Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and events from TWI:

Subscribe >
Skip to content

John Hill, Director of Technology at TWI Awarded OBE

Mon, 17 June, 2024

John Hill, TWI’s Director of Technology, has been recognised for his services to SMEs, to the research institutes sector, to local economic development and to higher education, in the King’s Birthday Honours List.

John has been awarded an OBE following a career spanning 10 years in manufacturing, 30 in research institutes and 5 in central and local government.

John joined PERA, the Production Engineering Research Association, in 1988 as a Chartered Engineer, specialising in engineering polymers and composites. There he rose to become its Director of Technology in 2000 and its Chief Executive in 2008. In the 90s he built an international network of research institutes focused on helping thousands of small firms to innovate, providing the money and the scientific expertise for them to develop hundreds of innovative new products. Later, between 2000 and 2015, he developed management techniques for helping small firms grow faster and for longer, piloting these first in the East Midlands, then establishing a national small firm growth coaching programme. This went on to help 20,000 small firms accelerate their growth, creating 75,000 jobs.

He then spent a spell in Government, first in Whitehall responsible for increasing exports from small firms nationally, then as Director of Business & Skills for the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Metro-Mayor. There he saw the challenges facing his home city, Peterborough, a higher education “cold spot” with only 32 per cent of the population having degree level qualifications, compared to a national average of 43 per cent. Peterborough also ranks 191st out of 324 local authority districts for social mobility, with Fenland ranked 319th. To help tackle this, he developed an idea to improve education and skills in the city especially designed to help solve the problem. To make it a reality, he overcame the obstacles that for 20 years had prevented the establishment of a university in the city and within 30 months had gathered together a wide range of partners to help raise £80m to build what has become the multi-award-winning[1] ARU Peterborough.

He has served as both Director of Membership and Director of Technology at TWI since 2022.

Upon hearing the news John commented, “I am incredibly humbled to have been recognised in this way, and much of the credit goes to the many inspiring and dedicated colleagues I’ve had the privilege to work with along the way. Across my thirty years in the research institute sector, I’ve been constantly in awe of the brilliance and innovation of the individuals and teams I’ve worked with. Equally in the public sector, I’ve been amazed by the capacity for compassion and the readiness to come together to help change life chances and opportunity for others.”

David Wrathmall, TWI’s Interim Chief Executive Officer said, “TWI’s Members and staff congratulate John on this award and we are very pleased to have someone with his experience and achievements as part of our management team. He has been with us for only a brief time, but has made a big impression, and already helped us transition our Technology business from a long period of losses into profit, grown our sales and deepened our engagement with our Members."

Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough commented, “Huge congratulations to John for this honour which is a fitting testament to his exceptional contributions over a distinguished career spanning nearly five decades. His hard work and pioneering approach has not only stimulated growth and job creation but have also made a significant impact on skills development and regeneration, particularly here in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. His passion for this region is clear and we look forward to seeing even more fantastic achievements in the future.”

Professor Ross Renton, Principal of ARU Peterborough commented, “I extend my congratulations to John for his well-deserved recognition in the Honours List. He has played an instrumental role in helping to realise the decades-long ambition to establish a university for Peterborough. Since opening to students in 2022, ARU Peterborough has gone from strength to strength, and this award is a fitting honour for the hard work and dedication shown by John in helping to raise skills levels across the region. It has been a pleasure to work with John as part of the partnership team who have been delivering this multi-award-winning university.”


([1] Recent award won by ARU linked to ARU Peterborough; University of the Year, UK Social Mobility Awards 2023, Winner of the University Impact Initiative of the Year Award, AUDE 2023, Shortlisted for Higher Education Project, AJ Architecture Awards 2023, Shortlisted for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community, THE Awards 2023 Regional Finalist, Civic Trust Awards 2024.)

For more information please email: