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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.

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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Heather Wright
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Heather Wright

Heather brings an extensive 25-year track record of hands-on experience at board level, driving the development and management of growing companies. Best known as the former Director of Partner Content at Aardman Animations, she played a pivotal role in the company's transformative journey from a small animation production company to becoming one of the UK's largest independent global film studios.

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Heather Wright

In her subsequent roles as an Independent Consultant and an Innovate UK Innovation Growth Specialist, Heather has leveraged her expertise to support over 150 (and counting) companies spanning diverse sectors, including software/AI, manufacturing, green energy, XR & immersive technology, agritech, and biotech. Her passion lies in catalysing growth and fostering innovation, steering organisations toward ambitious goals through meticulously crafted strategic plans.

Heather excels at translating vision into actionable strategies, encompassing elements such as vision, mission, purpose, strategic goals & objectives, and implementation roadmaps. She has a proven track record of developing and delivering strategic partnerships, showcasing expert negotiation skills and closing impactful deals.

Adept at optimising governance structures, Heather focuses on refining board and company setups to ensure transparency, accountability, and effective decision-making. Her approach is characterised by a creative problem-solving mindset, questioning boundaries, and exploring unconventional solutions—a key driver behind her successful career.

Heather's personal style is characterised by informality, pragmatism, and friendliness. She values questioning the status quo and seeks out unconventional solutions.

Away from the office, Heather enjoys spending time in the good company of family and friends. Her heart lies in pursuits such as walking, cooking, and gardening, although she laments never having enough time to indulge in any of these passions as much as she'd like.

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Henry Murch
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Henry Murch

Henry has 16 years of experience as a lead adviser in a boutique corporate finance practice. Typically he works with companies that turnover between £2m and £20m as part of a small team specialising in advising on mergers and acquisitions, management buy-outs and fund raising. Funding sources include bank, alternative lenders, specialist debt funds, private equity and high net worth individuals.

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Henry Murch

Clients have included owner managers, family businesses, management teams, listed PLC’s, private equity and venture capitalists. Transactions have included a number of cross border deals with US buyers, sellers and investors.

Alongside his Corporate Finance work Henry has advised on Access to Finance schemes, investor readiness programs and administered capital grant funding programs. The programs have included GrowthAccelerator as an Access to Finance Growth Manager for Grant Thornton and Sheffield City Region Growth Hub.

More recently Henry has been involved in turnaround and rescue finance with a focus on Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVA’s).

Since 2014 Henry has been a Non-Executive Director for Charles Faram & Co Ltd. Charles Faram is a high growth private Hop Merchant business sourcing hops from around the world and selling to breweries in over 50 different countries. In this time sales have doubled to circa £40m, overseas subsidiaries have been opened in the US, Canada & Poland.  The business has been refinanced and implemented new accounting systems (SAP).

When not at work Henry has recently followed his son into the world of cricket. They have played together for Retford Cricket Club and Henry has imparted his cricket knowledge and enthusiasm via the All-Stars Cricket programme for 5-8 year olds. His daughter is also trying to encourage him in the field of indoor climbing.

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Ian Sterritt
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Ian Sterritt

Ian has over 30 years’ experience successfully commercialising disruptive innovation within both established and fast-growing companies.  His innovation commercialisation expertise began through launching Sat Nav with Philips Electronics in the 1990s.

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Ian Sterritt

This was followed with the world’s first taxi-hailing app with London Taxi International & Vodafone (pre-dating Uber by some 8 years) before founding the i-Qube innovation consultancy and serving as the Intellectual Property Office’s regional policy lead. He has broad knowledge across several technologies and industries − from electronics and software to manufacturing in the automotive and food and drink sectors. Ian lead the buy-out of a former I-Qube client’s business following the MD/Owner’s fatal road accident; dealing with multi-national food businesses (Mars, Unilever, Arla etc.) to add to similar commercial partnership negotiations with telecoms (taxi hailing with Vodafone, O2) and Automotive (e.g. Ford, Toyota, Volvo, Rolls Royce etc.).  Innovation projects have ranged from software solutions for the emergency services to supporting the commercialising of several PhD research projects. 

A track history of creating winning business strategies, innovation practice, securing funding, building collaborations, and managing a diverse Intellectual Property portfolio. Ian’s key areas of expertise are Corporate Strategy, Route to Market and IP commercialisation. His network is extensive, if he hasn’t personal experience of particular sectors or technologies, he can normally short-cut to someone who has.

