The Business Board comprises a fantastic team of industry experts and key opinion leaders not only within our region but also with national and international networks, interests and focus. We have representatives from key sectors of our economy including life sciences and healthcare, agri-tech and agri-food and advanced manufacturing. We also have strong academic expertise. We ensure that a clear business perspective is brought forward as the Combined Authority seeks to be at the frontier of accelerating delivery and securing new investment models, with and across Government, the private sector and the local area.


Alex Plant Business Board Chair

Alex became Strategy and Regulation Director at Anglian Water in 2017, and led for the company on its Business Plan and engagement with Ofwat for PR19 and the subsequent CMA Redetermination process. He is now taking forward the plans for new reservoir systems in the region to address the water scarcity challenges in the East.

Previously he has worked as Director of Regulation at Royal Mail, Executive Director for Economy, Transport & Environment at Cambridgeshire County Council, and Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Horizons (the body overseeing the plans for sustainable new communities in Cambridgeshire).

Earlier in his career, Alex was Deputy Regional Director of the Government Office for the East of England, spent 4 years as Head of Economic Policy and International Aviation at the CAA, and worked in HM Treasury on competition policy, including leading the work on the 2002 Enterprise Act.

In addition to his role with Anglian Water, Alex is a Board Member for Water Resources East, and chairs the Regional Productivity Forum for East Anglia (as part of the wider £32m ESRC-funded Productivity Institute).

ANDY NEELY Business Board Vice-Chair

Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations, University of Cambridge, Deputy Chair of the Business Board:

Professor Andy Neely is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge and former Head of the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM).

He is a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College and Director of the Centre for Digital Built Britain and Founding Director of the Cambridge Service Alliance. He is widely recognised for his work on the servitisation of manufacturing, as well as his work on performance measurement and management. Previously he has held appointments at Cranfield University, London Business School, Cambridge University, where he was a Fellow of Churchill College, Nottingham University, where he completed his PhD and British Aerospace.

He was Deputy Director of AIM Research – the UK’s management research initiative – from 2003 until 2012 and was elected a Fellow of the Sunningdale Institute in 2005, a Fellow of the British Academy of Management in 2007, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2008, a Fellow of the European Operations Management Association in 2009 and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2018.


Dr Tina Barsby has recently retired as CEO of Cambridgeshire crop science pioneers NIAB.

She is a plant geneticist well-known for her significant experience in the agricultural crop sector. Under her leadership, NIAB has become an internationally recognised and innovative organisation with a reputation for turning plant science into valuable products and services for the industry.

She is a Fellow of St Edmunds College and, from October, Honorary Professor of Agricultural Botany at the University of Cambridge.

Dr Barsby was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List for services to Agricultural Sciences and Biotechnology.

Dr Barsby currently runs a consultancy business based near Ely.


Mike Herd has enjoyed a long career spent in business and technology.

Mike’s career started in the oil industry with Britoil/BP. He became a specialist in rock physics and petroleum engineering, working on North Sea exploration and field development projects. His work took him frequently offshore to supervise well-site operations. He went on to join an international consulting and software business. After many years of projects worldwide, he took on a leadership position managing a sizeable technical consulting operation. When Schlumberger acquired the consultancy, Mike took on an international business development role for the group.

In the late nineties, Mike’s career took an exciting turn as he left the oil industry to become the founding CEO of the Sussex Innovation Centre, one of the UK’s first technology business incubators. Over the next twenty years and through the success of many hundreds of supported businesses, he developed Sussex Innovation to be a national exemplar of entrepreneurial support. Unlike the many business centres that just rent office space, Mike set out to create a more proactive and dynamic support environment. He created specialist finance and market research teams to assist businesses with their new product development, investment and growth. A key difference for Sussex Innovation under Mike’s leadership was the commercial model that enabled it to be financially self-sustainable.

As the Centre became an important part of Sussex’s business community, Mike led the development and delivery of many successful regional economic development and business support initiatives. He also took the lead at the University of Sussex in creating more progressive research commercialisation, student enterprise and graduate intern programmes.

Since leaving Sussex Innovation, Mike has enjoyed working as a business consultant and coach with an eclectic mix of ambitious businesses and entrepreneurs. He also runs peer-to-peer business boards as part of the Alpha Group.

Mike has won many awards for his work with entrepreneurs and businesses, culminating in the Queens’ Award for Enterprise Promotion.


Professor Aamir Khalid is the Chief Executive of The Welding Institute (TWI Ltd).

