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Meet the Scaleup Directors who'll help you

Our team have impressive credentials. When you enrol in the programme you’ll have a designated Scaleup Director, but access to all of them.
Mark, Director of ICAX with his Scaleup Director, Steve, at its proof of concept.

Meet our Scaleup Directors, who work with clients on the Scaleup Programme.

Adrian Allen
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Adrian Allen

Adrian brings to the team over 30 years’ experience in product development, intellectual property management, and investment support for SMEs.

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Adrian Allen

Specialising in Design for Manufacture and Assembly and integrated product development, Adrian has assisted companies from hardware and software start-ups, to managing the IP portfolio of a multi-million-pound organisation.  

Having worked with leading design consultants in Denmark, user-centred design is second nature.  He has a passion for helping businesses develop practical, efficient, solutions, and is adept at identifying innovative commercialisation models and routes to market.  Adrian also helps companies raise investment.  

Previously he has played a significant role in business support infrastructure development, including the establishment of a regional proof of concept fund, setting up and managing an incubator, launching a Knowledge Transfer Programme (KTP) service, and working with multiple stakeholders to establish a new business park.

In addition to innovation and Scaleup Programme roles, Adrian also manages the UKIPO IP Audit grants scheme for London.

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Aldo De Leonibus
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Aldo De Leonibus

Aldo is an experienced entrepreneur, business owner and investor. He is currently the director, shareholder/investor in 10 businesses that span from business support, renewable energy, residential and commercial property, food, accountancy, HR, and IT and across multiple countries. 

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Aldo De Leonibus

Aldo has a strong ethical vision of business and for this reason, he founded a company to support the development and commercialisation of innovative products and services that have a positive impact on society, the environment and humanity and to support the growth and international expansion of technology-based businesses.

Over the 17 years’ work experience in growing and scaling businesses, Aldo worked directly with over 200 businesses supporting their scaleup journey, their entry and expansion in national and international markets and in raising more than £45m of finance. 

Through the growth of his businesses and client support, Aldo gained practical knowledge of growth business models, commercialisation, internationalisation, sales, finance, and growth strategies. 

Aldo was instrumental in the creation of the Innovate UK Scaleup Programme incorporating the best practices and methodologies gained over the course of this professional career. 

Aldo has a technical background in Mechanical Engineering (MEng) and a Master in Entrepreneurship (MEnt) from Alliance Manchester Business School. He has lived and worked in the US, UK, France, and Italy and is fluent in four languages. 

During his spare time, Aldo enjoys travelling, reading, downhill mountain biking, skiing, horse riding and pretty much any other activity that can be done outdoors. Above all Aldo loves spending time with family. 
 

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Angela Hodgson
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Angela Hodgson

Angela has 15 years practical experience of transformation and innovation, she specialises in Organisational Development, Strategy formulation and strategic change management.  Her experience is complemented by her first-class honours degree in Business Information Systems and Post Graduate Diploma in Business Improvement.  
 

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Angela Hodgson

Angela has worked across both the private and public sectors supporting larger organisations and SMEs.  She is sector agnostic having previously worked within automotive, software development, maintenance, housing, local government, and charity organisations.  

For the last 9 years, Angela was part of the Senior Leadership Team at Bentley Motors driving forward transformational change globally. Throughout her career, Angela has won multiple external awards including Global PMO of the year, Best HR Impact, Best Change Management Initiative and Contribution to the Community.

Angela has a personable style and likes to build relationships with businesses to really understand them.  She is passionate about people and helping businesses to maximise talent within their own organisation to drive exponential growth.  She collaboratively uses a range of tools to identify areas for improvement and develop innovative future strategies.  She acts as a Coach to businesses to embed improved capability and consistent usage of innovation tools to drive repeatable business success.   

Angela is also passionate about helping charities in terms of fundraising, helping them to shape future strategies and volunteering her time.  She also volunteers to provide coaching and mentoring to nurture future talent.  

Angela is a Scaleup Director on the Innovate UK Scaleup Programme.  She actively supports a range of business to implement impactful and sustainable change.

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Charles Ward
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Charles Ward

A business graduate, Charles has 30+ years commercial experience across a variety of industry sectors and has been coaching and facilitating regularly since 2014. 

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Charles Ward

His career includes marketing and sales roles with multi-nationals 3M Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson and De La Rue leading to senior European positions in Digital and Compaq. In the latter cases driving the pivot from technology to service-based propositions which involved leading on major change programmes. In 2000 Charles became director of techUK, the industry body for the UK’s ICT sector, delivering services to 850 member companies, mostly SME’s.

