Dr David Leal-Ayala is Deputy Head of Policy Links, responsible for designing, managing and delivering industrial innovation policy consulting projects and capacity building programmes for civil servants and policy makers.
A manufacturing engineer by training, David provides policy expertise in: industrial technology development and commercialisation; assessment and development of policy recommendations and action plans for strengthening national innovation systems; characterisation of technological, manufacturing and industrial systems; and industrial ecology and sustainability.
David has extensive advisory experience on how to develop effective industrial innovation policy mechanisms for governments and international organisations, including UNIDO, UNDP, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as well as wide regional expertise in Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. He has authored numerous policy reportsand articles and he regularly speaks at high-profile international events such as the Hannover Messe and the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS).
David is actively involved with teaching and supervising in the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos (MET) programme of the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge (“How do companies and governments respond to a changing and complex industrial landscape”). Whenever possible, he also enjoys reviewing scientific papers from international journals including Transactions on Engineering Management, Environmental Science & Technology, and the Journal of Industrial Ecology.
Prior to joining Policy Links, David gained diverse experience running a technology start-up and working in academia and the corporate world.
Between 2013 and 2016 he served as Co-founder and Chief Scientist of Reduse, a Cambridge start-up based on his PhD research which aimed to develop the first ‘Unprinter’ to remove print from paper, later acquired by tech company REEP Technologies. In 2015 David was awarded the “MIT Innovators Under 35” prize from MIT Technology Review for this work, while the scientific research underpinning this start-up was published in numerous articles in internationally leading journals, chapters and patents.
In 2012–15 David joined the Use Less Group at the University of Cambridge as a Research Associate in Industrial Ecology and Sustainability, where he advised UK government organisations such as Innovate UK and the Energy Systems Catapult, as well as regional governments and industry associations in the UK and abroad.
In 2005–07 he worked as an automation engineer with global manufacturers Nemak and Cemex, gaining work experience in Mexico, the UK, Germany, France, Poland and Hungary.
David holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge (2009–12) where he was supervised by Professor Julian Allwood, a Master’s degree in Advanced Manufacturing Technology from the University of Manchester (2007–08), and a Bachelor’s degree in Mechatronics Engineering from Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico (2000–05).
After office hours, David dedicates quite a significant amount of time to his other passions in life: playing guitar, ancient civilization history, football and Formula 1.