Estelle is Director of the Innovation SuperNetwork. With over 20 years’ experience in economic development through regeneration and innovation in the North East of England, and working across the UK and Europe, Estelle has a thorough understanding of the national and local innovation eco-system.
She has attracted and led multi-million-pound high-profile programmes in the North East region aimed at supporting new and growing innovative companies. Estelle has in-depth practical knowledge of open-innovation and challenge-led innovation to help address organisational and societal challenges. An expert in access to innovation finance, she has also supported hundreds of companies on their fundraising journeys. Over the years, she has developed a network of over 250 investors locally and nationally and is connected to a wide range of partners including universities, business organisations, research organisations, voluntary and charity sectors.
Estelle champions collaboration and partnership as the key to innovation. In 2018, Estelle became part of the Northern Power Women list and was hailed as one of the most influential women in the region. She has led the North East Women in Innovation programme and continues to advocate and support diversity in innovation and investment. She sits on the North East LEP Innovation Board and is a Non-Executive Director at Nexus.
Nicki’s experience comes from working across numerous sectors – she’s been involved with many different cultures and ways of doing business, which makes her perfect as our Chief Exec. Her career’s felt more like an adventure, with some help from great people and a little bit of luck thrown in.
In her time, she started out in banking, travelled the world selling posh soft drinks, and has set up a number of businesses and social enterprises. So you could say she knows a thing or two about helping businesses go further, as well as our own.
Mum to two amazing boys, Nicki is an outdoorsy type and at her happiest up a hill or on the sea.
She equally loves what she does at UMi and working with entrepreneurial people, for her it’s all about the difference UMi makes every day.
SIMON DEVONSHIRE OBE
Simon brings a mixture of commercial experience that combines both large scale corporate directorship and early stage dynamic start-ups. For five years he ran the business division of O2 UK a €1bn pa company. He then co-founded and ran Wayra Europe, the business accelerator that belongs to Telefonica, building seven start-up accelerators in five countries and investing in 234 fast growth digital businesses.
He helped create the social venture One Water, and helped scale-up Zopa.com the world's first on-line lending and borrowing exchange. Devonshire was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen for services to enterprise, enterprise promotion and humanitarian issues, in the 2016 New Year's Honours List.
Jordan is an innovative and entrepreneurial professional with over 18 years experience across a diverse range of sectors. Jordan has a proven ability to drive startup and business growth through raising capital and strategic development. Jordan has an abundance of experience working directly with investors including angel investors and works with start up companies to prepare them for investment thus connecting them with the right source of funding.
At Innovation SuperNetwork Jordan is responsible for leading the Access to Finance and the Regional Angel Accelerator programme working to stimulate regional angel investment in the North. Jordan is also responsible for overseeing and developing the Newcastle Angel Hub, building an angel investment network bringing together investors from across the region to build an active investment syndicate and co-investment network.
In addition Jordan has a broad knowledge and senior leader track record across business disciplines including talent and people, technology product development, marketing and sales and is well rehearsed in connecting major influencers, investors and other key ecosystems across the North of the UK.
Paul Devlin is Head of Commercialisation for Heriot-Watt University and is responsible for transforming academic research into business and entrepreneurship.
He has a wealth of experience from both innovative technical and commercial backgrounds. In the past 20 years, Paul's career has progressed from patent-holding software researcher and company founder to R&D programme manager and investor.
Throughout his career he has helped high-growth start-ups to commercialise disruptive technology, resulting in acquisitions from global corporations including Facebook.
Most recently, Paul established the Scottish investment office for Mercia Fund Managers Ltd and led student entrepreneurship at the University of Edinburgh, as Company Formation Manager.
Richard Faulkner is a Managing Director at Silicon Valley Bank with responsibility for the growth of the bank in the North & Scotland.
Richard is a qualified banker with over 20 years’ experience. He is committed to supporting the vibrant innovation sector and entrepreneurs leading high-growth, disruptive technology companies.
SVB supports to businesses such as Matillion, Trust Pilot, The Hut Group, Secret Escapes and Made.com as they pave the way towards further growth.
Laura has over 15 years’ experience in the Financial Services Industry across Retail, Private Banking, Wealth Management and Alternative Finance.
