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Advanced Research and Invention Agency

Volume 708: debated on Tuesday 1 February 2022

The leadership of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) has been the subject of much Parliamentary interest. Today, I am delighted to update the House that I have appointed Dr Peter Highnam as the agency’s first Chief Executive Officer and re-commenced the search for ARIA’s first Chair.

ARIA, the Government’s new science funding body, will focus solely on finding and funding ground-breaking research projects with the potential to transform the lives of people in the UK, and around the world.

This announcement comes at an opportune moment, as the legislation to create ARIA enters the final stages of its passage through Parliament, ahead of the agency becoming fully operational later this year.

Dr Peter Highnam will play a pivotal role in ARIA’s formative years by defining the agency’s vision, recruiting its first programme managers, and establishing its organisational culture. He will take post on 3 May 2022 for a fixed term of five years.

Dr Peter Highnam brings a wealth of experience to the role, as he has served as Deputy Director at the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) since February 2018, and as acting director on two occasions. He has previously held positions as the Director of Research at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and as Director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. Born in the UK, Dr Peter Highnam holds a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. He obtained his master’s degree at the University of Bristol, and his undergraduate degree at the University of Manchester.

The appointment has been made in accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments, following a fair and open competition overseen by an Advisory Assessment Panel.

To support Dr Peter Highnam, I am re-launching the campaign to find ARIA’s first Chair. Once appointed, ARIA’s Chair will have the unique opportunity to be a trusted counsel for Dr Peter Highnam as he leads the agency through its fledgling years.