Charles’ business coaching credentials are derived from his time at techUK through working with a variety of businesses, professional advisors, and investors.  During this period, he led several business growth initiatives that provided him with a unique insight into the performance drivers and KPIs of successful tech SMEs as well as deep understanding of common scaling challenges.  In parallel he has been an advisor to New Zealand Trade & Enterprise since 2005 supporting over 30 globally ambitious Kiwi companies with UK and European market entry.  

With go-to-market strategy and internationalisation as areas of expertise Charles applies business design thinking to the core management priorities in helping clients to create fit-for-purpose business models for rapid growth.  

Charles is well-networked and has had spells working in the US, Switzerland, and South Africa. His style is collaborative and collegiate yet challenging when needed.

Charles is an active NED of an IoT software development company targeting international defence and health sectors; itself starting the scale-up journey.  He also has interests in MedTech as well as a niche food delivery platform founded by his entrepreneurial daughters.  Charles is a keen sports follower and, in his heyday, captained amateur cricket and football teams.

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Chris Ellis
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Chris Ellis

Working out of St John’s Innovation Centre, Cambridge, Chris has been a Scaleup Director since August 2019 and brings to IUK EDGE four decades of brand-building, marketing acumen and commercial strategy development experience, supporting global brands and scaling SMEs with agency and client-side directorships. 

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Chris Ellis

He ran his own marketing consultancy for 11 years and has a mMBA in Marketing. He has also studied at Cranfield Business School.

Chris has held interim Marketing Director roles with several businesses in fintech, construction and cold chain sectors, and has extensive experience of working with food brands, financial services and enterprise technology/SaaS providers, investing in one venture which AIM-listed.

When not supporting innovation-led businesses at work, Chris is a keen golfer and has twice served on the management committee of Ely City Golf Club where he has been a member for 30 years.

Chris moved to the Cambridge area after an early career in a leading London publishing company, Centaur Communications, where he played a central role in the launch of DesignWeek Magazine – sister title to Marketing Week.

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Chris Price-Jones
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Chris Price-Jones

Chris has 45 years’ experience in manufacturing, leading and being part of Research and Development teams turning ideas into commercial reality in both large corporates and SMEs.

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Chris Price-Jones

His ethos and approach to scaleup is that it is best characterised as a team activity, the most multidisciplinary initiative any company can undertake.

He started his career as part of the Boots Company management development programme. Chris joined the company in 1975, shaping his interest in innovation, development and scale-up.

Chris has managed scaleup projects from “bench to board” level, for blue-chip companies such as Boots, Cadbury, Beecham, Callard & Bowser Group and Leaf Group. He has managed truly transformational growth projects, including taking Smith Kendon to become Callard and Bowser Group (from 100 to 2000 people).

He is chairman of BIC Innovation, who have been helping companies to “scaleup” for over 15 years, turning ideas into something tangible that is of real commercial value. He is an MRSB, MILM, and gained most of his management training through corporate programmes, additionally trained in achieving world-class manufacturing standards.

As a University Lecturer in Innovation, Chris has a deep understanding of the skills and people challenges that being a scaleup business brings.

Even for relaxation, Chris is interested in how things work - so restores motorcycles and cars in his spare time. He is a keen biker and has been known to indulge in a track day burn or two!

He also follows rugby and cricket and helps to look after the family menagerie of 3 horses and 2 dogs.
 

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Chris Speakman
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Chris Speakman

Chris specialises in Business Development and Marketing Strategy, Finance Strategy and Leadership Development, with a Senior Management career spanning over 25 years within both Corporate and SMEs. Having held positions including Head of Operations, Head of UK Sales, Head of Risk, Operations Director and Director of Business Development, Chris brings his wealth of knowledge in building successful Corporate Divisions and SMEs to complement our Scaleup Director Team.

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Chris Speakman

Initially a Building Surveyor, Chris moved into Finance, leading the key Joint Ventures division within the Bank of Scotland, working alongside, and growing partnerships with Scania, Heidelberg, JCB and Barclays. In Underwriting Finance for the likes of Porsche and Ferrari Maranello, he progressed to managing Risk within three years, holding a personal £1m and joint £10m mandate. Chris then accepted the challenge of building two businesses within ICT; a c£1.2m Turnover SaaS company which he helped grow to over £3.5m and a full Managed Serviced IT business which also grew from c£2m to over £5m.

