A FARNBOROUGH man has swapped serious scientific study for fame and fortune after taking the lead in Europe’s largest science and technology organisation’s first ever national advertising campaign.

Dr Mike Harrison, 56, of Empress Avenue, is a physiologist working for Qinetiq but now he is also to step into the limelight by featuring on billboards and in the newspapers.

The Qinetiq campaign, launched this week, will see Mr Harrison and other employees featuring in the national press, outdoor posters, liveried taxis, and in the trade press —using titles in the energy, transport, health, defence and telecoms, media and electronics sectors — as well as online.

After initially being asked to put forward names to take part in the advertising campaign, Mr Harrison was surprised to be offered a leading role himself.

He said: “It’s very exciting and also an honour because one is representing one’s company and it’s quite a significant responsibility. So often advertising campaigns don’t reflect much to do with the business – ours uses real scientists in real situations. As a scientist I’m used to speaking to the media about my own area of expertise — aviation medicine — but now I’m talking about the work of the company.”

Mr Harrison, whose work involves studying how the body responds to extreme circumstances, has worked for the Ministry of Defence since 1967.

This brought him to Qinetiq, which was formerly part of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), and now he will lead the campaign which also includes other Qinetiq employees.

Recognised for its extensive history of innovation, the campaign sets the challenge for businesses to test Qinetiq employees by asking ‘Is there something impossible we can do for your company?’ and stating ‘Until 7,000 scientist agree it’s impossible, you should probably assume it isn’t.’

Mr Harrison said: “It’s a very new organisation and there’s a lot of people who haven’t heard the name before. The aim of this campaign is to get our name more widely known and put it before the key people of the companies that could benefit from our expertise.”

Any companies wishing to put Qinetiq to the test can contact them via the dedicated phone number 08700 100 942, or through the website at www.QinetiQ.com/testus.