THE man tasked with turning Newcastle into a city of science has quit his post as Government cuts take hold.
Peter Arnold has resigned as the successful chief executive of the Newcastle Science City company as it prepares for funding cuts which threaten to undermine his hopes of transforming Tyneside.
Mr Arnold oversaw the creation of the UK-leading Newcastle Innovation Machine, which had planned to create hundreds of research jobs but funding for this expires in September.
It is believed Mr Arnold made clear to Science City bosses that a downgraded project would not need a man of his experience – or pay – in the role.
As well as funding gaps emerging for the wider educational and job creation work, Science City is still waiting to see if the Government will fund £8m towards the creation of a flagship research building on the site of the former Tyne Brewery.
The task facing city leaders now is how to maintain Mr Arnold’s success record with far fewer resources once funding changes kick in 12 months from now.
Last night Paul Walker, chair of Newcastle Science City, praised Mr Arnold for his work on the scheme.
He said: “The question was asked what happens next year when the funding from the regional development agency expires. We want to continue with what he has been doing, but there is much less funding available.
“Peter put together a number of options for how this might operate, and one of those was to have a smaller body with some of the current responsibilities.
“His conclusion was that if that was the way the partners want to go, it probably does not need a chief executive of his calibre, and more of a general manager. Peter is a man of great integrity and we are grateful for what he has done here.”
Mr Walker said talks are ongoing to find more private sector investment in the project.
In a statement released by the Newcastle Science City company Mr Arnold said: “I am very proud of our many achievements and leave NSC in a strong position to adapt within a more challenging funding environment.
“I feel the time is right for me to move on and explore some really interesting new ideas I have for ventures within the science sector.” Nick Kemp, who chairs Newcastle Council’s economy scrutiny committee, said the city had to question what it was doing to achieve its aims around science jobs.
“The Innovation Machine was clearly beginning to make an impact, and a number of investments and programmes were running well.
“But there remains a huge development site, Science Central, in the city centre crying out for science based investment, and it is important that this happens or it will be one of the great lost opportunities.”
The project is backed by Newcastle Council and Newcastle University.
Last night council chief executive Barry Rowland, said: “Peter Arnold has made an enormous contribution to Science City, and leaves the project in a strong position.
“We see Newcastle Science City as a vital part of our shared ambitions for job creation and business growth. The partners will be supporting the Newcastle Science City team during this transitional phase.”
Mr Arnold was formerly group director of technology at Smith and Nephew – a leading medical device company – and has experience as a senior research and development leader.
He has created a number of business and contributed to government policy on clinical research, nanotechnology and stem cell research, all vital to Science City success.