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Travel by road

From the M6 travelling northbound, exit at Junction 21, taking the A57 exit to Irlam/Warrington, then take the second exit (roundabout) onto Woolston Grange Ave/B5210. Continue straight and take the exit onto Birchwood Way/A574. At the next roundabout, take the third exit onto Oakwood Gate, take the second exit onto Dewhurst Road. At the roundabout opposite ASDA fuel station take the second exit onto Birchwood Boulevard. Turn left at the T-Junction and first left.

From the M6 travelling southbound, take the exit at Junction 21A onto the M62 signposted for Manchester. Exit the M62 at Junction 11 and take the third exit onto the A574 Birchwood Way and follow the signs for Birchwood Train Station. At the roundabout opposite ASDA fuel station take the second exit onto Birchwood Boulevard. Turn left at the T-Junction and first left.

From the M62 westbound,
take the exit at Junction 11, onto the A574 Birchwood Way and follow the signs for Birchwood Train Station. At the roundabout opposite ASDA fuel station take the second exit onto Birchwood Boulevard. Turn left at the T-Junction and first left.

Travel by rail

Birchwood railway station is within walking distance (half mile) to the office and provides local connections to Warrington Central, Manchester, and Liverpool stations.Warrington Bank Quay railway station provides direct mainline links to London Euston, Glasgow, Carlisle, Liverpool and Preston.For more information visit www.nationalrail.co.uk

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Innovation & Growth Support

Meet our Innovation & Growth Specialists

We understand that innovative businesses have particular needs, that each business is different and that it is important to be able to build a personal relationship where trust can flourish.
Gary Collins
Innovation and Growth Specialist

Gary Collins has an extensive background in the financial services and software industries, focusing specifically on Fintech, SaaS, and Mutual Finance. As a strategic business lead in Fintech and a co-founder of a Fintech startup, Gary has demonstrated exceptional skill in navigating the complexities of the market, identifying emerging trends, and leveraging technological advancements to drive company growth.

With a great understanding of the Fintech landscape, Gary excels in crafting and implementing strategic sales plans that have consistently resulted in business expansion and revenue enhancement. His expertise extends to change management, where he has effectively guided teams towards innovation, significantly improving the customer experience and achieving business objectives.

Gary’s leadership abilities are further evidenced by his success in securing grant funding and expanding his startup team to 15 dedicated professionals. His communication skills are paramount, particularly in negotiation, allowing for effective engagement with a wide range of stakeholders including customers, partners, and investors. Gary’s extensive network, which includes trade associations, financial institutions, and industry partners, has facilitated numerous strategic alliances and collaborative efforts to address digital challenges and enhance product offerings.

A committed business coach and mentor, Gary has spent over 16 years as a chairman and innovative lead within the local charity sector, dedicating his expertise to support local community good causes. His approach is inherently collaborative, strategic, and customer-focused, ensuring the delivery of exceptional value to stakeholders within the Fintech ecosystem.

Louis Lechouritis
Innovation And Growth Specialist
Andrew Kent
Director of Funded Programmes

Andrew has over 16 years' experience of leading publicly funded business support projects to high growth, high-tech SMEs.

Andrew provides innovation and internationalisation advice to clients based in North West England. 

He has particular specialisms in recyclable market development, renewable energy and sustainability.

Andrew excels at supporting companies to develop value propositions and business models.

Andrew North
Senior Innovation & Growth Specialist
Ashley McConnell
Senior Innovation & Growth Specialist

Ashley Dyer-McConnell has a 14-year background in client services, consulting, and innovation. With a decade of experience at a global technology corporation, Ashley has led and contributed to European-wide digital commercialisation projects, particularly within emerging technology sectors.

Ashley's expertise extends beyond commercialisation to include innovation process management, where he utilises agile methodologies to enhance operational efficiencies and foster intrapreneurship programmes. His approach to innovation combines strategic insight with practical execution, enabling the development and optimisation of processes that support the scaling and commercial success of products.

Throughout his career, Ashley has demonstrated his commitment to supporting businesses in understanding and leveraging technology to achieve competitive advantage. His focus on product development and commercialisation, coupled with his skills in process improvement and software development, positions him as a pivotal figure in transforming innovative ideas into viable, market-ready solutions.

