Meet the Team – Jane Talbot

Job title: Innovation Centre Manager, University of Warwick Science Park

How long have you been at UWSP?

I joined the University of Warwick Science Park in May 2000, working across multiple sites.

What did you do prior to joining UWSP?

I worked for 10 years at the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), formerly known as the National Council for Educational Technology (NCET).

During that time, I was based at the Scale Up buildings at the Science Park, and worked on four major national projects funded by the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE).

My role involved managing a team of 12 staff and consultants, covering every aspect of the projects from procurement to technical evaluation of equipment while reporting to the DfEE.

I last worked on a £23 million project to supply secondary teachers throughout England with portable computers, internet and associated software.

The government would announce its end of year spend on new educational equipment in January, and we would receive around 500 tenders.

Orders then had to be placed by the end of the first quarter, during which time we would have to perform tests on the equipment before the real work started, ensuring that the equipment arrived with teachers by July.

I was keen to take time out and start a family, so I eventually took voluntary redundancy when it was offered to all staff.

I then took a 12-month position with Coventry University Enterprises based at the Techno Centre, working with the Director of Commercial Affairs on Intellectual Property Rights and then started work at the UWSP, initially at the Binley site.

I currently manage two of the satellite sites as part of the UWSP, including the Venture Centre in Coventry, and the Warwick Innovation Centre at Gallows Hill.

Sum up your day-to-day responsibilities:

I divide my working week across the two sites. I have a small team at the Warwick Innovation Centre which includes our administrator, Gemma, and receptionists, Sue and Rachel. We work together to ensure that our tenants can thrive, from ensuring they have a first-class working environment to providing business support to assist in their development and growth. We support 46 businesses within the Warwick Innovation Centre.

We provide a similar service at the Venture Centre, where we support 36 businesses.

The variety of the work involved in managing each centre is what makes the job so appealing to me. On any given day I could be working with tenants to accommodate future office expansion, preparing lease renewals, assisting businesses with their recruitment needs and providing links with the University.

My job also includes dealing with building issues, refurbishments and contractors, carrying out viewings, future tenant meetings and health and safety checks, budget forecasting, management reporting and organising press releases and photoshoots for the Warwick Innovation Centre, while the Venture Centre has a dedicated team to carry out some of these tasks.

The most rewarding aspect of my job is the relationships that we develop with our tenants as we get to be a part of their exciting journeys.

Which companies are some of UWSP’s biggest success stories?

There are many success stories, some of the biggest being Scriptswitch, which provides decision support software to GPs and NHS organisations; We Are Digital, which delivers digital skills training to close the IT literacy gap; Petshopbowl, a pet food and supply business; and Rant and Rave, a consumer engagement technology developer, but there are plenty of others whose journeys I am proud to have been a part of.

Where do you live?

I live in a quiet village between Rugby and Lutterworth.

What do you do away from work to relax?

I love sports but I have found that I am now spectating more often than participating.

I spent many years swimming at a high level, training under the GB Youth coach for 20 hours every week and competing nationally and internationally.

However, over the past 12 years, I have developed a new love: rugby. My husband, Keith, and I are avid Leicester Tigers supporters and my son, Jamie, is in the Tigers Academy, so we spend our time supporting his interest and ambitions.