Living near Bakewell gives Ian great opportunities to extend his gym fitness sessions with regular access of the Peak District’s walking and cycling routes from his own doorstep.

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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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John Hesketh
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John Hesketh

John’s career spans both 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 both publicly and privately funded groups.

He has worked for a number of blue-chip organisation, including Shell UK, Royal Bank of Scotland and also publicly funded bodies such as Heritage Lottery Fund and a former Training and Enterprise Council. International experience includes working within the UK but also across Europe and the Middle East managing existing business portfolios and developing new commercial opportunities.

John’s corporate finance experience has been gained through structuring of large ticket asset backed finance transactions, which has included the use of securitisation; syndicated loans; Tax based leasing; and, debt and /or equity instruments. He has also raised early-stage investment in a number of start-ups and has been an investor in a number of other early-stage ventures.

Throughout his career he has had engagement with the development of Critical National Infrastructure, either in energy or health and more latterly the Defence and Security sectors. He has initiated and led consortia that have delivered over £1bn of property and Infrastructure assets over the last 27 years.

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.

John hold a BA(Hons) in Business with Marketing, and an MSc. in Real Estate development and Investment (with distinction).
 

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Malcolm Harold
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Malcolm Harold

Malcolm brings to the team over 30 years’ experience in design, innovation, materials and manufacturing in over 34 countries.  His experience is from both the private and public sectors.

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Malcolm Harold

In 2013 and 2014, he was the Innovate UK program manager for the KTN for the consolidation of 15 KTN’s into the 1 KTN it is today. 

Having worked with Sir Terence Conran on many commercial contracts and an SME, he subsequently led a team at Warwick Manufacturing Group on design led new product development £6.4 M program for UK manufacturing. 

He is highly focused on commercialising new products and frequently pivots companies into new more profitable markets and associated strategic realignment.  

Having spent 11 years in the international manufacturing consultancy team at the University of Warwick, Warwick Manufacturing Group, led by Professor Lord Bhattacharyya: he worked in a broad range of industry sectors. Fieldwork and research for his MBA thesis was undertaken in India and China.  

His Technology Strategy Board, Materials KTN and Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining (IOM3) experience enabled him to support wider innovation, materials and manufacturing sector needs. 

He has helped raise investment through the Business Expansion Scheme (BES) for a high growth SME  with significant exports that is still thriving 30 years on.  

With Innovate UK and BEIS, and using lessons learned from companies as far away as Japan, he has played a significant role in business support infrastructure development, including the establishment of a UK national tool to assist companies adopting Industry 4.0 principles.  

As part of his beyond net-zero commitment, design and resource efficiency, Malcolm was Chairman of the Natural Materials Association (NMA) for the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3).

In addition to the Scaleup Programme role and coaching, Malcolm has interests in agriculture, cycling, wildlife, conservation, low energy heating solutions and water-sports, some of which he enjoys with his children.

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Mark Harrison
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Mark Harrison

Mark has been a Scaleup Director since January 2022. A technologist, specialising in Commercialisation and Productization of Innovation with a focus on SaaS based businesses.

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Mark Harrison

Leaving his native North-East in the Mid 80’s to move to Frankfurt then Munich, Mark worked as a programmer at the European and German National Space programs for 10 years on numerous satellite projects as well as Space Shuttle Missions and the International Space Station Columbus. He received a NASA achievement award for his work on the ROSAT X-Ray telescope mission.

From there he moved to Brussels and into telecommunications and transitioned from technical to the commercial side of the business and within 4 years was Exec VP Sales & Marketing for a major Global telecommunications operator, living and working in New York.

After three other stations in Senior Sales & Marketing roles in global telecommunications companies, Mark moved into consultancy with PA Consulting running a start up from PA Labs which was one of the first mobile advertising applications a joint venture with Saatchi and Saatchi where he operated as head of mobile technology.

Starting his own software house and filling both CEO and CTO roles, built an ecommerce and white label dating platform, which was rolled out in 15 languages and operates in 35 countries worldwide. Having grown annual revenues to €15m Mark exited the business, then returning to his native North-East to start a business refurbishing and selling off lease PC’s and laptops growing revenue to £2.5m in the third year.