He progressed in joining BT Business to build an Enterprise Business Division, where he introduced and lead new technical business development teams, processes, procedures, and key partnerships to grow the division from zero base to c£40m Revenue and 34% GM. Chris joined EE’s largest outsource partner to drive them to achieve their ambitious 3 x growth. Heading up their 90 seat North West Business, under Chris’ leadership they grew to c300 staff, and he introduced a new management structure, implementing 10 Sales and Service Managers, 5 Operation Managers and 200 Account Managers. Turnover increased threefold.

As a current Director of Business Development, he believes strongly in growing successful partnerships, delivering the right values in driving the right culture, and supplementing these with a clear strategy, direction, and support.

Out of work, Chris spends his time with his two wonderful children, Olivia and Daniel, and family, becoming quite the den builder along the way. In believing he has already experienced the heights that Manchester United are going to reach in the foreseeable future, he now only attends a couple of games a season.
 

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Emma Douglas-Beet
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Emma Douglas-Beet

Emma has co-founded several businesses over the last 18 years, including a Marketing Agency, Grant Support organisation and Equity Investment (Investment Readiness) business. Through her knowledge of sales and marketing, she has not only supported founders to launch, scale and grow new innovations, but also guided them to secure over £20m equity funding from Angels, funds, and crowdfunding platforms. Over the last few years, she has built a black book of investors and has personally worked with 100’s of companies over her career.

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Emma Douglas-Beet

Emma’s core skills include access to finance, sales and marketing and building partnerships for growth. As an ex-business owner, she understands the ups and downs of the business journey and is an empathetic advocate of the founders she has supported, based on real life experience.   

Her ability to connect individuals has led to many long-term partnerships built up over the years. Emma has organised events that connected over 1200+ businesses, Angel Investment Summits, Pitch events and has reviewed 1000’s of investment decks. Her deep understanding of what investors want to see and hear makes her not only a great all-round mentor but also the potential key to unlocking your next fund raise.

Having joined Innovate UK Business Growth when it was known as EEN in Nov 2019, her knowledge of the Government's landscape of support, both financial and actual, has grown tenfold. This has led to several of her clients unlocking hard to find funding that is not always visible to the general viewer.

Emma has two children, Phoebe (11 years) and Sophie (10 years), a Dogue de Bordeaux (Turner & Hooch dog) and is a very keen cook, having graduated from the famous Prue Leith Cookery School.

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Heather Abrahams
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Heather Abrahams

Heather has over 25 years’ experience in senior roles within both the private and public sectors. Her roles have included Client Development Consultant, Commercial Manager, Regional Business Development Manager, Account Director, Programme Director, and Investment Executive with organisations such as Capita, Logica, HSBC, QPC Group, Welsh Government, and the Development Bank of Wales.

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Heather Abrahams

In her current role as an Innovation & Growth Advisor with BIC Innovation Ltd, Heather helps businesses to identify barriers to growth and overcome innovation challenges to scale internationally. 

She is passionate about supporting SME’s reach their full potential and has great admiration for the dedication and tenacity inherent in these businesses.

Heather’s key personal successes include securing an £8m contract providing a next-generation wide area network for six Local Government partners and securing substantial sales for a first to market software solution for the global telecoms market whilst working for a UK scaleup company. 

Having assisted many SMEs to access funding including Angel, debt, mezzanine, and equity investment as well as her experience gained working at a senior level in a scaleup company, Heather understands the challenges from both an institutional investor and scaleup company perspective and is ideally placed to assist the companies on the scaleup programme.

Heather is a member of CIPP and CIPFA. 

In her spare time, Heather enjoys spending time with family, yoga, playing the saxophone, walking, and researching local history.
 

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Jim Doherty
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Jim Doherty

Jim is a focused and commercially experienced finance professional having worked in both small and large organisations within the SME sector. With over 25 years’ experience of financial delivery both at senior management and board-level Jim brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the need for strategic financial planning and delivery. His roles have been varied and cover multiple sectors.

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Jim Doherty

Key skillsets and knowledge base are centred around financial management, processes, and planning. Jim understands and appreciates the financial needs of SME’s, managing internal and third-party stakeholders as well as a deep knowledge and experience of the corporate finance world. Jim has a significant network of contacts covering all sources and types of funding including Angel networks, HNW individuals, Venture Capital firms, Private Equity, Debt providers and the ever-growing Alternative Finance sector. 

