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Meet the Team: Al Innes

In today’s post we meet Al Innes, Research Development Officer for the Research Support Office and talk about development, research strategies and Maurice Ravel.

What led you to work at the University?

I had spent 5 years working in the private sector as a Research Communications Manager and then Business Development Manager for a software company, writing proposals and project managing their R&D projects in FP7 and Horizon 2020. In my last 18 months in the job I took 200~ flights, developed sciatica, and the UK voted to leave the EU. At which point I thought it might be time for a change. I had been working with several universities in Europe, and had previously worked at Edinburgh Napier so I knew a lot of people working in HE. When I saw this role it seemed like the ideal combination of all that proposal development experience and my background in the arts, and I haven’t looked back since.

How long have you been at the University?

I will have been here two years come April.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The challenge of agility. Development is a space that has to be fluid – to meet the needs of stakeholders at all levels – so you need to be flexible, but you can’t compromise on the quality. Ultimately that’s what motivates me. I really enjoy the breadth of disciplines we support as well. We are a team that gets to learn so much from the stakeholders we serve and you can see that in conversations and learning that we share with each other. We get to learn so much week to week, it fills you up.

Ask me about…

Funders. Government policy. Research strategies. We do so much that sits right at the edge of funding calls opening, policy forming and scanning the horizon for new or alternate funding avenues, that we’re always keeping our eyes and ears peeled for what’s coming up. I spend a lot of time planning with stakeholders at all levels, and building that mental picture of a subject, School, centre or College structure so we can serve interdisciplinary demands more and more. I also like to know gossip, so always open to that!

What do you like doing when you are not being a Research Development Officer?

I like to run (next up is the Glentress 21k in February) and canoe. That relaxes me. I run a theatre company (Minollo Theatre) that I founded in 2018. Between writing and directing, that takes up a lot of my spare time. That and the cat. The cat demands a lot of attention.

Top 3 gigs?

Foo Fighters and Nine Inch Nails in 2007. It was at (the now deceased) Meadowbank Stadium and it was the first time I crowd surfed. Bob Dylan at Stirling Castle in 03’ was good. Although for the first half an hour I thought the guitarist was Bob. I’d only seen pictures of him from the 60’s!

I reviewed a Larry Adler gig for local radio in Edinburgh in August 2000. I didn’t appreciate how special it was until he passed away a year later. That’s when I thought “Oh, right.” Interestingly enough, Maurice Ravel was so impressed with his rendition of Ravel’s Boléro, he had it stated in his will that Adler could perform it royalty free. Good gig.

Favourite thing to do in Edinburgh?

I grew up in the shadow of the Pentland Hills, and I’ve never got tired of just flâneuring north into the town. Edinburgh is a special place to live, and having an office spread across it is something I particularly enjoy about working at the University.

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Al Innes



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