Charlotte Ollerton
Senior innovation and growth specialist

With over a decade of experience in healthcare innovation, Charlotte Ollerton’s main commitment is driving change within health services. Charlotte's journey began with her critical role in the NHS Innovation Service, where she facilitated the development of industry ideas, ensuring they gained the necessary evidence to successfully integrate into the NHS.

Charlotte also managed the health social enterprise programme, guiding start-ups through the intricacies of business planning and grant acquisition for growth. Her academic achievements include an MSc in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship with Distinction from the Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.

Charlotte's previous roles have granted her a deep understanding of the operations and culture across the NHS, universities, and industry. This, combined with her extensive network of innovators, entrepreneurs, academics, and business professionals, enables her to effectively support those committed to making a difference through new ideas.

Among her most notable achievements is her work with MDSAS, where she led a comprehensive strategic review to address the company's organic growth challenges and unclear operational processes. Through her targeted support, MDSAS developed a clear growth strategy, expanded into new markets, launched new products (including a product that enables a 30% reduction in mortality), and saw a significant increase in turnover and market share. This not only transformed the company's approach to business but also reinforced its innovation culture and strategy, securing £46,000 in grant funding to further support their journey.

David Richmond
Senior Innovation & Growth Specialist

David Richmond has a wealth of experience across multiple industries, including agriculture, IT, pharmaceuticals, and more. His academic achievements are extensive, with qualifications in PRINCE2, Agile, Project Management, Intellectual Property, Business Administration and Finance, Executive Coaching, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. His career has seen him make impactful contributions at BDO, Shell, AstraZeneca, RR Donnelley, and as a self-employed innovation consultant.

David's business support expertise encompasses a broad range of disciplines, from innovation capability and program management to marketing and IT. He is skilled in guiding companies through transitions, such as moving from consultancy-based to product-based services, enabling them to scale and grow more efficiently. His ability to help clients secure grant and investment funding, as well as his support in accessing the Innovate UK Scale-up program, are among his most notable achievements. David's multifaceted approach to business support, combined with his extensive industry knowledge, makes him an invaluable asset to our team.

Deborah Labbate
Senior Innovation & Growth Specialist

Deborah Labbate has a history of great entrepreneurial success, beginning her first business venture at the age of 17. With two notable exits to her name, one a choice move and the other a challenge turned success, Deborah embodies the journey of business highs and lows. Since 2006, Deborah has dedicated herself to guiding other business owners to achieve accelerated success. Her advisory prowess spans many sectors, assisting startups, growth-stage companies, and those navigating exit strategies.

A highly skilled business advisor, Deborah's proficiency in identifying improvement areas and executing strategic solutions is impressive. She has established a notable track record in fostering SME development across various industries, from inception through growth phases to successful exits. Her board-level work accentuates her comprehensive leadership capabilities. Deborah's passion lies in nurturing leadership qualities, utilising Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques, acting as a critical sounding board, and providing constructive challenges to her clients.

Personable, approachable, and equipped with strong emotional intelligence, Deborah excels in crisis and project management. Her engagement with clients underscores her ability to dissect complex business challenges, offering clarity, direction, and highly effective solutions. Deborah’s advice is always grounded in real-world business acumen, making her an invaluable asset to any Business Growth Clients.

Dilruk Yahathugoda
Senior Innovation And Growth Specialist

Dilruk has a profound academic foundation, holding a PhD in Med-Tech and a BSc Hons in Materials Science and Textiles Engineering. His credentials are further solidified by professional qualifications as a Chartered Engineer, a PRINCE2 Practitioner, and a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Dilruk brings over two decades of entrepreneurial and strategic leadership experience, driving ventures from high-tech startups and transformations to growth and expansions across a variety of industries.

Dilruk’s career is marked by significant achievements, notably his work with a Medtech company during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his guidance, the company achieved a 4,000% growth in revenue following the launch of self-disinfecting products, contributing significantly to global health in a time of crisis. Another milestone was spearheading a healthcare initiative that transitioned from concept to commercial launch, focusing on women’s health and securing an impressive $50M in annual sales within just three years.

Dilruk's expertise in strategy and innovation, combined with his comprehensive understanding of growth, investment, IP, and digital technologies, has positioned him as a key figure in transforming ideas into successful, high-impact enterprises. His approach is deeply rooted in strategic planning and execution, leveraging his extensive knowledge and skills to foster innovation and growth in the energy, engineering, and technology sectors.