Jim can deliver both strategically and in a “hands-on” way helping scaleup companies to formulate and develop financial modelling for funding as well as offering a high degree of expertise in deploying financial strategies.

Jim understands the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and their team having founded a lift manufacturing company in his late 20’S, growing to 45 employees, 2 million turnovers within eighteen months, clients included Thyssen, Kone, Otis, Fujitec, Mitsubishi and Schindler. 

Jim has been instrumental as an SME Finance Director, in closing significant funding rounds from a variety of providers.

Jim also has interests in two technology companies having helped them to achieve early-stage seed and series A funding. Jim has a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Sheffield Hallam University.

Jim has five wonderful children (mostly adults now) and a beautiful granddaughter whom he dotes on. Other interests away from work include Ornithology, a passion for reading and ongoing learning and Liverpool Football Club supporter.
 

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Jim Tunstall
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Jim Tunstall

Jim is an experienced business executive, entrepreneur, and business advisor. He has over 35 years of main board experience in large corporate and SME environments, holding CEO, Managing Director, Commercial Director, Divisional Director and Sales & Marketing Director roles with organisations including Paperlinx, Reed Elsevier, Bunzl plc and Stora Enso Oy.

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Jim Tunstall

Additionally, Jim has served on the Supervisory Board of the £2 billion turnover distribution division of a major global paper manufacturing and distribution group, defining best practice, advising on education, and monitoring performance.

Subsequently, Jim built his own small group of SME companies from a zero base to over £10 million turnover and has experienced the high and lows of developing a business in often unforgiving economic and political environments. 

Accordingly, he has great empathy with entrepreneurs and business owners for the challenges they face, particularly in navigating the often confusing and complex business support landscape.

A multi-disciplined executive and sector agnostic, Jim adopts a holistic approach to business growth and development, operating as a generalist practitioner and catalyst bringing constructive objectivity, and adding real value. Specialisms include Strategy, Leadership Development, and Commercialisation.

Jim holds a first degree in education (BEd Hons) from Lancaster University (1972), an HND in Paper and Printing Technologies (1975), and an MBA from the University of Salford (2010). 

A Fellow of the Institute of Paper, Printing and Publishing, Jim is a certified and accredited behavioural analyst and practitioner (TTI Success Insights DISC) and business coach, with a commitment to both life-long learning and promoting authentic leadership. 

Relaxation these days for Jim involves his four adorable grandchildren, following all sport, playing duplicate contract bridge and high stakes rubber bridge, and both supporting and lamenting his beloved Manchester United. 
 

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Joanne Phoenix
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Joanne Phoenix

Joanne has a passion for helping technology-based and IP-rich companies and over the last 20 years has worked in a variety of consultancy and business support roles which have all revolved around helping companies position themselves for growth and access to funding. 

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Joanne Phoenix

She has nine years of academic research experience; industrial product development experience (senior scientist, clinical nutrition company SHS International); strategic business development and multiple Board experiences with VC-backed start-ups and is familiar with all aspects of the challenges faced by high growth potential technology and IP-based businesses. 

As a specialist Business Consultant, experienced CEO and Board Director, Joanne works with early-stage SMEs, start-ups, organisations seeking growth and University spinouts. With a strong network of contacts, Joanne has successfully built and supported operations in both private and public sectors in fields as diverse as medical devices, educational software to consumer beauty products and latterly established the Liverpool University Enterprise Zone, Sensor City, where sensor developments, big data, AI, and Smart City approaches were all part of the day-to-day activities.  

As CEO, she was responsible for the first commercially available automated diagnostic for diabetic eye disease; helped to deliver the Access to Funding Growth Accelerator programme as Growth Manager in the North West and was part of the Life Science team at BAFI. She has created strategy and business plans, delivered commercial support, raised funds, and put the vital relationships in place for organisations to achieve growth, harness competitive advantage and achieve profit.  Her approach to supporting companies is one of friendly challenge and her key strengths are in identifying opportunities and positioning for fundraising. 

Joanne holds first (BSc Joint Hons Medical Cell Biology and Biochemistry) and second degrees (PhD, Dept of Medicine) from the University of Liverpool and is continually immersing herself in new technologies and ideas through her work as Non-Executive Investment Director on behalf of Deepbridge Capital and as an External Board Observer with the Technology Venture Investments team of Development Bank of Wales. 

