“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Southampton Science Park and to have had the opportunity to work with such exciting people. I have nothing but respect for all the businesses here that are working hard to grow and to make differences in society that extend well beyond our boundaries and the region, right across the world,” commented Peter Birkett at an informal reception to celebrate his retirement as Chief Executive.
Reflecting on his twelve and a half years in the post, Mr Birkett gave an overview of progress made in terms of physical developments, amenities, marketing and community building at the Science Park during this time.
He highlighted the creation of the new Benham Campus and the repurposing of outdated buildings into new business facilities such as the Science Centre laboratories and the Axis conference centre. Amenities for tenant staff have been high on the agenda too, with the creation of Lattes coffee shops, an on-site nursery for pre-school children and the opening up of the Chilworth conservation area for the enjoyment of all. Most recently, Mr Birkett oversaw the creation of a new brand identity which will help to ensure that Southampton Science Park is recognised as a leading location for science and technology businesses to thrive. Associated with this new brand, he noted that the launch of SO magazine, which “opens our office doors to the world” was one of his “biggest achievements”.
Southampton Science Park’s thriving community is a key differentiator, again something that Mr Birkett is particularly proud to have developed. “Through initiatives like our CEO Breakfasts and our Catalyst programme where participants can share challenges, learnings and opportunities, we create connections and seed opportunities for growth. It has been a real privilege to work with the nearly fifty young companies that have participated in Catalyst over the last eight years and the positive difference that the programme has made to these start-up ventures is clearly evidenced,” he remarked.
Concluding, Mr Birkett said that building high-functioning onsite facilities and management teams had been the most satisfying of all his responsibilities, noting that he could not have accomplished a fraction of all of the above mentioned achievements without their hard work. “While I now look forward to enjoying my grandchildren and sailing more frequently, I’m pleased to be leaving Southampton Science Park with the prospect of a very positive future indeed.”