UK Higher Education Technician Summit


This year, an additional digital conference, HETS Lite, will take place on 23rd June to address key topics and issues impacting the technical community along with sessions that facilitate the sharing of best practice across the sector. The summit will be a free online webinar dedicated to topics that the higher education and research technicians want to explore and discuss.

A new date is also announced for HETS 2021 - the UK’s fourth biennial event for higher education and research Technicians - which will take place on 10th November 2021 at the East Midlands Conference Centre, on the University of Nottingham’s main campus. 

Please refer to the press release here or our 'Events' page for exciting information on both of these events.

The History of HETS

In 2015 Midlands Innovation founded the UK Higher Education Technicians Summit, a national conference for technical staff working in higher education and research. Our 2017 event attracted over 500 delegates from over 60 organisations and in 2019 over 700 delegates from over 70 organisations.

HETS conference photoby Alex Wilkinson

This national event promotes a professional identity for technical staff in higher education and beyond, Midlands Innovation delivers it in partnership with the Science Council.

The conference is the largest event held specifically for UK and Ireland HE technical staff. Its sessions focus on professional development and networking opportunities with a range of “hot topics”. The conference also discusses broader issues around technical skills and education including the importance of technical skills in driving forward innovation, and current initiatives to ensure the future provision of technical education to young people.



In 2015, alongside the Higher Education Technician Summit, Midlands Innovation also established the Papin Prizes – a series of awards to publicly recognise technical excellence in academia.

The Papin Prizes are named after Denis Papin, a 17th century technician who worked with Robert Boyle. Papin invented the steam digester and was one of the first technicians to publish in his own name. The Papin Prizes recognise the invaluable role played by technicians in Higher Education. Their aim is:

  • To provide national recognition and reward for excellence in technical services within higher education
  • To raise the professional status of technicians in higher education

2019 Winners

 HETS conference and Papin Prize Award Winners. Photos by Alex Wilkinson Media (45 of 56)

  • Research: Lorenza Francescut, University of Leicester
  • Teaching: Amy Horne, Nottingham Trent University
  • Newcomer: Hannah Constantin, University of Nottingham
  • Core Research Facility: Steve Hindmarsh, University of Warwick
  • Infrastructure: Paul Gilbert, University of Liverpool
  • Outreach: Jane Thorning, University of Plymouth
  • Technical Team: School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University
  • Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, Lifetime Achievement Award: John Baum, Lancaster University

2017 Winners


  • Infrastructure - Hazel Smulders, University of Sussex
  • Research - Jennifer Haworth, University of Manchester
  • Teaching - Teresa Needham, University of Nottingham
  • Core Research Facility - Matthew MacKenzie, University of Birmingham
  • Newcomer - Jennifer Williams, University of Bath
  • Lifetime Achievement - John Andrews, University College London
  • Technical Team - University of Loughborough Textiles Technical Team

Outreach/Community - Callum Crane, Loughborough University

Callum Crane, Technician in the Department of Chemistry won the Outreach category for his work in organising Loughborough’s ‘3M – Science Detectives’ event, which saw over 100 children participating in CSI-style activities using scientific knowledge and skills to solve a mock crime. He commented: 

I am honoured to have won the prize but couldn’t have done it without the support of the technical team in the School of Science. It is fantastic to see the profile of Loughborough technicians, and the important contributions they make, becoming more visible.

2015 Winners

  • Community - Aziza Alibhai, University of Nottingham
  • Infrastructure - Robert Johnston, University of Warwick
  • Research - Lisa Storer, University of Nottingham
  • Teaching - Charlotte Bland, Aston University and the University of Warwick Satellite Team
  • Facility and Equipment Management - Michael Beard, University of Nottingham
  • Leadership - Carl Hingley, University of Birmingham
  • Lifetime Achievement - Victoria Wilson, University of Nottingham
  • Outreach - Neil Barnes, University of Nottingham
  • Working with Business - Val Street, University of Nottingham

Newcomer - Justyna Janus, University of Leicester#

Winner of the Newcomer Prize, Justyna is an Imaging Technician at the University of Leicester’s Preclinical Imaging Facility. She said: 

I was pleased to take part in the first Higher Education Technician Summit celebrating the achievements of technicians and even more delighted to receive the Newcomer Papin Prize Award. Being recognised for my work gives me satisfaction and encouragement to further develop my skills and see where my role as a technician can take me. I’d like to thank the event organisers and inspirational speakers, my colleagues in Core Biotechnology Services and all of the researchers at the University of Leicester who I have worked with so far.