Relaxation for Joanne is firmly rooted in walks in nature, particularly in North Wales, and indulging her creative side with painting. 
 

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Ian Donald
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Neil Donald

Neil started his career at GEC Alstom, obtaining a degree in Microelectronics & Microprocessor Design Engineering from Salford University. He then joined Lucas Automotive as a manufacturing engineer, adding process engineering to his skills set (Kaizen, Kanban, JIT, Lean 6-Sigma and Cell Manufacturing).

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Neil Donald

A move into consumer electronics saw Neil transition into a European Sales & Marketing role at TDK FAS, working with brands incl. Sony, Toshiba, Nokia, Motorola, JVC, Ericsson, Sharp and Pace Microelectronics.

From there Neil applied his skills-set to the printing & packaging industry (conventional & digital), progressing up the value-chain into the Brand Marketing industry. This move coincided with the proliferation of digital consumer-facing technologies, giving Neil a distinct advantage in this emerging discipline.

Now working as an independent consultant, Neil was able to combine his expertise in technology, complex process mapping, marketing content creation, sales activation strategies and behavioural economics to deliver holistic and transformational client solutions.

Neil guided leading B2B & B2C brands on the implementation of impactful and sustainable change, the likes of Xerox, Royal Mail, ASDA, Lloyd’s Banking Group, NHS & Pets at Home benefitting from his insights on digital transformation (DX) projects.

Simultaneously, Neil recognised the need to nurture the next generation of innovative UK businesses and is a long-time advocate for this, working in a voluntary capacity for several incubator / accelerator programs, sacrificing professional and personal time to act as Mentor for innovation start-ups. This passion burns strong as ever, with Neil now providing the benefit of his experience as a Director on the Innovate UK Scaleup Program.

Neil is a keen volunteer with Canal & River Trust and The Friends of Castleton Station and is often to be found enjoying a ride, a run or just a walk along the banks of the Rochdale Canal.
 

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Paul Jenkinson
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Paul Jenkinson

Paul is an experienced Non-Executive Director, investor, and business advisor. He has a degree in Civil Engineering and an MBA from Manchester Business School. Paul has twenty years’ corporate experience with Blue Circle Cement, BPB Industries, British Gypsum (Plaster & Plasterboard) and Anglian Water in group strategic planning and line management roles. At British Gypsum he led the start-up of a gypsum-based flowing floor screed business. 
 

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Paul Jenkinson

For the last fifteen years, he has worked with many SMEs, helping them with their growth via strategic and business planning, investment readiness and fundraising, with extensive contacts into the Business Angel, Venture Capital, and Crowdfunding markets. 

Paul has worked for Beer & Partners (Business Angel Network) and Connect Midlands, part of Warwick University, which ran investment readiness programmes. He has invested in Shadow Foundr, a crowdfunding business and was, for a period, on their Advisory Board. 

More recently Paul has worked as a consultant and a Non-Executive Director and has to date personally invested in twelve high growth companies. Paul has an interest in SME Board performance and improvement and holds a distinction in the IOD Diploma in Company Direction. 

Paul is an experienced Business Mentor and a Member of the Association of Business Mentors. He is currently studying for an ILM Level 7 (Masters level) qualification in mentoring. He has a passion for helping companies grow and helping entrepreneurs/Directors develop themselves. 

Paul originates from Yorkshire, but lives in exile in Leicestershire, is married, has a border collie and flat-coated retriever, is a keen golfer and flat green bowler. 

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Steve Smith
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Steve Smith

Steve has over 30 years' experience as a technology and business consultant working since the late ’80s at Board level. Steve has worked across Europe and the USA leading technology businesses large and small.

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Steve Smith

Steve has led multi-million-pound fundraising campaigns for and on behalf of a range of diverse, primarily technology businesses - from large fibre management through to computer gaming but also life sciences, education services and manufacturing.

He championed the Digital Sector for the Liverpool City Region helping drive equity investment into high growth companies and acted on behalf of both the Liverpool Seed Fund and Merseyside Special Investment

Fund working closely with the Chief Executive and specialising in the digital and software firms within their portfolio.

Recently he has acted as Interim CEO and Chair for several technology firms including a significant spell with an international software firm.

Steve conceived, developed, and delivered the international pitching event format “Software City” and ran it in Silicon Valley, Boston, London, Helsinki, and Liverpool bringing a wide range of technology businesses to the UK and European investor community.

