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Sam Testro
Proposal Writer
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Mark Holmes
Senior Proposal Writer
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Georgia O’Keeffe
Proposal Writer
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Danielle Wallis
Proposal Writer
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Harry Duckels
Proposal Writer
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Paul Allen
Senior Proposal Writer
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Phil Crosland
Head of Proposal Writing
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Jo Derbyshire
Director of Grant Writing
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Anchal Sachdeva
Senior Market Research Consultant
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Tony Brooks
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Malcolm Cohen
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Kathryn Green
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Heather Abrahams
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Emma Douglas-Beet
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Craig Huntingdon
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Chris Price-Jones
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Chris Ellis
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Charles Ward
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Adrian Allen
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Nick Pope
Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Jeremy Swinnerton
Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Deborah Labbate
Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Shane Minvalla
Data Analyst
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Joanne Phoenix
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Ginny Jorgensen, PhD
Senior IP Manager
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Paul Jenkinson
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Gary Collins
Innovation and Growth Specialist
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Charlotte Hasler
Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Andrew North
Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Angela Hodgson
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Martina Bobeva
R&D Tax Credit Consultant
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Felipe Escandon
Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Chris Speakman
Director of Business Development / Head of Strategic Partnerships
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Neil Donald
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Hannah Williams
Innovation and growth specialist
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Ashley McConnell
Head of Customer Success
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Ian Sterritt
Senior innovation and growth specialist
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David Richmond
Head of Innovation and Consultancy
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Giulia Sirigu
Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Ian Fletcher
Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Ryan Makin
Innovation Consultant
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Sheena Carroll
HR Manager
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Samantha Dobson
Group Financial Controller
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Steve Smith
Senior Advisor Finance for Growth services
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Giorgia Turus
R&D Tax Credit Consultant
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Simona Cocuz
Group Finance and Compliance Manager
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Jim Tunstall
Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Programme Lead
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Andrew Kent
Innovate UK EDGE Partner Manager
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James Doherty
Head of Finance for Growth services
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Carmel Meredew
Proposal Manager
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Viney Chauhan
Operations Director
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Valerie De Leonibus
Director and Cofounder
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Aldo De Leonibus
CEO & Cofounder
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Aldo De Leonibus

MEnt MEng

CEO & Cofounder
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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. 

Aldo has a strong ethical vision of business and for this reason, he founded Inventya 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 support to Inventya’s clients, 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. 

Valerie De Leonibus

MEng MSc

Director and Cofounder
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With a background in environmental and mechanical engineering, Valerie is an expert in feasibility studies, market research, commercialisation strategies and R&D Finance.

Valerie leads our R&D Tax Credit team and is expert at helping clients submit accurate claims. 

Valerie is an advocate for female entrepreneurship and speaks three languages.

 

Viney Chauhan

MSc BEng

Operations Director
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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. 

In his current role as Operations Director of Inventya, 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 for Inventya 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 Inventya clients and international partners. This includes connecting one of Inventya’ 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.


Anchal Sachdeva

Senior Market Research Consultant
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Anchal has recently completed an MBA in general management from the University of Surrey before which Anchal has4 years of experience as a market researcher with a research agency based in India conducting projects for global companies.

Sector-wise most of her experience spans healthcare, pharma-related fields, consumer-packed goods, communication research including Ad Pre-testing, Brand tracking, and Idea testing.

Recently, Anchal has also worked with System1 Research in the UK as a Strategy Intern which was a part of her final MBA project, formulating internal growth strategies mainly focusing on competitor review, where they should compete in the market.

Angela Hodgson

BSc (Hons) PG Dip

Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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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.  

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.


Danielle Wallis

Proposal Writer
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Danielle assists in the bid writing process for companies seeking funding for their innovation working closely with clients during business case development to successfully portray the innovativeness and marketability of their project. Originally joining the team as a proposal writer in early 2020, Danielle immediately made a big impact – within her first three months she had secured funding for an SME.

Danielle’s passion for writing has proved instrumental in successful bid writing, throughout her education, she was constantly praised for her adaptive writing style and ability to employ critical analysis to substantiate her arguments. She thrives on the opportunity to engage with clients, and colleagues, who are truly passionate about what they do and in helping them to achieve it.

A highlight of Danielle’s career so far is playing an instrumental role in writing a bid for a company that was developing safety devices for increased workplace safety among healthcare professionals.

Deborah Labbate

Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Deborah started her first business at 17.  The rest, as they say, is history!

With two exits under her belt; one successful and by choice; the other not by choice, but successful in the end, she has certainly experienced the highs and lows of running a business first hand.

