Cooksey embarked on a career as an industrial engineer, rising through the management of the company Formica International, and finally leading the management buy-out of a subsidiary in 1971.
In 1981 he formed Advent Venture Partners, one of the first venture capital firms in the United Kingdom, which provided financing for technology-based businesses. He remained chairman until September 2006. He was the first chairman of the British Venture Capital Association (1983/4) and chairman of the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (2005/6).
Cooksey was chairman of the Audit Commission from 1986 to 1995 and in 1996 as chairman of the Local Government Commission for England, proposed the introduction of unitary authorities in many areas of England. In 2003 Cooksey was appointed to chair the Biosciences Industry Growth Taskforce by HM Treasury and the DTI and issued the report "Biosciences 2015" that year. He revised and reissued the report in 2009. In 2006 he published the Cooksey Review of UK health research for HM Treasury which led to a new funding structure and approach to medical research in the UK. It also paved the way to new approaches to pharmaceutical licensing.
Sir David was a director of the Bank of England from 1994 until 2005, including a period as Chairman of Directors from 2001. He was a Governor of the Wellcome Trust from 1995 to 1999, and was Chairman of the Board of Directors at Diamond Light Source Ltd from its formation in 2002 until September 2008. He was chairman of the Francis Crick Institute from 2009 to August 2017. He was Pro Chancellor of the University of Southampton from 2009-2013.
Awards and honours
He was knighted in 1993. He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2007 for public service. He has received Honorary Degrees from University College London, University of Southampton and Kingston University and he has Honorary Fellowships at The Academy of Medical Sciences, University of Wales, Cardiff University, Imperial College London, King's College London and the British Science Association. He was elected Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 2020.
- "David Cooksey". seh.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
- "Officers of the University of Southampton 2009/10".
- "Outstanding scientists elected as Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society 29 April 2020".
- Our Board of Directors, Diamond Light Source Ltd
- The Private Equity Awards Hall of Fame
- Sir David Cooksey: The yacht can wait until the £1.3bn health research spend is shipshape The Independent, 23 April 2006
- Curriculum Vitae, European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association
- "Queen's Birthday Honours 2007" (PDF). (476 KiB), BBC News