Dr Robin JacksonDirector of the Rural Business School

Robin has built constructive relationships across agri-food and technology sectors, and is responsible for significant economic development initiatives, winning and delivering substantial contracts. He is the director of the Rural Business School (RBS), at Duchy and Bicton Colleges, leading teams of specialists providing research, consulting, and knowledge transfer to the land-based industries. He is also the course director for the prestigious Challenge of Rural Leadership course run in partnership with the Worshipful Company of Farmers. 

Before joining the RBS, Robin was the Chief Executive Officer of Peninsula Innovations Limited (PIL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University of Exeter. He created PIL as a self-sustaining vehicle for economic development. Through a campus Innovation Centre and a separate Science Park Centre, PIL provided high-growth potential businesses with offices and laboratories, conference centres and cafes, information technology, and business support services. PIL’s resources, operational surplus, and people helped develop collaborative initiatives – innovation ecosystems – for the wider Exeter region, notably vibrant networks and support activities.  

Robin has a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Bristol (1985), and a PhD in Biotechnology from Imperial College London (1992). His early career was primarily in applied research in university and private sector laboratories in and around London, resulting in several technology start-ups. In 2000 he moved to Devon with his family and joined the University of Exeter to manage and develop its intellectual property. Robin developed the strategy for PIL to support the commercialisation and utilisation of technology resulting in the University joining the SETsquared partnership (Universities of Bristol, Bath, Surrey, Southampton, and Exeter) that was recognised as the world’s best university technology incubator for several years.