Torbay Hi-Tech forum appoints new Chair


Following nine years of dedicated service as Chair of the Torbay Hi-Tech Forum by Martin Foulger, Dr Andrew Robertson, Senior Vice President at Gooch & Housego has been appointed.

Dr Andrew Robertson has been part of the Hi-Tech Forum for four years and steps up from Vice-Chair to Chair. Andrew is also a member of the UK Photonics Leadership Group.

Dr Andrew Robertson said: “I’m very much looking forward to leading the Hi-Tech Forum and working with the Torbay’s growing and ambitious hi-tech cluster.

“I would like to thank Martin Foulger for his dedication over the last nine years. His leadership has seen the Torbay Hi-Tech Forum grow from strength to strength and deliver significant achievements.”

During Martin’s time as Chair, the Forum has developed a Hi-Tech Skills Apprenticeship Framework with South Devon College to support skills and workforce development. Torbay has welcomed hundreds of national and international visitors to technology conferences and successfully secured investment from foreign-owned hi-tech companies. Martin also led the Forum in establishing a trade mission to SMT in Nuremberg which supported local companies to exhibit overseas and promote Torbay’s growing cluster of cutting edge technology companies.

Martin Foulger, Division Managing Director for Spirent Communications PLC, said: “It has been an honour to chair the Torbay Hi-Tech Forum. My proudest achievements have been leading what started as a handful of tech businesses into the organisation that is the influential, broad-reaching and respected Forum of today, and working with the TDA in establishing a thriving tech sector in Torbay and South Devon Tech corridor.”

“I know by handing over the role to Andrew that the continued success of the Forum and Torbay’s Hi-Tech companies is in safe hands. I wish the Forum and its members every success and am sure that exciting progress is yet to come under Andrew’s leadership.”

More recently, 2019 saw the Heart of the South West designated as an area of High Potential Opportunity in photonics and microelectronics by the Department for International Trade, which the Torbay Hi-Tech Forum played a pivotal role in securing. In addition, South West Devon, including Torbay, is now recognised by the Photonics Leadership Group as a region for photonic technology innovation and manufacturing.

In July 2019, the Forum celebrated the opening of the brand new Electronics and Photonics Innovation Centre (EPIC) in Paignton and welcomed new tenants. The development of EPIC was born out of the demand for purpose-built facilities from the area’s growing cluster of ElecTech and photonics companies, and made possible through the continued support of the Torbay Hi-Tech Forum and its members. EPIC is now the home the Hi-Tech Forum, hosting meetings, networking events and collaboration opportunities.

Dr Philip Mitchell, Photonics Technologist & Principal Product Engineering Specialist at Lumentum Operations PLC, who has been appointed as Vice-Chair of the Hi-Tech Forum, said: “As a member of the Hi-Tech Forum for the past two years I have seen first-hand the benefits it brings to cooperative organisations within Torbay and the South West. I am looking forward to supporting Andrew to continue to drive the success of this group and maximise the high growth potential of our world-class companies.”

Dr Philip Mitchell has a breadth of experience in research, development and commercialisation of optoelectronic technology. Philip works with highly innovative scale-ups and international blue-chip corporations within the photonics sector and has considerable knowledge of the academic and professional skills required to work in leading-edge technology companies as well as experience in international collaboration promoting the SW UK as a hub for innovation.

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