Identifying opportunities for investment in the North

The keynote session brought together leading figures from the innovation and investment landscape to discuss the opportunity for both businesses and investors across the North. Diving into the challenges facing innovation finance in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic landscape, the session highlighted the opportunity to build funding channels that will enhance connectivity between businesses and the investment community.

A spotlight on North East regional sectors also provided key trends and insights for investors looking to expand their portfolios in health & life sciences, energy, digital, process innovation and social innovation.

Session speakers:

Catherine Lewis La Torre

Chief Executive Officer, British Business Bank

Catherine was appointed CEO of the British Business Bank in September 2020, having led the Bank’s commercial arm since 2016 as CEO of British Business Investments (BBI) and, from October 2018, CEO of both BBI and British Patient Capital.

Prior to 2016, Catherine was Head of Private Equity for Cardano Risk Management, managing a global portfolio of private capital investments on behalf of UK pension funds. She was previously Managing Director of Paris-based European private equity investor Fondinvest Capital, a founding partner of Nordic fund-of-funds manager Proventure, after which she established a consultancy business advising Sovereign Wealth Funds and Institutional Investors in Asia, the Middle East and the US on their European private capital strategies.

Catherine holds a First Class Honours degree in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Nigel Walker

Deputy Director, Lending and Investor Partnerships, Innovate UK

Nigel is part of the team delivering Innovate UK’s innovation loans and investor partnerships programmes. He is a director and member of the credit committee of Innovate UK Loans Ltd.  Prior to this role, he headed the organisation’s support for innovative SMEs in gaining access to private sector capital to accelerate the journey from concept to commercialisation.

Nigel has a background in the financial services industry, having qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Whinney and spent over 10 years at each of Deutsche Bank and GE Capital.  At GE, he established the European ‘Access GE’ programme, advising, coaching and mentoring management teams of businesses owned by private equity firms on operational excellence, acquisition integration, strategy development and leadership.

David Holmes

Membership Manager for North East and Yorkshire, Bionow

Dave joined Bionow in early 2018. Based in Seaham, County Durham, Dave works with Bionow members across the Northeast and Yorkshire helping connect members and create opportunities for  the regional life sciences community.  Access to investors is part of Dave’s role and he recently chaired a life science investment panel at The Biosphere in Newcastle, and in recent years he has helped shape Bionow’s annual BioCap Conference, which is a major conference aimed at introducing Life Science investors to companies based in northern England.

Carol Bell OBE

Strategic Advisor for the North of Tyne Cultural and Creative Sector Investment programme

Carol is the Strategic Advisor for the North of Tyne Cultural and Creative Sector Investment programme supported by North of Tyne Combined Authority. It  is a £2.625M programme of investment in the form of Loans, Equity and Grant aid along-side a targeted buisiness support programme. The objective of the programme is to create strong, resilient and sustainable Cultural and Creative businesses and freelancers.

Throughout her career she has developed and delivered many complex capital and revenue cultural and creative sector projects. As NewcastleGatesheads’s Director of Major Festivals & Events, Carol has lead and implemented on a number of successful initiatives including NewcastleGateshead’s successful bid to host Great Exhibition of the North which resulted in Newcastle and its partner town Gateshead being listed by the Rough Guide as the No1 Place to Visit in the World in 2018. Prior to that she worked for the Northern Rock Foundation – through its philanthropy – supporting many cultural organisations across the North. She was awarded an OBE in 2019 for services to the Cultural sector across the North East.

Alfredo Ramos

Managing Director, CPI Enterprises

Alfredo is Managing Director of CPI Enterprises, CPI’s investor engagement and ventures arm. Since its inception, CPI Enterprises (CPIE) has built a strong network of deep tech private investors, catalysing impactful investment and co-investing into high-growth early-stage companies at the forefront of science and technology innovation.  Alfredo has worked in diverse research and development, engineering and operational roles across a wide range of sectors including chemicals, pharma and energy. Alfredo brings key expertise in digital design and smart manufacturing having developed and commercialised digital applications as part of the leadership team of an Imperial College spin-out acquired by Siemens in 2019. He holds a graduate chemical engineering degree from RWTH Aachen University (Dipl.-Ing.) and an MBA, with distinction, from London Business School.

Anne Fry

Deputy Chief Executive, VONNE

Anne joined VONNE after a career in higher education. Her previous roles at Newcastle University included business development, project management and marketing and communications. She has a Masters Degree in Cultural Management.

She became Deputy Chief Executive in October 2019 after two-and-a-half years working as our Marketing and Communications Manager. Anne is a volunteer for Rape Crisis and a Trustee for Wearside Women in Need.

Jamie Hardesty

Head of Communications, Sunderland Software City

Jamie Hardesty is a tech communications specialist and business journalist in North East England. Jamie currently works as Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement at Sunderland Software City, supporting the creation and growth of digital-tech companies in the region.

Previously Entrepreneur Engagement Manager at Tech Nation, Jamie has supported the scaling of tech-based companies in both the North East and across the UK as a whole. Formerly the Editor of business news platform bdaily, Jamie is passionate about investigative journalism, especially in channelling quantitative and qualitative research projects into stimulating socioeconomic improvements. Jamie has spent the last few years publishing data-led research on the North East tech sector specifically to help support regional growth.

David Lynch

Energy Innovation Partnership Manager

David has 15 years’ experience working in the energy sector and attained a MA by Research at Durham University in 2014.  Having worked at National Energy Action (NEA) and the Energy Systems Catapult David is skilled in business planning, environmental awareness and project management. David look up the position of Energy Innovation Partnership Manager at the North East LEP in October 2019 and is leading on the North East Energy Catalyst programme, a ground-breaking partnership to unite the North East’s leading energy innovation demonstration and delivery capabilities.