As well as a broad knowledge set and vast network, Steve has considerable experience in managing relationships at board level. Comfortable at Board and C-suite level Steve offers the Scaleup Board a wide range of experience in growth finance, sales and business development and international expansion.
 

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Viney Chauhan
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Viney Chauhan

Viney is highly passionate about innovative technologies that could have a positive impact on society. Over the last 7+ years, Viney has supported, as an adviser, over 150+ innovative SMEs around innovation, commercialisation, and growth strategies. 
 

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Viney Chauhan

In his current role as Operations Director, Viney is helping the company to address all the issues relating operational functions and keep abreast of latest developments to ensure that the company maintains its competitive position whilst growing regionally and internationally. 

Viney has managed and delivered several multimillion European projects over the last 5 years. He has a demonstrable track record of delivering profitable client partnerships based on building strong working relationships. Adept at articulating critical business challenges, synthesising ideas, and creating innovative strategic plans to exploit business growth opportunities.  

Viney has gained extensive market research experience while working with innovative SMEs. Leveraging the power of data analysis and market research, Viney has facilitated several commercial partnerships between clients and international partners. This includes connecting with one advanced manufacturing client with Ferrari’s Racing Division in Maranello.

In the current Scaleup programme, Viney is supporting clients by providing them with a holistic view of different access to finance schemes available regionally and nationally. Providing investor profiling, pitch deck analysis, and facilitating discussion with Investors for Scaleup clients who are looking to raise money through the equity route. In addition, Viney has helped several innovative SMEs in raising over £7m+ in funding through the Innovate UK and European grants. 

Born and raised in India, he comes from a family of innovative farmers. His academic background: - Bachelors’ in Software Engineering and Masters’ in International Business Management. Cricket is Viney’s religion, avid reader of autobiographies and his moon-shot project is investing in the research of paddy varieties which can grow in every drought-prone area in India. 

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John Hesketh
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John Hesketh

John’s 47-year career spans both the public and commercial sectors including economic development, oil and gas, corporate finance, and commercial real estate and infrastructure development.

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John Hesketh

He has held board level roles as MD, Deputy CEO and in commercial and strategic development functions for a variety of publicly and privately funded groups.

His broad commercial experience includes working within the UK but also across Europe and the Middle East. He has given focus over the last 27 years to development and delivery of major infrastructure projects that result from public-private partnerships or commercial and mixed-use development schemes. In that capacity he has been responsible for creating and delivering projects with a capital value in excess of £1bn, with an emphasis on structuring asset-based finance/leasing.

John’s leadership of projects has demonstrated his capacity and expertise in building and managing often complex partnerships and joint venture working. As a Scale up Director, this is a skill-set that he brings to scaling businesses, supporting strategy development, partnership working, and management of business-critical commercial relationships.

Drawing on his knowledge of commercial and infrastructure development, he has also lectured on undergraduate and postgraduate RICS & CIOB-accredited courses. Having been involved in development of national infrastructure projects, he maintains a strong connection with and interest in this field and also broader defence and security matters.

Alongside his work as a Scaleup Director, John is coordinating the delivery of Innovation and Growth Services (IGS) via a team of Innovation & Growth Specialists on behalf of Innovate UK Business Growth across the SE region. 

John holds a BA(Hons) in Business with Marketing and an MSc. in Real Estate Development and Investment. When time allows, he can either be found restoring modern classic cars or adding to his own car collection. That collection includes a Porsche GT3, Bugatti Chiron, Lamborghini Aventador, and the latest addition, a Ferrari 488 GTE, all of these by courtesy of masters of innovation at LEGO.

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Caroline Elston-Giroud
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Dr Caroline Elston-Giroud

Caroline is a driven consultant and coach with a passion for working with innovative businesses across their entire innovation, growth and funding journey. She has successfully supported businesses of all shapes and sizes including start-ups, established SMEs, large companies, and global corporations. Caroline has nearly 20 years’ experience in innovation consultancy, management and business support roles mainly focused on helping companies to access funding and achieve growth. 

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Dr Caroline Elston-Giroud

Her specialist areas include funding and finance, Horizon grants, intellectual property, investment readiness and collaborative partnerships. She has personally collaborated with hundreds of clients and businesses during her career, obtaining over £100 million of funding, finance and investment. She also has extensive international business experience and contacts throughout France and across Europe.