Further consultancy engagements took him to the US and London, before Mark again returned to the North-East to run the commercial operations of a SaaS Cloud based FP&A platform.

An excellent communicator, he will identify what is important and what is not, quickly developing a strategy a clear vision of how to move things forward. Mark is a fluent German speaker.

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Mark Kane
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Mark Kane

Mark’s early career was in Banking before moving into Investment Management. Mark has managed operational teams from large to small through periods of great change in two of the UK’s most well-known wealth management companies.

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Mark Kane

Mark was responsible for managing an ISA plan that was worth several billion pounds, and for an investment helpdesk which administered investments for clients worth hundreds of millions of pounds. He has an Executive MBA, is a fully qualified ILM 7 coach and mentor, served on the board of trustees of a FTSE 250 company pension scheme and was the operational lead for an award winning online discretionary investment service.

After a successful 20-year period in financial services Mark took the decision to set up his own coaching, consulting and advisory peer board business.  Through this he brought business owners and leaders of independently owned companies together in a group setting, similar to a board of directors, where they helped each other to identify opportunities and solve challenges they each face in their own companies. 

Mark supports and coaches his clients through tailored 1-2-1 senior leadership support to assist with strategic planning, operational excellence, exit planning, business sales, change management, team related and leadership challenges.

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Molly Price Jones
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Molly Price Jones

Molly has had a 40-year career in life science and medical diagnostics, starting her career as a research scientist in academia.

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Molly Price Jones

She moved into R&D in industry and progressed from being a bench scientist to becoming the managing director of Gen-Probe Cardiff Ltd (now Hologic), taking it from the manufacturing of life science kits to being an ISO 13485 certified GMP facility, producing CE marked IVD kits, and turning over £2 million per annum. Her work in industry also includes time spent with The Boots Company (Industrial Division), Amersham International and GE Healthcare.

Her experience has given her an in-depth understanding of the process of taking ideas from the lab, through the development and testing process, to obtaining a CE mark, and she knows at first hand the different expertise and skill sets required to bring about scale up. She has helped SMEs to introduce a culture of quality into their organisations and obtain ISO 9001, ISO 13485 and ISO 17025 certifications, and appreciates the challenges of introducing a quality management system into very small organisations. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she worked with a range of companies who were new to the industry to help them develop rapid virus diagnostic tests, gain CE marks for PPE and achieve ISO 13485 certification to manufacture medical devices.

She was a registered radioactive worker for 30 years and worked on a nuclear site for 13 years, covering the role of site Duty Officer, so she understands the requirements for working with radioactivity and managing a nuclear installation.

Molly has a first degree in Applied Biology and a PhD in biochemistry from Cardiff University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. She is a member of their employer advisory group and degree accreditation panel, as she is keen to raise awareness of the wide range of job opportunities in science.  She is also passionate about dispelling the myth that scientists cannot be good managers, or good communicators, and enjoys mentoring them into management and leadership roles. 

Away from the ‘day job’, Molly is a keen horsewoman and an active member of her local riding club and British Dressage. She competes her Fjord horse in dressage competitions at local, regional and national level. She is also an occasional contributor to BBC Radio Wales.
 

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Neil 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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Nicola Penfield
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Nicola Penfold

Graduating with a degree in Environmental Science Nicola then spent much of her early career working in the electronics sector in the UK and Canada specialising in high end audio, defence projects and wireless communications. Nicola engaged with clients and OEMs in UK and Europe, North America, Japan and South Korea.

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Nicola Penfold

For the past 15 years Nicola has worked with Governments, innovation consultancies, large corporates and small tech companies to advise exciting, growing companies in primarily the manufacturing and technology sectors. Nicola has also managed teams of export specialists and worked with her own clients to develop and execute their international strategies. She has extensive knowledge of technology exports particularly to Europe, North America and Japan. 

Through her experience working with highly innovative companies Nicola is an advocate for strong IP management within companies. After taking exams with WIPO and working with the UKIPO Nicola became an Ambassador to the EU IPR Helpdesk in 2010 and continues in this role raising awareness of the importance of IP to SMEs.

For the last 18 months Nicola has been working with companies on their ESG and sustainability strategies and has just completed the Leading Sustainable Corporations course at Said Business School, Oxford University.

Nicola enjoys gardening, sailing and running.
 

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What our clients say about us

Mark Hewitt of 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

Innovate UK
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