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New Business Board chair has task of driving region’s new industrial plan

9 August 2019

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A new Business Board chair today takes charge of pushing forward the first ever Local Industrial Strategy – LIS - for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough which was launched last month.   

The interim appointment of Austen Adams – to replace inaugural Business Board chair Professor Aamir Khalid - was announced today by Mayor James Palmer. 

“We are incredibly grateful to Professor Khalid for his expertise, experience and leadership in the Board’s crucial first months. He’s been both an inspiration and a champion and we’re thankful that he’ll stay on as a member of the Board, even though he’s standing down as chair,” said Mayor Palmer. 

These are big shoes to fill but Austen Adams couldn’t be a worthier successor. He already has invaluable experience as a Business Board member and he’squarely behind the Combined Authority ambition to make this whole region, not just Cambridge city, one of the world’s top places to live, work, and do business. He’ll take ownership of the industrial strategy and waste no time putting it to workattracting investment, unlocking new markets, and helping our firms to deliver prosperity throughout the community.   

The LIS spells out the key actions needed to smash the Combined Authority's target to double the size of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough economyImprovements include building joined-up transport links, removing obstacles to trade, increasing apprenticeships, and tailoring more adult education courses to business requirements, skilling up local applicants to apply for well-paid jobs near to homeand boosting productivity and growth across the three sub-economies of the Fens, Greater Peterborough, and Greater Cambridge.  

The LIS seeks to realise the region’s full economic potential by identifying diverse strengths – Peterborough’s rapid growth, Cambridge’s leadership in global research, and the Fens’ innovative micro and agricultural businesses - and tying them together to ensure housing, energy capacity, transport, and workforce development help drive continued productivity across the region.  

Heading the Business Board - the local enterprise partnership or LEP which advises the Combined Authority on ways to bring companies and investors to the region and help them excel – Adams is a highly-regarded business leader with a 30-year track record managing engineering companies in varied market sectors across the globe. 

Having started out as an engineering apprentice in the UK’s industrial heartland, Adams worked his way up to the C-suite. An advocate of modern management practice, he trained with Textron Inc. in the US as a global business troubleshooter before taking senior executive roles in sales, operational, and general management across five continents. 

Interim Chair of the Business Board, Austen Adams said: 

“The Business Board is all about fostering innovation and supporting local enterprise, working in partnership across our region. By generating the conditions in which businesses flourish, the Combined Authority can achieve its goal of doubling economic output while building an inclusive economy to sustain prosperity across our community.  I’m proud to have been chosen to take the Local Industrial Strategy forward and help deliver its bright promise. It combines bold ambition with clear actions that will help firms to become more productive and make their mark all across the globe.” 

Adams currently manages a portfolio of twelve industrial businesses within Avingtrans plc, ten in this country and two in China. Two cornerstone companies in his portfolio, Peter Brotherhood and Metalcraft, are located within the Combined Authority. He holds advisory roles for the National Skills Academy Nuclear, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Make UK, and the Walsall Economic Board. He also provides advisory services to local SMEs in the engineering sector. 

keen outdoorsman, father-of-three Adams is currently managing director of aAvingtrans division with businesses across the global energy market. Prior to this, he was group CEO at David Brown Hydraulics with responsibility for broadening the company’s global footprint.