Who We Are

We’re a diverse and dynamic team brought together because of a common goal – to improve the economic future of North East England.

Our work is developed by our Steering Group of prominent members of the business support community and shaped by the partner businesses we work with.

  • Alan Welby, Innovation Director, North East LEP
  • Dawn Dunn, Business Development Manager, North East Finance
  • Paul McEldon, Chief Executive, North East BIC
  • Simon Green, CEO, Innovation SuperNetwork
  • Estelle Blanks, Executive Director, Innovation SuperNetwork

The Innovation SuperNetwork is part of the North East LEP’s ambitious Innovation Strategy focused on Open Innovation and Smart Specialisation and led by the Innovation Leadership Board.

The SuperNetwork Team
The programme is delivered by a highly experienced team of innovation and communication professionals, based in Sunderland and serving the whole region.

Simon Green


Simon’s background is in product development, having run innovation teams in small businesses, corporates and academia. He has worked directly with medical device manufacturers, with NHS trusts and medical schools, and with governmental bodies (especially Innovate UK). Simon’s specialism is in managing relationships between organisations.


Estelle Blanks

Executive Director

Estelle has over 15 years’ experience within senior positions for both public and private sector organisations, including Newcastle Science City, Urban Foresight, North East Access to Finance and One North East. She has primarily led on economic development though innovation and regeneration activities in the UK and internationally.


Peter Riddell

Partnerships Director

Peter has more than 20 years’ experience working in private industry, local authorities and the charity sector and has developed a strong understanding of how successful partnerships are forged in very different landscapes, helping companies build meaningful connections for mutual benefit and to achieve business development objectives.


Elaine Dinsley

Finance Manager

Elaine is a qualified ACCA accountant with over 20 years financial experience in a variety of public and private sector businesses, including SME and corporate.


Dr Paul Koshy

Innovation Manager

With a background in business-to-business strategic market research to inform technology commercialisation and strategic business decisions, Paul has nearly a decade of experience assessing business models and de-risking innovation.  Currently, Paul supports SMEs in developing their innovation journey by connecting them to opportunities, collaborators, finance and expertise. He also works closely with larger organisations to tackle innovation challenges and opportunities, by identifying innovative solutions efficiently and cost-effectively.


Dr Angela MacOscar

Innovation Manager

Angela has a background working in R&D for major brands, including Proctor & Gamble where she developed extensive expertise in global consumer research and experience across a range of product categories amongst leading edge targets. She applies this knowledge and expertise at the Innovation SuperNetwork to support SMEs in identifying their innovation and growth needs, through 1:1 engagement and via the facilitation of live innovation challenges and workshops.


Graeme Miller

Innovation Manager

With a degree in Business Systems and IT, Graeme started his career in the commercial world of recruitment before moving into business support. With experience working across all five regional universities, the public and private sectors and a role with the North East Satellite Application Centre, he has significant strength of knowledge across the regional innovation landscapes.


Shelley Armstrong

Communications Manager

With an in-depth understanding of the marketing mix, Shelley takes a strategic and holistic approach to engaging audiences, changing perceptions and building communities. Specialising in media relations and PR, she has a track-record of delivering often complex communications projects in the non-profit sector working with a range of partners.


Jenny Forrester

Events Manager

Jenny has more than 15 years’ experience in end-to-end event management, including venue sourcing, hospitality, marketing communications, email marketing, project management and supplier sourcing & liaison. She has delivered high-profile events across the corporate, non-profit, education, arts and business to business sectors.


Hannah Johnson

Marketing Officer

Hannah supports the promotion and implementation of innovation through integrated digital marketing campaigns targeted to growing businesses, with the aim of engaging them with innovation activity and events. Previous to this she spent a number of years supporting the digital marketing output of a leading North East engineering firm across all online channels.


Emma Wright

Events Officer

Emma has almost 12 years Events experience,  having been part of the HUG in a Bag charity committee since her teens supporting the charity in many of its fundraising events. Professionally she has worked in 5-star to 3-star hotels, for public sector working on events such as Remembrance Day Parade and Sunderland Airshow.


Jena Robson

Compliance Officer

Jena has over 10 years’ experience working in compliance and procurement on a number of publicly funded projects, including European Regional Development Funding.