Caroline has led client engagements across many sectors, with strong experience in fields such as Medtech, healthcare, biotech, industrial biotechnology, clean tech, renewable energies and bio-based industries. 

With a personable style, Caroline loves speaking with people and building relationships both at Board level and across the teams of businesses she collaborates with. Her approach to supporting Senior Leadership teams is as a critical friend to the business.

Caroline previously spent 16 years living and working in France where she completed her PhD in Biology and Biochemistry, and then successfully worked her way up the management consultancy ladder. Caroline loves spending time with family and friends, and in her spare time is often found on walks in the countryside with her husband and kids, usually ending up in a beer garden somewhere. She is regularly amused by friendly enquiries as to whether she has family connections to a certain famous French footballer…

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Craig Kermode
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Craig Kermode

Craig is a driven, knowledgeable and approachable consultant with 25yrs+ experience in B2B solution sales and organisation restructuring. Craig is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and holds a BSc (Hons) in Organisation and Management Studies.

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Craig Kermode

Accustomed to strategic senior leadership roles in fast-moving, environments; including Sales Director and Divisional Sales Director roles for corporate organisations including Konica Minolta, UK Mail Digital (DHL) and Apogee (an HP Company) Craig has a consistent track record of strategizing and structuring sales organisations to deliver exponential growth and revenues of up to £35m.

In his consultancy work he has supported progressive start-ups, SMEs and corporate clients to develop and scale profitable B2B sales functions in an array of sectors.

Specialisms & Knowledge Base:

  • Strategy - ‘GTM' strategies to achieve scale, restructuring and integrating sales teams, products and processes across multiple businesses and markets.
  • Customer Centric – innovating unique selling propositions based on lived experience - from ‘volume & velocity’ Inside Sales to complex 'enterprise' solutions and C-level engagement. From new customer acquisition to fully managed service delivery and retention programming.
  • Commercial – P&L focussed, end-to-end cost and revenue management.
  • People Oriented – Focussed, collaborative and inclusive personal style, passionate about developing winning cultures, training and developing talent.
  • Experienced in an array of sectors including IT, SaaS, Web3, Capital Equipment, Digital Comms, Print/Packaging and Professional Services.

In his spare time Craig loves being with his family and friends, playing the guitar and as an avid gym goer has a keen interest in fitness. He enjoys the outdoors from walking the dog to cycling, climbing, and hiking.

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Deborah Leary
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Prof Deborah Leary

Deborah Leary is a prominent entrepreneur recognized for her contributions in the field of technology and business leadership. With a distinguished career, she has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of forensics and threat intelligence.

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Prof Deborah Leary

Deborah has over 20 years experience of business build, innovation, and internationalisation. Starting initially in the manufacturing sector developing innovative products for law enforcement she continued to lead on innovation and strategy, transitioning into the development of disruptive innovative digital technologies, business intelligence consultancy, cyber and AI technologies focused on threat intelligence.

Throughout this time, she supported and led diverse (commercial and academic) teams focused on innovation ensuring success in a range of UK and international funding bids, including Innovate UK. Consequently, she has been successful in securing several awards both professionally and personally for innovation, business, and international trade.

She has become known for her international trade experience and is an appointed Export Champion for the Department of Trade and Business, with significant connections in the UK and internationally, many at government level.

In 2022 Deborah was made a Visiting Professor of Aston University and in addition holds an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University. In 2008 she was presented with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for Entrepreneurship.

From 2021 – 2023 she was President of the Greater Birmingham Chamber, only the third woman President since 1813. Her themes for her Presidency being international trade and innovation. She is also a board member of the Greater Birmingham Global Chamber of Commerce and a Business Commissioner for the Business Commission West Midlands.

In addition, she is a Board Member of the West Midlands Innovation Board, Advisory Board Member of the United Nations Global Compact and Advisory Board Member of the All-Parliamentary Party Working Group on Women and Enterprise.

Deborah’s key strengths are within the identification of innovation, challenges to innovation, building collaborations, routes to market, internationalisation strategies, threat and business intelligence, and CSR.

Apart from her Scale Up role, Deborah’s interests include the theatre, music, football and extreme trekking and has also been known to do the odd Stand-Up Comedy routine.

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Dominic O'Regan
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Dominic O'Regan

Dominic is an experienced business development consultant, investor and commercial project developer, with a background in medium and large companies, and currently works mainly with early stage business. His work has been with life science companies (therapeutics, medical device, diagnostics, AI and machine learning), and more recently he has worked with green technology business.

