He takes up his post in early February.
The Knowledge and Innovation Group leads BIS’s relationships with the higher education sector. It also fosters links between the UK’s university, science and research base and industry to support economic growth, both through the development of a skilled workforce and through the transfer of new technologies and innovation.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “I am very pleased that John will be leading on knowledge and innovation. He brings huge management and academic experience to the post. His team is key to our strategy for delivering strong educational institutions, more innovation and a growing economy.”
The Knowledge and Innovation Group works with three executive agencies – UK Space Agency, Intellectual Property Office and the National Measurement Office – and non-departmental public bodies including the Research Councils, Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Student Loans Company and the Technology Strategy Board.
Professor O’Reilly said: “There is no more important task in the UK today than creating a strong, growing economy based on science, innovation and research. I am looking forward to working on this with colleagues in the group, in the department more widely and beyond.”
He has been vice chancellor at Cranfield University since December 2006. Before that, he spent five years as chief executive for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.