Meet the Team

Meet our dynamic team

Meet our dynamic Innovation SuperNetwork team working across a range of projects to provide finance and support to SMEs in the North East.

Estelle Blanks

CEO

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 and access to finance ecosystems.

Operations & Compliance

Elaine Dinsley

Head of Finance

Elaine is a qualified ACCA chartered accountant with over 25 years financial experience in a variety of public and private sector businesses, including SME, medium and large corporate.  At the SuperNetwork she is responsible for company financial accounting, strategy, planning and reporting and leads in the financial delivery of company projects and compliance.

Laura Kemp

Head of Operations

Laura works across both the Innovation SuperNetwork and the region’s tech cluster, Dynamo North East. Laura leads the Service Delivery Centre and Future of Entertainment clusters, she explores challenges in these areas and works with North East businesses to create and develop solutions.

Peter Lillie

Head of Strategy

For over 25 years Peter has been implementing commercial strategies for start-ups and larger multinational organisations across Europe building strong commercial pipelines for long term growth and investment. He has now re-established his base in the North East and is focused on helping develop businesses enabling inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Joy Webb

Finance Officer

Joy has a depth of experience from her varied career in finance roles and now assists the ISN Head of Finance, CEO and Directors and wider team with behind-the-scenes administration, finance processing and all round internal support of people and projects.

Kevin Collier

Business Process Officer

Kevin’s expertise lies within data integrity & accuracy, performance reporting and impact of funded projects. Kevin also holds experience in partner liaison and creation of new digital systems to improve business efficiency & efficacy.

Gill David

Business Process Officer

Gill has significant experience working in compliance, audit, evidence preparation, reporting, and evaluation. She is responsible for managing the highly regulated compliance processes associated with public funding, procurement and overseeing the collection of evidence for reporting and audit purposes across a range of projects.

Communications & Engagement

Shelley Armstrong

Head of Communications & Engagement

Shelley takes a strategic and holistic approach to engaging audiences, changing perceptions and building communities. She has a track-record of delivering often complex communications projects in the non-profit sector working with high-level stakeholders.

Jen Taylor

Events & Communications Manager

Jen leads in the strategic delivery of all events across Innovation SuperNetwork’s different programmes. With a background in marketing, communications and delivering large scale business events, Jen takes a holistic approach to engaging audiences.

Natalie Barras

Digital Marketing Officer

Natalie is a knowledgeable digital marketing specialist and works across the SuperNetwork’s full programme of activity to ensure our digital campaigns land with our audiences in an engaging and informative way.

Hannah Phipps

Communications & Engagement Officer

Using her previous experience with delivering successful business marketing campaigns and content, Hannah supports the delivery of PR, events and digital communications activity across Innovation SuperNetwork.

Neil Armstrong

Graphic Designer

With a background in Art & Design, more than a decade’s experience in print and pre-press, and an art studio where he produces his own original work, Neil brings creative flair to the impactful and clear digital and printed visuals, which supports Innovation SuperNetwork’s many diverse projects and communications.

Whitney Thompson

Engagement & Events Officer

Using knowledge from her BA Hons degree in Events, Music and Media Management, Whitney supports the organisation and delivery of a wide range of different events and workshops. With experience in Social Media content creation, she is skilled at driving engagement across the Tees Valley and Innovation SuperNetwork brands.

Innovation Support

Graeme Miller

Head of Innovation

With over 20 years’ experience delivering and leading teams to deliver intensive business growth support, he has worked across all five regional universities, the public and private sectors and a role with the North East Satellite Application Centre. Graeme has significant strength of knowledge across the regional innovation landscape and leads our Innovation Support team working across the region’s key clusters.

Christine Jordan

Health Network North Innovation Manager

Christine works across the Innovation SuperNetwork and the Academic Health Science Network and is responsible for developing and expanding the Health Network North initiative – a programme of activity designed to connect businesses with innovation opportunities in the NHS.

Innovation Finance

Charlotte Scott

Senior Investor Relations Manager

Drawing upon her experience in debt finance, venture capital, and angel investment, Charlotte combines her financial sector knowledge with hands-on business experience working within start-ups to support businesses on their funding strategy. Charlotte connects entrepreneurs seeking funding with the investment ecosystem across the North and cultivates relationships with our angel investor network, the Northern Angel Hub.

Michelle Hambleton

Ecosystems Programme Manager

Michelle has a wealth of experience in business support, delivering publicly funded projects and helping hundreds of startup and scaleup companies to launch products and services over the last 15 years.  

Andrew Hodgson

Senior Innovation Manager

Andrew is an award-winning Product Designer specialising in sustainable, ethical and human-centred products. As Founder and CEO of iF.Vehicles, Andrew brings his experience as an entrepreneur to support other fledging companies through the Innovation SuperNetwork support portfolio, including in the energy sector and with Access to Finance.  

Parveer Pannu

Innovation Manager

Parveer works on our Digital Cluster Development project, providing specialist support to North of Tyne-based businesses seeking investment and funding for digital and tech innovation projects.

Karl Murray

Innovation Manager

With experience supporting some of the region’s most innovative companies and running their own tech startups, Karl works in the Access to Finance team, helping entrepreneurs with investor readiness and bridging the gap between companies and investment.

Innovation Challenge

Sarah Cox

Innovation Challenge Programme Lead

Sarah is a passionate Open Innovation specialist with  a breadth of knowledge in the development of successful innovation programmes and interventions across a range of sectors. She leads the delivery of Challenge North Tyne and her work combines best practice from design-led innovation, agile project management, lean start-up and systems thinking.

Lysa Morrison

Innovation Challenge Manager

Lysa has worked as a coach, facilitator, trainer or management consultant within every industry imaginable. She understands that business is people, so she combines her knowledge and experience of business with psychology to help bring out the best in people and organisations. She supports the delivery of the Challenge North Tyne project.

Charlotte Hope

Innovation Manager

Digital Cluster Programme

Wayne Bryant

Digital Cluster Programme Manager

With specialisms in innovation, intellectual property & technology transfer, Wayne works with North of Tyne-based businesses to support their adoption of, and work to develop, innovative tech solutions. He delivers across both the Digital Cluster Development project and the North of Tyne Innovation Recovery Grant.

Katrina Appleyard

Innovation Manager

As a business strategist who specialises in sustainability, Katrina works with leaders and senior teams to integrate environmental and social impact goals into their overall business strategy. At the SuperNetwork, Katrina spends time with growing and emerging digital businesses to help them embed good environmental and sustainable practice into their business models.  

Angela Lynch

Innovation Manager

An expert in design-thinking, Angela supports innovating businesses to connect, collaborate and tap into new market opportunities as part of the Digital Cluster Development project. 

Lynda Sale

Innovation Manager

Lynda has a background in the creative industries and brings with her expertise in brand and marketing to support innovating businesses as part of the Digital Cluster Development Project.

Our work is developed in Partnership and is led by our board of directors:

  • Estelle Blanks: CEO, Innovation SuperNetwork
  • Paul McEldon: Chief Executive, North East BIC
  • Yvonne Gale: Chair of the Government UK Small Business Commissioner’s Office
  • Jenny Taylor: Executive Director for Research and Innovation Services at Northumbria University

Board Observers

  • Mark Stamper – Head of Economic Delivery at North of Tyne Combined Authority
  • Colin Hewitt – Head of Company Commercial & Partner at Ward Hadaway
  • Sarah Glendinning – Regional Director at CBI
  • Sarah Slaven – Managing Director at Business Durham

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

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