Taking this experience in business and now working as a critical friend, mentor and advisor Deborah has been helping other business owners go further, faster since 2006. She has worked across a broad range of sectors and with start-up companies, those looking to grow and some looking to exit.

Deborah is a highly skilled business advisor with a track record of identifying areas for improvement and delivering solutions through strategic development, coaching and mentoring and business leadership expertise.

She brings a depth of expertise generated through extensive experience supporting SMEs across sectors, establishing, growing and exiting businesses and working at board level. 

Deborah thrives on developing leaders, utilising NLP, serving as a sounding board and providing constructive challenge. 

You will find Deborah to be personable and approachable with strong emotional intelligence, crisis management and project management capabilities.

Gary Collins

Innovation and Growth Specialist
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Gary is an Innovation and Growth Specialist with robust expertise in finance, fintech and digital technology sectors.

Gary has helped clients access funding and support programmes through his established networks while maintaining trusted relationships with internal and external partners, businesses, and advocates.


His innovative and strategic approach focuses on applying resources to achieve outcomes that have a positive impact on supporting clients from innovation to market.

As Inventya’s Innovation and Growth Specialist, Gary is a friendly face who enjoys meeting new and old clients, networking, discussing future collaborations with clients and working on building relationships with partners and stakeholders.

Georgia O’Keeffe

Proposal Writer
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Georgia works alongside her colleagues to develop funding applications for clients. This involves learning about the client’s innovation, conducting research around the subject area and writing the application questions. Joining the team during the midst of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, Georgia quickly settled in and, most notably, immediately demonstrated her flair for bid writing.

Having previously worked in the Marketing & Advancement department at Loughborough University in the Alumni Engagement team – her first graduate role since completing her degree in history and international relations – Georgia came on board with us as a proposal writer.

One of Georgia’s biggest strengths is writing, which she was able to expand her skills on throughout her time at university and she would also consider her ability to adapt as another key attribute. Georgia really thrives on the opportunity to continually learn about new, innovative idea in a range of different subjects.

Ginny Jorgensen, PhD

Senior IP Manager
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A highly experienced IP specialist with a background in biotechnology and engineering, and a PhD in Cancer biology. 

 

Having works as an in-house IP manager and IP consultants for technology start-ups, Ginny is experienced in managing the creation, maintenance, defence and commercialisation of intellectual property rights.  She helps organisations leverage innovation for IP creations and develop best strategies to monetise these IP to the fullest extent.

Harry Duckels

Proposal Writer
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Harry is an integral part of our Health Team, which is specifically dedicated to helping medically focused projects receive funding and become implemented in the NHS. He has worked on several different funding types.

Having graduated in history from the University of Lincoln, Harry joined as a proposal writer, which sees him working alongside colleagues to assist clients in developing their funding applications. Already, he has worked on several different funding types, including Innovate UK, Horizon 2020 and the National Institute for Health & Research (NIHR).

The skills Harry developed during his university degree made him ideally placed to pursue a career as a bid writer.

Jeremy Swinnerton

Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Jeremy joined Inventya to build on a career in the automotive industry, where he supported the leaders of ambitious and innovative SME dealerships and led lending and investment teams.  He delivered financing solutions, M&A deals and the governance of a substantial portfolio.

He is skilled at relationship & process management, analysis & advocacy and training & coaching. Jeremy has been a corporate director of invested companies, is a Certified Director and has written & delivered training.

Jeremy brings clients an insider perspective of lending and investment but has also sat on the boards of invested companies dealing with the day-to-day operational reality of running a business.

He is passionate about supporting business leaders to grow their enterprise and realise their ambitions while delivering strong business plans and organisational foundations to underpin that growth, based on positive values and culture.

Jeremy has created and presented many business cases, resolved strategic and organisational challenges and is pleased to use these skills in the drive for Innovation and Growth of the Innovate UK EDGE programme.   

Jo Derbyshire

Director of Grant Writing
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Jo leads the Grant Funding activity for Inventya, and together with her team has raised over £50M in grant funding for innovative projects. Jo started her career working in the technology transfer world, firstly at Loughborough University and then at the University of Nottingham Innovation Park. With a law degree, Jo has a background in IP commercialisation, having spent more than 25 years in the innovation and enterprise sector.

Jo is recognised in the industry for establishing the Loughborough Innovation Centre, where she was the Managing Director for 15 years. Jo was also MD of Loughborough University Enterprises Ltd, managing IP commercialisation, consultancy, and the spinning out of over 30 companies. Jo was a founder of the Lachesis fund which was a government back investment fund supporting spin-out companies from across the midlands. In 2019, Jo established Cresco Innovation, a successful grant writing company, acquired by Inventya in 2021, with the team which is now an integral and busy part of the Inventya family.