Dr. Giulia Sirigu
Innovate UK Business Growth Scaleup Director

Dr. Giulia Sirigu serves as both a Scale Up Director and Senior Innovation and Growth Specialist for Innovate UK Business Growth at Inventya. With over 15 years of experience in developing international strategic relations across Latin America and Europe, Giulia is passionate about assisting clients with international advice. Holding a PhD in Foreign Policy and a background in globalisation and global political economy, she is a recognised authority in internationalisation and business development. Giulia works with SMEs and corporates on a global scale, offering local and international development consultancy to foster their business growth.

Giulia’s expertise is broad and multifaceted, ranging from her work with the Italian Trade Agency in Mexico and the UK, to her consultancy roles in international projects collaborating with universities, public, and private institutions. Currently, as the Head of the North West office and Project Manager for the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the UK, she plays a pivotal role in supporting companies on their internationalisation journey, developing partnerships between Italy and the UK.

An advocate for gender, trade, and inclusion, Giulia actively contributes to the Women in Innovation community and is a key member of Innovate UK Business Growth Community of Practice (CoP) on Internationalisation and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). Her efforts extend to leading initiatives for the deployment of EDI strategies for Innovate UK Business Growth and active participation in the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)’s Women in Entrepreneurship and the Agri-tech Sector Group, part of the world’s largest support network for SMEs aspiring to innovate and grow internationally.

Giulia’s notable achievements include facilitating the obtainment of multi-million investments for clients, supporting women in innovation to develop their products, services, and company growth, and aiding in the development of internationalisation strategies that have led to the opening of new offices and branches, as well as the establishment of international collaborations across four different continents.

Felipe Escandon
Senior Innovation & Growth Specialist

Felipe Escandón’s focus is supporting British and European small and medium-sized enterprises, including startups, in realising their innovative potential and meeting their internationalisation needs. His primary role involves guiding these companies towards growth by offering innovation advice and coaching, ensuring that their solutions are well-defined and meet real needs. Felipe’s expertise extends to refining business models and value propositions, making them robust and market-ready.

With a background in engineering management, complemented by Master’s degrees in International Business and Management and Technology Entrepreneurship, Felipe has led teams and executed innovation projects across private and public sectors. His experience is marked by a deep understanding of the complexities of international business, from regulation compliance to market entry strategies.

Felipe excels in providing international partnership support, aiding companies in securing international business contacts, and integrating into various international innovation ecosystems to discover funding opportunities. As an active member of the Enterprise Europe Network Cultural and Creative Sector Group, he plays a central role in connecting companies across Europe within these sectors.

Felipe’s achievements include significantly improving client preparedness for entering new markets and supporting their successful market entry. His workshops and sessions are meticulously designed to equip companies with the necessary tools to address their challenges effectively.

Fiaz Sadiq
Senior Innovation And Growth Specialist

Fiaz Sadiq has a strong educational background with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a Master’s in Finance and Strategy, further enriched by his certification in Business Coaching. His career has spanned a variety of roles, including being the Director and Owner of ActionCoach, a Business Consultant at FSOMM Consultancy, and the Global Partnership Director at Prowise. Fiaz's breadth of experience extends to strategic sales and marketing positions at Connecting Minds at Ingram Micro and leadership roles such as Managing Director at Educational Ideas. His foundational career experience in client management and strategy at CiTi Bank has provided him with a deep understanding of the financial services sector.

Fiaz's expertise shines through in his vast array of business support skills. His achievements are highlighted by his success in raising significant investment for clients, securing grant funding, and developing impactful technology and software strategies. Notably, he has played a critical role in his clients' successes, including securing GBIP awards and driving an impressive 300% growth in client sales. Fiaz Sadiq is a key figure in the Innovate UK Business Growth team, renowned for his strategic insight and his ability to provide support and enable growth across various industries.

Gary Collins
Innovation and Growth Specialist

Gary Collins has an extensive background in the financial services and software industries, focusing specifically on Fintech, SaaS, and Mutual Finance. As a strategic business lead in Fintech and a co-founder of a Fintech startup, Gary has demonstrated exceptional skill in navigating the complexities of the market, identifying emerging trends, and leveraging technological advancements to drive company growth.

With a great understanding of the Fintech landscape, Gary excels in crafting and implementing strategic sales plans that have consistently resulted in business expansion and revenue enhancement. His expertise extends to change management, where he has effectively guided teams towards innovation, significantly improving the customer experience and achieving business objectives.