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Dominic O'Regan

Work with established business has included new product development and launch, marketing, senior client service roles, managing insights to produce strategic and tactical business plans and driving multi-stakeholder projects. 

He has worked on deal flow and due diligence for funds. Business development has included business planning that reflects the needs and aspirations of the company, rational platform planning (where technology may be used for multiple uses), obtaining investment from VC’s and angels, grant applications, route to market and introducing strategic partners.  This, combined with his experience in established business, gives him an ability to plan for and drive growth.

Dominic has built a portfolio of 17 angel and 45 early-stage post-IPO investments, which was based on due diligence with several hundred companies.  With several of the investee companies he has a close working relationship, facilitating additional investment and partnerships. He has developed a strong network across commercial and other areas in life science and green technology. 

His approach is very collaborative, putting emphasis on understanding all key aspects of a company, including its product or service, customers, team, ethos and growth plans.  He aims to work closely and interactively with the team, to help ensure the output reflects the need of the business. 

Dominic qualifications include a MA in Marketing, Chartered Institute of Marketing, Physiology and Microbiology DipHE and several vocational certificates.    

Dominic works pro-bono as a company mentor for accelerators.  He has also worked pro-bono for several charities, coordinating marketing plan reviews and service re-design. 

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Elizabeth Soehren
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Elizabeth Soehren

Elizabeth is an organisational development specialist, trainer and coach with over 30 years of experience helping organisations grow and improve performance through the development of their people and processes. Elizabeth has experience as a business owner who has worked with SMEs and large organisations.

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Elizabeth Soehren

Elizabeth is a highly enthusiastic and energetic individual who enjoys the challenge of strategically assisting clients to grow and develop. She has a strong passion for working with people to enable them to become high performers that deliver business results. 

Having a keen interest in psychology and how conversational change can motivate and encourage people to grow, has led Elizabeth to explore and search for effective tools and frameworks to increase awareness, understanding and facilitate change. This passion has led her to become an NLP Trainer qualified in Belbin and MBTI psychometrics. 

She has designed and delivered a wide variety of bespoke consultancy and behavioural based interventions within a range of industries and feels at home working with organisations who want to:

  • Move through organizational transition or change
  • Achieve benefit realisation of culture change projects 
  • Benefit from developing high performing and interdependent teams
  • Improve the utilisation of their performance management processes
  • Improve working in an alliance environment 
  • Understand and improve collaborative working 
  • Facilitate individual, group and organisational alignment

To relax, Elizabeth likes to stretch more than her mind through yoga and enjoys singing in a local choir. She enjoys walking and is always up for a paddle in the sea. 

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Giulia Sirigu
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Giulia Sirigu

Dr Giulia Sirigu is Scale Up Director and Senior Innovation and Growth Specialist for Innovate UK Business Growth at Inventya. Giulia has over 15 years’ experience of developing international strategic relations with Latin America and Europe and enjoys helping clients access innovative international advice. 

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Giulia Sirigu

With a PhD in Foreign Policy and a background in globalisation and global political economy, Giulia is a specialist in internationalisation and business development across several sectors and operates with SMEs and corporates at the global level, providing local and international development consultancy for their business growth. She supports companies developing their internationalisation strategy, narrowing down the steps needed for their international expansion and helping them to find the right funds, brokerage opportunities and connections to thrive at the global level thanks to her broad international network.

Her activities and expertise span from her work for the Italian Trade Agency in Mexico and the UK to her consultancy for international projects, collaborating with Universities, public and private institutions. Currently, she is the Head of the North West office and Project Manager for the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the UK, supporting companies in their internationalisation journey, brokering and developing partnerships between Italy and the UK 

Giulia has extensive knowledge and experience in gender, trade and inclusion. She is a driving force in the Women in Innovation community and part of Innovate UK Business Growth Community of Practice (CoP) Internationalisation and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). The EDI CoP has the task to develop and initiate the deployment of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Strategy for Innovate UK Business Growth.  She is also an active member of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)’s Women in Entrepreneurship and the Agri-tech Sector Group. EEN is the world’s largest support network created by the European commission and implemented by the European Innovation Council, which includes 65+countries and helps SMEs to innovate and grow on an international scale. 

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What our clients say about us

Mark Hewitt ICAX

We’re thriving in a disruptive sector with Innovate UK support. Its strategic input has been invaluable to help grow our business

Mark Hewitt ICAX

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