In her spare time, Jo is studying for a PhD in Archaeology and is a member of the Gebel el Silsila Archaeological Mission in Egypt, where she spends several weeks of the year working on the archaeological survey of an ancient quarry and cultic centre.

Joanne Phoenix

Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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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. 

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. 

Mark Holmes

Senior Proposal Writer
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Mark heads up the grants team’s project administration services and is actively involved in business development, bid writing and operations support.

Mark spent 17 years with a major provider of innovation consultancy, overseeing R&D business development and service delivery for a wide range of commercial clients. Throughout his career, Mark’s attention to detail, and integrity has served him well, as has his daily motivation of striving to do the best possible job for clients.

Bringing with him broad experience in commercial R&D across many industries, he is able to help clients in a range of sectors from healthcare to construction, industrial, electronics, consumer goods and transport, to access funding for R&D.

Mark has successfully secured funding for a number of clients, allowing them to progress their innovation activities much more quickly and effectively than would otherwise be possible. He is particularly proud of securing funding for a client in the construction industry, seeing the resultant project achieve significant advances in the state of the art.

Nick Pope

PHD MBA

Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Nick is a part-time Senior Business Advisor with Inventya. He is an experienced consultant, hands-on business developer and business coach, for start-up and young high growth businesses.  He applies over 30 years’ experience in the life-science / biotech / healthcare, cleantech and digital sectors, along with a mix of traditional and Lean-Startup approaches, to help establish & grow businesses.

Currently Nick is also Founding Director BioSpring Ltd (part-time), Board Advisor to Ostique Ltd, and an occasional coach/mentor for Innovate UK’s ICURe program.

Previously he has;

  • coached / mentored & often ran numerous start-up and growth accelerators.
  • cofounded three businesses as CEO or Commercial Dir
  • acted as interim commercial director for several companies
  • been a NED or board advisor on six occasions,
  • a member of three investment panels, and
  • an Innovate UK grant assessor.


Nick holds a PhD Microbial Biochemistry & Genetics from Birmingham University, an MBA from Warwick Business School, and an Investment Management Certificate.

Paul Allen

Senior Proposal Writer
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Paul is a primary leader in healthcare projects, with a specific focus on pharma and biopharma. He has a rich history to draw on, having worked as a research chemist for the best part of 20 years, mainly in pharmaceutical R&D.

Paul’s first-ever job was as a research scientist at Pfizer, working on trying to make new antifungal drugs. He then went on to work as a research chemist for the best part of 20 years, mainly in pharmaceutical R&D at Pfizer and AstraZeneca, before moving into grant writing more than five years ago.

One of Paul’s career highlights so far was when he finished his lab career as a synthetic radiochemist preparing radiolabelled drugs, which he describes as “challenging but also extremely enjoyable”. During that time, Paul developed new methodologies that are used to expand on the limited ways that radiolabelled compounds can be made. He also presented this work at international conferences.

Paul Jenkinson

Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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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. 

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. 

Phil Crosland

Head of Proposal Writing
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Phil has been overseeing, guiding, and supporting the team in the submission of grants, from sales through to running successful funded projects since 2016 in his role as Head of Proposal Writing. He has worked as a technologist, project manager, research funding bid author, key knowledge holder, bid manager and funding acquisition quality manager.

Whilst working for a research and development company, starting off as consultant, Phil first came across grant funding. After securing his first grant, he realised he had discovered his niche and, since 2005, has been doing it ever since, thoroughly immersing himself into working within a diversity of sectors and technologies.

Phil’s ability to take difficult and highly technical concepts and present them in a simple, persuasive, and logical manner has seen him gain a hugely impressive track record of delivering funding, he has delivered more than £19million to clients.

His most notable career achievement here to date was a client acknowledging him as an inventor on their patent in recognition of the innovation he was able to supply.

Sam Testro

Proposal Writer
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Sam is responsible for managing clients and researching, writing, and preparing all the necessary materials required for submitting applications. Sam, who also has a role in sales, is conscientious, diligent and has an innate ability to quickly understand and digest new and complex subject areas.

Having joined the team following his achievement of a first-class honours degree in History student at Loughborough University, Sam came to us armed with his core skills of research and writing. He is driven to try to learn something new every day and constantly aims to make improvements to give our clients the best chance of success.

