Leicester chemist joins cohort of professionals providing insight to politicians

The expertise of a chemist at the University of Leicester has been called upon to help analyse and discuss challenges and advances in science and technology with senior figures in Government and Parliament.

Dr Fabrizio Ortu from the University of Leicester School of Chemistry is among 35 Future Leaders announced today (13 December) by the Foundation for Science and Technology, which seeks to support the leaders of tomorrow in building the links and knowledge that they will need. 

The Foundation Future Leaders programme is organised by the Foundation for Science and Technology, and each year brings together a cohort of around 35 mid-career professionals over the course of a year, with approximately one third of representatives drawn from each of the research community, industry, and the civil service and wider public sector. Over a 12-month period, the group meet and discuss with senior figures from government, parliament, universities, large industry, SMEs, research charities and others, to enhance their knowledge of the wider UK science and technology ecosystem. Just as importantly, Future Leaders present their own expertise, develop new skills and make future contacts. The programme includes external visits and the development of an annual conference for a wider group of mid-career future leaders in science, technology, research and innovation.

Competition for the 2024 scheme was intense, and the selection panel had over 140 high quality applications. The selected candidates are drawn from a wide range of organisations and will bring a diverse range of experiences and expertise to the newest Foundation Future Leaders programme.

Dr Fabrizio Ortu works in the University of Leicester School of Chemistry where he works very closely with students, both at the University and in the community. His hope is that this scheme will enable him to discuss improving socio-economic representation in STEM with various professionals and policymakers, and develop strategies to bring young people closer to STEM subjects, and chemical sciences in particular.

Dr Ortu said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be part of the Foundation Future Leaders scheme. This will be a fantastic opportunity to develop strong links with the wider UK scientific community beyond the academic remit, which will be hugely important for my professional development and also to strengthen the profile of the University of Leicester.

“My career ambition is to use my expertise to address scientific and societal challenges, and to do this I know I need to develop a more holistic approach that engages stakeholders beyond the academic sector. This is the perfect scheme to achieve this and develop important synergies with professionals from the scientific sector who aren’t currently within my reach.

“The networking opportunities offered by the Scheme will have a significant effect on my research funding strategy going forward, as it will enable me to better understand and address strategic needs that are shared across the academic, industrial and science policy sectors. I will also be able to advise and support students, researchers and other professionals that I interact with as part of my academic role here at Leicester, thus improving their interactions with the wider scientific community.”

Professor Sarah Davies, Head of the College of Science and Engineering at Leicester, said: “I am delighted that Dr Ortu has been selected as a Foundation Future Leader for 2024. As scientists it is critical that we are engaged in the wider sector in which we work and are able to understand discuss challenges and opportunities with colleagues from across research and innovation in the UK. The access to senior figures from government, parliament, universities, large industry, SMEs and research charities this scheme offers is incredible. This Future Leaders scheme is aligned with the University of Leicester’s Institute for Policy and its remit to ensure that our research shapes positive and lasting change within the world around us.”