University of Strathclyde appoints new CEO of its Power Networks Demonstration Centre

The University of Strathclyde has appointed a new Chief Executive Officer to lead its Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC).

Dr Will Drury, currently the Executive Director for Digital and Technologies at Innovate UK – part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – and Challenge Director of the Driving the Electric Revolution Challenge Fund, will take over the running of PNDC on 8th April.

PNDC is a unique power technology innovation and testing facility established in 2013 by Strathclyde, SP Energy Networks and SSE Power Distribution, with support from Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council.

The Centre supports the development and deployment of innovative electricity network technologies to accelerate the decarbonisation of the energy system and create new opportunities for supply chain companies as part of the journey towards a sustainable net zero economy.

PNDC’s facilities, focus and expertise has expanded in recent years to include the decarbonisation of transport and heat – two sectors whose emissions are hard to abate – to cover ‘whole energy system’ solutions.

A Chartered Engineer, Dr Drury holds a Masters in Electrical & Electronic Engineering and a PhD from the University of Bristol, is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and has been a Visiting Professor at Strathclyde since 2021. Prior to joining Innovate UK he worked for engineering consultancy firm Ricardo UK, latterly as Head of Electronics & Electric Machines Products.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “I am really pleased to welcome Will to the University as we will benefit greatly from his proven track record of making an impact and driving transformative growth through his leadership skills, deep technical knowledge, industrial credibility and ability to build cross-sectoral connections.

“His experience of collaborative working, bringing together industry, academia and government, fits perfectly with Strathclyde’s sector-leading ‘triple-helix’ partnership model.

“As an internationally-respected leader in the field of electrification, with a strong background in power electronics, motors and drives, I am confident Will can help PNDC and Strathclyde deliver transformative change for the energy, transport and heat sectors as part of a new sustainable net zero economy.”

Dr Drury said: “Climate change presents us with an existential threat. Throughout my career I have been working on delivering and supporting solutions required for the net zero transition. To lead PNDC, as it starts its second decade, and be at the forefront of that transition, leveraging my industrial, public and academic experience, provides the opportunity to make a real difference.

“I am honoured to have been appointed to deliver a growth plan with PNDC, as an integral part of the research and innovation continuum within the Strathclyde ecosystem, enabling our partners to benefit from the world-class people and facilities we have. I look forward to expanding the reach of PNDC and the breadth of activities being delivered, growing existing relationships and welcoming new partners to our networks.”

Since its opening, PNDC has grown into a world-class innovation and demonstration facility with around 50 staff and has successfully delivered more than 270 innovation projects in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including large industrials, network operators, SMEs, policymakers and academic institutions.

PNDC is delivering on initiatives such as the Whole Energy Systems Accelerator (WESA), a collaboration between PNDC and the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC), which aims to understand the behaviour of consumers in their homes and how this behaviour impacts on energy technologies, networks, policy, regulation and commercial models.

Strathclyde is a research leader in energy, operating one of the largest energy research clusters in Europe, and received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2019 in recognition of the excellence of its research in the field of Energy Innovation.