These talents have stood him in a good stead as a proposal writer, something which was quickly in evidence when, after just a few months on the team, he was involved in a winning Innovate UK bid. Sam’s attributes have been keenly acknowledged by our clients.

Shane Minvalla

Data Analyst
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Shane is a skilled data analyst with experience in collecting, organizing, interpreting, and disseminating various types of data and statistical figures.

He has over 2 years of data experience in large corporate and SME environments, holding analyst, management and consultant roles with organisations including Radisson Hotel Group and PHMG.

Shane holds a degree in Film & Television Production (BA Hons) from the University of Cumbria (2013). He studied International Business & Economics Management at the University of Leuven (2015-2017). He also has industry specific certifications including Databases & SQL from IBM (2019).

Shane is a techie at heart and has been since a young age. He also enjoys movies, music, horticulture, and sport, with Manchester United being his team of choice.


Andrew Kent

BA(Hons)

Innovate UK EDGE Partner Manager
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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

MSc

Senior innovation and growth specialist
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With a background in product design, Andrew has spent the last 19years working professionally in design research and innovation. His experience spans managing a portfolio of clients and projects across all disciplines within industry and academia. Encouraging multi-disciplinary collaboration wherever appropriate and applying a strategic user-centred design approach to tackle business challenges.

Taking a design thinking approach, Andrew prides himself on supporting the development of new products and service offerings that address real-world needs. He thrives on pushing the boundaries and challenging assumptions of how things should be done, using design as a key tool for success.

Andrew provides support through the full design process from concept to commercialisation. With a goal to help develop the culture of innovation in organisations and creatively maximise business growth potential.

Ashley McConnell

Head of Customer Success
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Ashley has 10 years’ experience in client services, consulting and innovation. Having spent these 10 years in a global technology corporation, he has experienced and deployed European wide digital commercialisation projects, with a particular focus on emerging technology sectors.

In addition to commercialisation projects, Ashley has a strong focus on innovation process management, agile methodologies and intrapreneurship programmes.

Carmel Meredew

PhD

Proposal Manager
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A highly experienced and successful bid-writer with a background in the sciences, including a doctorate in Chemistry. 

Carmel is passionate about what she does and is continually striving to perfect the team’s funding applications. 

We have to say it shows, our bid writing team have an excellent success rate and our clients come back to us time after time!

Charlotte Hasler

MSc

Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Charlotte has a background in the healthcare innovation landscape in which she has been working for the past seven years. She has experience of partnering with individuals, SMEs and Public Sector organisations to develop their ideas into sustainable businesses.

Her knowledge and key areas of interest are business planning, value proposition and developing enterprising individuals.

Her previous role saw her lead the start-up programme for health social enterprise, providing tailored 1:1 coaching and mentoring support.

Charlotte is also a co-founder of a tech start-up and has a MSc Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship graduate from Alliance Manchester Business School.

Chris Speakman

Director of Business Development / Head of Strategic Partnerships
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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.

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.

David Richmond

BA(Hons) HND

Head of Innovation and Consultancy
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David is an innovation professional with many years’ experience, including innovation roles in blue-chip organisations including Astra Zeneca.


He has extensive knowledge and experience of innovation project delivery, training, culture development, innovation process design and idea management.


David has also run his own management consultancy, helping SMEs develop their innovation capability and deliver new products with agility.
He is also the author of ‘The Innovators Manual’ and a number of other innovation-related publications.


As well as a BA in Business Administration, David holds a postgraduate certificate in Project Management, is a trained PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner, and is a certified Blockchain Expert.

Felipe Escandon

Senior innovation and growth specialist
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After working within the field of engineering, Felipe specialised in International Business, Management and Technology Entrepreneurship with a focus on Innovation. Felipe developed and implemented innovation projects in both the private and public sectors. In his current position Felipe helps many local SMEs in living up to their innovative potential, through answering their internationalisation needs and therefore allowing them to grow. 

Felipe provides technology companies with international partnership support, innovation advice and funding opportunities. He has the in-depth knowledge to advise Swedish companies whether it is in the field of innovation, business development, digitalisation, financing or internationalisation. Felipe has delivered workshops and he currently delivers the Innovate to Success H2020 programme to SMEs.

Felipe has always been very entrepreneurial. For example, during his postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom, he co-founded a start-up. Felipe has led an innovative project in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) and successfully raised funding in different countries. Besides his work, he likes to constantly educate himself and keep himself updated with the latest trends in the field of innovation, technology and marketing.

Giorgia Turus

R&D Tax Credit Consultant
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Giorgia has a degree in Economics and Management of Innovation at the University of Trieste in Italy.


