New Year CBE honour for top British executive seeking green solutions for the planet’s future

Written by Gerald Isaaman on .

Steve Visscher, CBESteve Visscher, CBESteve Visscher, one of Britain’s top research executives seeking a sustainable “green” future for the planet, who lives in Lockeridge, Marlborough, has been awarded the CBE in the New Year honours.

He is deputy chief executive and chief operating officer on the Swindon-based Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSC), and receives the honour for services to the support of scientific research.

“It’s a nice day despite the rain, a real pleasure to receive this award,” 57-year-old Mr Visscher told Marlborough News Online. “It came as a real surprise and I am delighted for my wife and family.”

“And I am delighted too for all my colleagues at work.  It is recognition of all the tremendous work they do. Sustainable living is so crucial to the future for all of us.”

“ We lead the world in the biosciences.  If we had an Olympics in them, then we would end up with a bagful of gold medals.”

Born in Newport Pagnell, the son of a Dutch father and English mother, Mr Visscher trained as an accountant and worked in the civil service before taking on a role with research councils 30 years ago.

He has extensive experience of the UK Research Councils.  He has worked for BBSRC since 1994 and previously for its predecessor research councils and associated institutes.

Before becoming deputy chief executive, he was BBSRC's executive director, with particular responsibility for funding policy, including the Research Councils UK project on reform of the dual support system, resource management, large capital projects and operations.

He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Auditors.

He has lived in Lockeridge for 20 years with his wife, Ann, and their two sons, Ross and Gregory, both now in their twenties.

BBSC’s work is in a world-class research arena seeking to achieve its full potential for industry, economic growth and society as a whole through the development of new “green” solutions and sustainable energy.

The virtually unknown world of bio-economy, including bio-energy, is worth trillions globally and could bring major benefits to the UK as well as creating thousands of jobs in the coming years by moving us away from fossil fuels and towards industrial renewable energy.

Funded by the government with a budget of around £500 million, BBSRC has announced outline plans to launch two new schemes in 2013 and 2014 to develop the UK's industrial biotechnology and bio-energy research community and to support the translation of new ideas into essential commercial applications.

It achieves this by supporting research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes so that BBSRC research -- and the students and scientists it funds -- can help society to meet major challenges.

These are in the fields of food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives, the investment under-pinning the important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

Mr Visscher accepts that too little is known about BBSC’s enterprise and the vital work it does, the more so as the UK's share of the global industrial biotechnology market is expected to reach £4-12 billion by 2025.

“We try to put out our message as best we can, but we can always do better,” he said.

No doubt his New Year  gong will help to spread the story of our supreme biosciences based in Swindon.