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New UK IOP President, Jonathan Flint, begins his term

Date Announced: 07 Oct 2019

London, UK -- Jonathan Flint CBE on 1 October 2019 commenced his tenure as President of the UK’s Institute of Physics. He has been President-elect since October 2017 and will now serve for two years as President. Jonathan is a Non-executive Director at Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings) Limited and a member of the board of trustees of the Oxford Trust, a charity set up to encourage the pursuit of science and enterprise in the region.

He also sits on the QuantIC strategic advisory board for the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (UK-NQTP) and is a Non-executive Director at Oxford University Innovation - the tech transfer and consultancy company set up to manage commercialisation of the University’s  R&D. Graduating in Physics from Imperial College in 1982, Jonathan also holds an MBA from Southampton University Management School. 

He started his career designing scientific and communications satellites at Marconi, where he worked for twenty years, before and after its acquisition by BAE Systems. He held both technical and managerial roles before becoming a managing director at Marconi and then at BAE Systems. In 2005, Jonathan was appointed CEO of Oxford Instruments – the first substantial spin-out companies from Oxford University – where he served for 11 years. 

He has been a board member of the UK National Neutron Source at Harwell and sits on the economic advisory board for the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (now part of UK Research and Innovation).

Jonathan has also been Non-executive Director for Stadium plc, an electronics design and manufacturing company specialising in the Internet of Things, and Senior Independent Non-executive Director for Cobham plc, a leading UK defence and communications equipment contractor.  He has also been a non-executive director of Readypower, a rail infrastructure company.

In July 2019, Jonathan joined Refeyn, a physics-based technology company spun out from research at Oxford University, as Executive Chairman. He has been a Fellow of the IOP since 2007 and is also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He was awarded a CBE in 2012 ‘for services to Business and Science’.

Research into the impacts of discovery science and maths

IOP, together with the UK's Council for Mathematical Sciences, the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Society of Chemistry, is commissioning research to create a coherent, up-to-date picture of the impacts of discovery science and maths research in the UK, on our society, environment and economy, including its role within the wider research and innovation landscape.

It is anticipated that the outputs could inform decision making in government and research funding agencies on how to ensure the funding landscape can deliver the best outcomes from investment in R&D in the long term as well as the short term.

Discovery research, also known as fundamental, basic, pure or curiosity-driven research, is theoretical or experimental work undertaken to acquire new knowledge without any intended direct application or use. It plays a role in the wider research and innovation landscape, alongside, for example, applied research and experimental development.

While the role and value of R&D in the UK's economy and society is well understood, evidence regarding discovery science and maths research is more limited, and often fragmented or out of date. If the UK's investment in R&D is to deliver the best outcomes for our economy and society, we must understand the interplay between discovery research and other types of research supported by the current funding landscape, and the associated impacts.

This research will expand and illuminate the evidence base on the impacts of discovery science and maths research, drawing on national and regional examples, and considering:

  • its role within the wider R&D landscape (e.g. pushing the frontiers of knowledge and contributing to other fields of research)
  • its impacts on the economy and social prosperity (e.g. skilled job creation and co-location of businesses)
  • its impacts on society and culture (e.g. improved health and wellbeing, and protection of the environment)


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