She has previously worked on international tax refunds and now works in our successful R&D Tax Credit claims team, analysing expenses and full accounts, and calculating & preparing the claims. She also writes innovation reports summarising our clients’ R&D projects and the qualifying expenditures.


Giorgia is passionate about helping our clients’ claim back all the R&D Tax Credits they are entitled to.


She is fluent in Italian and English, and is working on improving her German!

Giulia Sirigu

PhD MA BA(Hons)

Senior innovation and growth specialist
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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.

She has 12 years' experience of developing strategic relations with Latin America and Europe and enjoys helping clients access innovative international advice.

Giulia also works as North West manager of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the UK.

Giulia is passionate about gender equality and global gender relations and regularly hosts Women in Innovation Events.

Hannah Williams

Innovation and growth specialist
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Hannah has a background of working in the mergers and acquisitions market, assisting SME business owners in the sale of their business.

Hannah's key specialisms are competitor analysis', market research and identifying appropriate investment. Hannah is extremely pleased to be joining the team at such an exciting time and she looks forward to supporting our clients with their research needs as part of their growth plans

Ian Fletcher

BA(Hons)

Senior innovation and growth specialist
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Ian is an experienced management consultant, and he specialises in the delivery of publicly funded business support programmes to North West businesses.

Ian enjoys working with ambitious people with fast-growing businesses. He provides high level direct strategic interventions, often utilising his extensive network of professional service providers and strategic partners. With an extensive knowledge of the local and national business support landscapes, Ian helps clients access funding and commercial advice aimed at scaling up their operations.

Ian joined Inventya to deliver client support via the Enterprise Europe Network and the Innovate2Succeed Programme.

Ian Sterritt

Senior innovation and growth specialist
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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.  This was followed with the world’s first taxi-hailing app (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.    

A track history of creating winning business strategies, innovation practice, securing funding, building collaborations, and managing a diverse Intellectual Property portfolio.

James Doherty

MBA PgDipFM

Head of Finance for Growth services
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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.

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.


Jim Tunstall

MBA

Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Programme Lead
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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.

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. 

Martina Bobeva

R&D Tax Credit Consultant
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Martina graduated from Bangor University in 2018 with BSC Marine Biology and Zoology degree and with MSC Environmental and Business Management the following year.


Her interests include a wide range of scientific topics from DNA sampling, vet services and genetics to environmental sustainability, technology in animal/environment welfare and sustainable fisheries/aquaculture.


Martina is passionate about new technologies and their application in various fields and how they improve the workflow and the quality of products/services. In detail, she is passionate about wind and water energy generators, alternative recycling and Aquaponic systems.

Neil Donald

Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Director
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Neil started his career @ 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).

A move into consumer electronics saw Neil transition into a European Sales & Marketing role @ 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.



Ryan Makin

Innovation Consultant
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An experienced innovation consultant, Ryan originially worked with us for over 6 years before taking a year-long sabbatical to learn new skills.

He missed us and our clients so much, that he came straight back!

Ryan is highly experienced in conducting research and commercialisation work for clients, across every sector you can think of.

Passionate about his work, he always goes the extra mile to provide clients with the knowledge they need to grow and develop their business and technology.

Samantha Dobson

HNC, ACCA Chartered Certified Accountant

Group Financial Controller
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Samantha is a qualified Certified Chartered Accountant, with over 10 years of experience in accountancy and auditing.


Fluent in both English and Italian, her experience includes 5 years in the banking sector; external auditing in the motor industry; and a role as a senior auditor at a top accountancy firm.


During her career, she has worked in many sectors including PSC, Research and Development, Food, and Software Development.


Samantha takes great pride in helping businesses grow and succeed and specialises in providing our clients with accountancy services.

Sheena Carroll

MCIPD

HR Manager
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Sheena has over 25 years’ experience delivering HR solutions at a senior level in a number of blue-chip organisations.


She now works in partnership with several organisations across several sectors, helping them achieve their long-term goals by developing an effective and appropriate HR Strategy.


As a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel & Development, Sheena is committed to a best practice approach to recruitment, development and retention of staff.

 

Simona Cocuz

BSc(Hons), ACCA Diploma

Group Finance and Compliance Manager
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Simona holds a BSc and an ACCA Diploma in Accounting and has extensive experience in the running of publicly funded services.  

She is the financial lead of Inventya Group, overseeing the auditing and compliance aspects of European Projects.

Having previously worked at The Women’s Organisation, Simona is very passionate about women's roles in business and community.

Steve Smith

Senior Advisor Finance for Growth services
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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.

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.