Gary’s leadership abilities are further evidenced by his success in securing grant funding and expanding his startup team to 15 dedicated professionals. His communication skills are paramount, particularly in negotiation, allowing for effective engagement with a wide range of stakeholders including customers, partners, and investors. Gary’s extensive network, which includes trade associations, financial institutions, and industry partners, has facilitated numerous strategic alliances and collaborative efforts to address digital challenges and enhance product offerings.

A committed business coach and mentor, Gary has spent over 16 years as a chairman and innovative lead within the local charity sector, dedicating his expertise to support local community good causes. His approach is inherently collaborative, strategic, and customer-focused, ensuring the delivery of exceptional value to stakeholders within the Fintech ecosystem.

Hannah Williams
Senior Innovation & Growth Specialist

Hannah Williams brings a wealth of experience from the SME Corporate Finance landscape, where she has been actively engaged for the past seven years. Her primary focus is on preparing clients for investment and conducting thorough market research to inform strategic decisions. Hannah’s background has equipped her with a deep understanding of the financial challenges and opportunities faced by SMEs, enabling her to provide targeted advice that enhances their growth potential and investment appeal.

One of Hannah’s most notable contributions has been her work delivering Innovate UK Business Growth support. This role allows her to merge her passion for innovation with her expertise in finance, offering a rewarding platform to collaborate with pioneering businesses. By working alongside experienced and knowledgeable colleagues, Hannah plays a critical role in the innovation ecosystem, helping early-stage businesses secure the necessary funding to bring innovative products to market.

Her commitment to helping growing SMEs is evident in her approach to each project. Hannah's dedication to making a tangible difference in the innovation landscape, combined with her skills in investment readiness and market research, positions her as an asset to any business looking to scale and succeed in today’s competitive market.

Jeremy Swinnerton
Senior Innovation & Growth Specialist

Jeremy Swinnerton is a dedicated Senior Innovation and Growth Specialist and Regional Investment Champion at Innovate UK Business Growth, leveraging a rich career history in the automotive industry to empower leaders of ambitious and innovative SMEs. With a focus on financing solutions, M&A deals, and governance, Jeremy has led lending and investment teams to support the growth and operational excellence of dealership networks.

Joining Innovate UK Business Growth (formerly Edge)  three years ago, Jeremy aimed to apply his extensive experience in relationship and process management, analysis and advocacy, and training and coaching to a wider range of industries. A Certified Director who has served on the boards of invested companies, he offers clients a dual perspective that encompasses both the investor's viewpoint and the operational realities of running a business.

Jeremy is an expert in developing robust business plans and solid organisational foundations. His approach is rooted in positive values and culture, ensuring sustainable development. With his adept skill in creating and presenting business cases, Jeremy excels in resolving strategic and organisational challenges, applying these competencies for our Innovate UK Business Growth clients.

Julian Watts
Senior Innovation And Growth Specialist

Julian Watts has an extensive background spanning several key industries, including automotive, IT, education, and more. His career began uniquely as a Class 4 Officer at the Merchant Navy, educated at Leith Nautical College. Julian then transitioned into a more creative role as a Graphic Artist in the Promotions Department at Newsgroup Newspapers. His journey in leadership and strategic growth took off as the Sales Director at Interfax Group.

Julian is both a seasoned advisor and a successful entrepreneur, having founded Environmental Waste Controls, which was ranked 28th in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 in 2001. Another notable venture is WiFiAlli, a Public WiFi Security System, showcasing his versatility. His expertise in investment, business planning, marketing, and sales strategy has been honed through these varied experiences, making him a valuable asset to any client.

Julian's approach is characterised by his ability to blend strategic thinking with practical solutions, tailored to each industry he specialises in. His broad experience not only covers a wide range of sectors but also encapsulates a unique blend of creativity, strategic leadership, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Katherine Horner
Senior Innovation And Growth Specialist
Louis Lechouritis
Innovation And Growth Specialist
Mark Holmes
Senior Innovation & Growth Specialist

Mark Holmes has an extensive background in mechanical and production engineering, culminating in over 15 years of R&D, process, and materials development within the global plastic food packaging sector. Mark's career journey demonstrates his expertise, from hands-on R&D and customer support roles within leading plastics manufacturers to managing R&D projects and programmes at a prominent commercial Research and Technology Organisation (RTO). Here, his responsibilities expanded into project scoping, commercial contract negotiations, technology scouting, and technical services procurement.

