The new leader of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s pioneering £30 million advanced materials facility is looking to capitalise on the region’s historical expertise in steel and ceramics to create a centre for scientific breakthrough.
Dr Cathryn Hickey has been appointed chief executive of The Applied Materials Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Company (AMRICC), which is being launched in Stoke-on-Trent next month to form a cornerstone of the region’s new Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone.
Announced by Government last year, the enterprise zone – led by the city council and the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership – will build on the area’s unique heritage to accelerate diversification into technical ceramics and other advanced materials.
With a strong background in science, education and business, Dr Hickey will oversee the development of AMRICC into a world-class centre where advanced materials and processes are rapidly and economically developed into commercial products.
Comprising of a research laboratory, pilot plant and educational facility, AMRICC will provide an environment which joins together scientific success with the business acumen needed to make innovation a commercial reality.
Dr Hickey said: “AMRICC will play a significant role in the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone, providing an international facility which translates materials, processes and technologies into real world products through the commercialisation of innovative ideas.
“It will offer an opportunity for inward investment, champion innovation and build a pipeline of talented people to lead and commercialise scientific breakthroughs by attracting students from across the globe.
“This is a hugely exciting opportunity and, from a personal perspective, I am delighted to be coming from a scientific background into the role of chief executive.”
An accomplished executive director, Dr Hickey brings a wealth of experience from business and industry to the role.
She started her career in the oil industry, originally with ESSO and then Shell UK, after achieving a First Class degree in Chemistry and a PhD in Organometallic Chemistry from the University of Sheffield.
With expertise in delivering complex programmes within the public sector and multi-national organisations, Dr Hickey’s previous work has included setting up a National Skills Academy from scratch and strategic roles with LearnDirect and SummitSkills.
Dr Hickey takes on the role of chief executive of AMRICC after two years as project director in which she helped to set up the company. She also sits on the board of Staffordshire University.
AMRICC is being set up with the support of the international materials technology company Lucideon, as well as Stoke on Trent City Council and the Stoke–on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and will be initially based alongside Lucideon’s headquarters in Penkhull.
Tony Kinsella, chief executive of Lucideon, said: “Dr Hickey has been hugely instrumental in overseeing the phased development of AMRICC from vision into reality.
“We are delighted she has now moved into the chief executive role.
“Dr Hickey has an exceptional blend of skills and experience to take AMRICC forward, as well as the influence and commitment to make it a major economic success at a local, national and international level.”