


Programme Director of ERA

Faye manages the various initiatives and activities of the ERA programme. Faye brings together the ERA partners with businesses, and public sector representatives to develop large scale collaborative proposals to support energy innovation, and provides expert advice and support to bodies such as the Midlands Engine.

Nick King


ERA Marketing and Communications Manager

Nick is the Marketing Manager for ERA and is responsible for promoting ERA’s work through social media, press and other channels, as well as managing the website and developing promotional materials. He also plans, develops and manages events and conferences for ERA.

Lennie Foster


ERA Skills Manager

Lennie Foster is responsible for leading the development of Phase 2 of the ERA Learning Academy, growing the talent pipeline in Energy Research, to include doctoral and post-doctoral researchers and beyond.

James Blay


ERA Projects Officer

James is responsible for managing and supporting various projects for ERA and also supports our online webinar activities and website.