Before joining the Innovate UK Business Growth team, Mark excelled as a commercial bid writer, crafting compelling applications for SMEs and large enterprises targeting UK and European grant funding. This role leveraged his deep understanding of the innovation landscape, particularly the intricacies of grant funding, and honed his expertise in intellectual property's strategic application in commercial outcomes.

Mark's approach to innovation support combines his technical acumen with a keen insight into the grant application process. He is adept at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of applications, providing invaluable feedback to enhance their quality and competitiveness. His work has significantly impacted clients, many of whom have secured grant funding and other forms of innovation support under his guidance. Clients consistently praise the difference Mark's support has made, not just to their applications but to their broader innovation strategies.

Nick Pope
Senior Innovation & Growth Specialist

Nick Pope is an accomplished Senior Innovation and Growth Specialist with a deep-seated expertise across the health services, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical devices & diagnostics industries. With an educational background that includes a PhD in Biochemistry and an MBA, alongside credentials such as IMC, ILM 7 in Executive Coaching, and NLP Practitioner Training, Nick's foundation in both science and business is robust. His career has spanned biotech consulting, drug market forecasting, and business development, engaging in significant deal-making activities with Big Pharma.

Nick's venture into the entrepreneurial ecosystem is marked by his co-founding of two businesses, and his impactful roles as a business coach at BioCity and Entrepreneur in Residence at Birmingham University Science Park. Here, he has supported hundreds of early-stage clients, guiding them through the complexities of business strategy, investment pitching, and market entry. As a core team member of the Midlands ICURe, Nick has further solidified his reputation as a key figure in the innovation community.

Among his proudest achievements are the development of a compelling value proposition and sales deck for the Business Health Institute, leading to a significant increase in client engagement. His expertise was instrumental in BioRelate's pitch development, resulting in a successful £3m raise after previous attempts had faltered. Additionally, Nick played a crucial role in strategizing business development for Bright BioTech, culminating in a £3m raise that has propelled the company forward.

Nick Pope's approach to innovation and growth is characterized by his ability to demystify complex scientific concepts, making them accessible and actionable for businesses. His strategic insight into customer segmentation, value proposition design, and commercial strategy has enabled numerous startups and enterprises to achieve their growth potential and secure essential funding.

Olaolu Olaleye
Senior Innovation And Growth Specialist

Olaolu Olaleye is renowned for his extensive experience in product development, business development, and commercialisation management. Olaolu excels in bridging the gap between practicality and imagination, and fostering environments where ideas thrive. His problem-solving skills and commercial acumen have been honed through years of entrepreneurship, enabling him to guide SMEs towards high growth via innovation consulting, business consulting, and targeted growth services.

His expertise is vast, encompassing investment readiness, creating commercialisation roadmaps, managing product lifecycles, and steering innovation development. He is adept at project management, facilitating effective problem-solving and decision-making, and applying design thinking principles to unlock innovative solutions. Furthermore, Olaolu is skilled in clarifying outcomes and goals, providing growth services, and conducting thorough market and user discovery, complemented by his proficiency in business coaching.

Priding himself on playing pivotal roles in assisting innovative businesses to develop and operationalise robust product strategies, Olaolu has been instrumental in fostering high growth for numerous clients. His passion shines brightest when helping SMEs achieve investment readiness and secure the necessary funding.

Phil Crosland
Senior Innovation & Growth Specialist

Philip Crosland brings an extensive background in mechanical engineering and a robust track record in project management, design, and the development and application of technology across multiple sectors. After earning an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Trent Polytechnic, Phil began his career focusing on special purpose machines/automation and handling systems at Mid-Anglia Engineering. He further honed his expertise in rotor dynamics and stress analysis at Brush Electrical Machines.

His tenure with Pera Technology as a Technologist, Project Manager, and Research Funding Bid Author, among other roles, saw him deeply involved in securing grants and managing funding acquisition processes. This experience provided Philip with a comprehensive understanding of the development and application of technology in various sectors.

As the Director of Proposals at Cresco, Phil led a team of bid writers to remarkable success, securing £48m in grant funding for clients. His achievements include supporting JNCK Bakery in securing £173k of grant funding, enabling the development of two new products; assisting Stratiphy in obtaining £1m of grant funding; and aiding BossIT in securing two grants worth £150k.

Phil’s passion for innovation, coupled with his extensive experience in securing funding, makes him an asset to businesses looking to navigate the complexities of grant acquisition and technology development.

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