Aamir is responsible for The Structural Integrity Research Foundation (SIRF) and the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC). This is a 10 year, £150m, industrially sponsored project by TWI, Lloyds Register Foundation (LRF) and BP. Other research sponsors include HEFCE, RGF and Brunel University. The Centre has the aim of sponsoring 330 PhDs and 220 MScs in Structural Integrity and carrying out R&D on behalf of TWI, BP and LRF in the field of structural integrity.

Director responsible for TWI’s public and collaborative funding office. In the past 5 years; TWI has won and managed over £500m of R&D funding on behalf of its members from various public funding sources eg H2020, InnovateUK, RGF, ERDF, HEFCE etc.

Director responsible for TWI’s product company called Plant Integrity Ltd. This is a £6m turnover company that sells products that emerge from TWI’s R&D.

Associate Professor, Brunel University London. Expertise in application of robots to non-destructive testing.

Aamir is the Business Board member with specific responsibility for SMEs.


Al Kingsley is a passionate believer in the exciting possibilities of educational technology. He is the Group Managing director of NetSupport, who develop software solutions that support the use of technology in classrooms alongside eSafety tech to safeguard students online.

He chairs a Multi-Academy trust, has worked on delivery of new Free Schools, sits on the Head Teacher board for the Regional Schools Commissioner and is a regional Apprenticeship Ambassador for businesses across the East of England.


Nitin Patel is a General Management Executive and CEO with operational and commercial skills gained from several turnaround situations with Glen Dimplex, a privately-owned business based in Dublin. He has experience of working in a multinational business having worked with General Motor in various capacities, including European Powertrain Manager, leading design innovation and manufacturing excellence in the UK and internationally.

He is now an independent consultant and lecturer on business transformation, with experience of change and scale-up in global corporations up to £100bn.


Rebecca Stephens is director of her own communications consultancy, Syntax Communications, providing public relations, community engagement, and internal communications services to a wide range of clients across both private and public sectors. She is currently working with the UK’s leading alternative provider of fibre infrastructure, CityFibre, to digitally transform Peterborough and Cambridge by bringing gigabit-speed full fibre connectivity within reach of almost every home and business in the cities.

Previously she was the editor of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph and editorial director of East Midlands Newspapers, where she campaigned on community issues, launched new publications, and won industry awards.

Rebecca, who lives in Peterborough, has held several non-executive roles with 10 years at various NHS organisations, including as vice chair of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG; as well as Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Probation Trust and as an Independent Member of Police Misconduct Panels.


Andy works closely with regional and national stakeholders to develop the local infrastructure, promoting the life sciences sector and inspiring the next generation of scientists through AstraZeneca’s extensive local community outreach activities.

With the arrival of AstraZeneca’s strategic R&D Centre and global head office in Cambridge, Andy has been an active contributor to evolving Cambridge’s thinking in areas like transport, skill development, community amenity, housing and digital.

Andy joined MedImmune, formerly Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT), in 1993 as a Senior Scientist and quickly took on a number of increasingly senior roles within

CAT prior to its integration into MedImmune in 2007. These included the leadership of several drug discovery and technology development projects for CAT and also responsibility for strategic management.


As director of Agri-TechE, Dr Clarke is part of Europe’s largest commercial membership network connecting farmers and growers with researchers, technologists, entrepreneurs and investors. Agri-TechE brings together those who see innovation as way to enhance the economic growth, agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability of the agri-food value chain.

Dr Clarke is also a Non-Executive Director of Agrimetrics, one of the UK’s Agri-Tech Centres, and was a member of the Council of UKRI-BBSRC and a Trustee of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (2015-2021). In 2021 she was awarded The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association’s Sir Timothy Colman Prize for “outstanding leadership in the agri-tech sector.”

She has a first degree from the University of Cambridge in Natural Sciences (Part II Plant Sciences) and a PhD in plant biochemistry following her research on starch production in peas and potatoes at the John Innes Centre. She is a Nuffield Scholar, an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Councils, a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Biology, and the Clean Growth Leadership Network, a Chartered Biologist, and a qualified business coach.


Mr Annells has recently become Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce. Prior to this, he was Executive Director of Mansion House and the Central Criminal Court, where his remit involved supporting and advising the Lord Mayor of the City of London to serve as a global ambassador for the UK-based financial and professional services industry. Vic’s role also covered the running of Mansion House and the UK’s leading criminal court, the Old Bailey.

He a wealth of experience from work in Africa, the Middle East and Europe in the public and private sectors. Mr Annells held roles including Director for the Department for International Trade in Saudi Arabia, HM Consul General in Milan, and Director General for Trade and Investment in Italy on behalf of UK Trade & Investment. He holds a Masters Degree in International Relations from Cambridge University.