Community 13.11.18

The 2018 ‘Faces of a Vibrant Economy’ names Hallam professor

Steve Haake, professor of sports engineering at the University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) has been recognised for his work in translating technology used in elite sport to benefit and improve the health and wellbeing of the general population.

As part of Grant Thornton’s commitment to shaping a vibrant economy in the UK, each year the firm identifies and brings together 100 progressive leaders across private, public and third sectors that demonstrate excellence in two or more of the following areas:


  • Growth – fostering a culture of growth, job creation and leading their organisation into new markets
  • Innovation  – solving problems, leaders whose products or services are disrupting the sector and challenging the status quo
  • Purpose – investing in their workforce, connecting financial profit to social purpose and contributing to the wider community

The Faces of a Vibrant Economy are selected from across the UK and represent diverse sectors and industries.  Among them are business leaders, entrepreneurs, local government innovators and third sector trailblazers – recognised for their commitment to developing an economy that enables people, organisations and communities to flourish.

The AWRC, which is situated at the heart of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, is set to be the most advanced research centre in the world for developing innovations that will improve population health and physical activity by increasing people’s mobility through lifestyle change and technological innovation to reduce the risk and consequences of chronic diseases.

The key facility, which will open next year, is supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, who have committed £14million of funding to the project.

The AWRC will feature indoor and outdoor facilities for 70 researchers to carry out world-leading research on health and physical activity in collaboration with the private sector, with a focus on taking services and products from concept to market.

It will also feature an indoor laboratory with cameras and tracking instruments, a biomechanics laboratory, diagnostic equipment such as ultrasound scanners, body composition measurement and physiological testing, a technology demonstrator hub and integrated NHS clinics.

Professor Steve Haake, said: “The University is an organisation that is committed to creating innovative and real-world solutions for tackling today’s health and wellbeing challenges and I’m proud that our work is being recognised in this way as part of the ‘Faces’ campaign.

“Bringing together public and private sector organisations is vitally important when it comes to growing our economy and UK productivity and our own practitioners, scientists, engineers and designers regularly collaborate to address global health concerns.

“Our Health Innovation Park, at the heart of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park aims to co-locate research and innovation alongside education, health, leisure and business and will be a model of urban development that will drive economic growth, health improvements and community wellbeing.”

Sacha Romanovitch, CEO at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “At Grant Thornton, we know that doing well by doing good makes business sense and believe that leaders embracing this ethos deserve to be championed. That’s why we launched the Faces campaign – to celebrate individuals who exemplify the Vibrant Economy movement, which aims to shape an environment where people, organisations and communities thrive.

“From jet aircraft manufacturers, farmers, local government leaders dance school principals; our Faces share the same commitment to make a positive impact. For many of these leaders, clear purpose is the North Star, helping them to navigate and make the right decisions in the longer term. Being purpose-led in this way involves a fundamental mind-set shift from ‘what I can do’, towards ‘what we collectively can do’. 

“By celebrating these remarkable leaders, we recognise their role in developing a more purposeful and innovative business environment. They show us how business can be done through ‘human’ leadership which nurtures talent.  They provide examples to inspire other business leaders and the next generation to shape a Vibrant Economy. They demonstrate that profits with purpose lead to sustainable business, and show us that it’s not only possible, but also necessary, to do well by doing good.”

The 2018 Faces have become part of a wider community that is now 300-strong. The community connects leaders with similar mind-sets and missions, who may otherwise never meet. It gives an opportunity to share ideas and insights, as well as learn from each other.