Laura is an Investment Executive at Umi Debt Finance Scotland providing funding to high-growth Scottish SME’s via The Scottish Growth Scheme.
She is passionate about helping companies to grow and helping entrepreneurs to develop their network of connections.
Michael is an entrepreneur, broadcaster and author. He co-founded the campaigns firm Seven Hills & co-authored Mission (Penguin).
He is Chairman of Entrepreneurs at the private bank and wealth manager Coutts.
Michael is Honorary Professor of the Purpose Economy at the University of London where he also holds an Honorary Doctorate.
He co-founded the national campaign for early stage enterprise, StartUp Britain, is an advisory board member of the National Business Awards and serves on the Advisory Council of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Michael was awarded an MBE for services to enterprise promotion, entrepreneurship and education, is a Deputy Lieutenant for Surrey and is a Freeman of the City of London.
Lizzy Hodcroft is the Co founder and CEO of Discova Health Ltd, a tech for good business that works with Ai & machine learning to better support individuals with their mental health and wellbeing.
Lizzy entered into the entrepreneurial and start up world back in 2016 with her first business, The Sweet Beet. Lizzy built the food start up to service over 100 stores throughout the UK with listings in Wholefoods, Ocado and more before appearing on Dragon's Den in Dec 2018.
Before selling the company in the early months of 2019, Lizzy won the WIN Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year in both 2017 and 2018.
Lizzy also sits on the board of the Toon Council, a charitable group of well connected leaders that raises funds for the Sick Children's Trust.
With 20 years’ experience leading commercial, social and charitable enterprises, his varied career includes founding an online start-up, working in venture capital and being the first member of The Saltire Foundation team.
He is CEO of Entrepreneurial Scotland Foundation, which recognises that Scotland’s future will be shaped by those who think, act and lead in an entrepreneurial way.
He is on the Board/Advisory Boards of Social Investment Scotland, Reform Scotland, Scottish EDGE Fund, Can Do Scale, Glasgow City Innovation District and the Brain Tumour Charity (Scotland) and a ScaleUp Ambassador with the ScaleUp Institute.
Sandy has a law degree from Cambridge and writes a monthly column for The Herald on entrepreneurship.
A multi-award winning entrepreneur and business model innovation expert who has helped establish and scale several hundred businesses in the North East. Ammar is Chair of the Business Growth Board and SME representative on the NELEP Main Board, Founder and Chairman of not for profit social enterprise Asian Business Connexions (ABC) and President of the Federation of Asian Business alongside being a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management (FInstLM), and Royal Society of Arts(FRSA).
Ammar was appointed a CBE in 2014 for outstanding services to Business and the Community, and has been consistently recognised across the UK for his tireless efforts in supporting and promoting trade and industry, including British Asian Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019, Maserati top 100 Entrepreneur, Williams and Glyn top 50, Institute of Directors Special Judges Award, and British Community Honours Award to name but a few.
Andrea started her career as an accountant with KPMG before joining their Management Consultancy division. Andrea left to start a corporate finance consultancy, where for 10 years she raised business funding across loans, investment and grants – leading her to launch swoopfunding.com.
Andrea is also a non-executive director of Berkshire Hathaway European Insurance.
Richard Riggs is an investment professional at Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV), the corporate venturing subsidiary of Aramco, the Saudi Arabian national oil company.
SAEV invests broadly across the industrial energy value chain, with a current emphasis on digital and sustainability technologies. Prior to joining SAEV Richard has been with BASF Venture Capital and various technical positions within BASF’s research centre.
Richard’s Masters and Doctorate degrees are in chemistry from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
Jackie is a pioneer of women angels; bringing more women angels into Scotland’s dynamic angel investment community.
An active and experienced angel investor herself; she established and leads Scotland’s all-female angel group Investing Women Angels whose members have invested over 80% of their funds in highly innovative female founded/co-founded companies.
Jackie is an entrepreneur with a passion for helping other entrepreneurs. It was this passion which inspired her to establish AccelerateHER; creating a channel and direct help for female founders going for scale.
Publicly recognised by Scotland’s First Minister; she is a major player in shaping the ScotCanDo eco-system.
She has also been an external policy advisor to UK government; leading on the access to finance agenda for women entrepreneurs.