Over the last 20 years, Professor Oakes has held a number of senior management posts in higher education before joining the University of Wolverhampton in 2008 as Pro Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for the University’s research and enterprise agenda and developing the growing knowledge transfer arena at regional, national and international levels. More recently he was promoted to the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor as well as Chief Executive of University of Wolverhampton Science Park.
Since the early 1980’s he has been involved in an extensive programme of technology transfer activities, both national and transnational, operating across a range of sectors and has led the development of a number of initiatives focussing specifically on the transfer of technology from academia to both large and small firms. These have included DTI/TSB funded Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) and Carrier Technology Programmes, European Commission funded Framework V, VI & VI RTD and CRAFT projects and EU structural funded business support initiatives.
These multi-million pound projects involving companies both nationally and internationally have focused on a range of sectors including; jewellery, giftware, automotive, creative industries, environmental, engineering and manufacturing. He has also developed and led a substantial number of ESF funded training programmes and ACCELERATE funded company development and training programmes for the automotive, manufacturing and creative industries. These flexible, progressive programmes have been specifically aimed at widening participation in higher education for those in employment. Professor Oakes also led the development and delivery of projects for multi-company and multi-university schemes to promote collaboration amongst the West Midlands region’s universities. He has travelled extensively throughout mainland Europe, the Middle East, India, China and South East Asia to coordinate technology transfer projects as well as develop and maintain relationships with university partners.
Professor Oakes has in depth knowledge of the UK higher education sector having taught at all levels, developed both undergraduate and postgraduate courses and validated new courses. He has been awarded Professorships from two universities and has been appointed to the Boards of two Local Enterprise Partnerships with specific responsibility for education and skills. He holds a number of directorships of external organisations.
He has been educated at the Universities of Aston and Bath and initially worked in the automotive industry on robotics and data acquisition systems before joining the University of Central England. His initial research activity focused on integrated circuit design and new techniques of electronic manufacture. During the 1990’s, this area of research broadened into developing models of world class manufacturing and organizational change in small manufacturing firms. He has published widely in the field of innovation and technology transfer in the small firm manufacturing sector. More recently, his research has focused on the role of university-business collaboration in influencing regional innovation.