Who we are

Paul Connell

Paul Connell

Founder of Open Innovations

Paul founded Open Innovations in 2013 with the mission to create a place and community to unleash the power of open data and deliver innovation across the region.

He is an entrepreneur who has built Open Innovations into a 21st century Institution and co-founded DataCity which is a Data as a service Company whilst running his own innovation company. His primary role at Open Innovations is twofold - providing the drive, direction and purpose for Open Innovations and leading and developing our Innovation Services.

Originally trained as an environmental scientist at Lancaster University and Imperial College he worked for British Coal, ICI and leading global consultancies and clients for nearly 20 years before transitioning his skills to apply them in the domains of Smart Cities, Open Data, Open Innovation and Innovation.

He is an accredited Cognitive Edge practitioner and applies these techniques in the Open Innovations Innovation practice.

Kathryn Connell

Kathryn Connell

Open Innovations Director

Kathryn's background is in media, marketing and communications. She started out many years ago as a media strategist at Omnicom in London. Now she looks after all the business strategy, comms, design, events and planning at Open Innovations: kathryn.connell@open-innovations.org

Tom Forth

Thomas Forth

Open Innovations Head of Data

Tom has a PhD in computational biology and now runs software and data consultancy imactivate. He is an associate at Open Innovations where he'll be happy to help you solve problems you have using data. He's particularly interested in data on housing, transport, and income inequality both within Leeds and across the UK and Europe. He blogs at tomforth.co.uk and keeps a more polished internet presence at imactivate.com.

Amy Evans

Amy Evans

Open Innovations Comms & Design

Amy has a background in the creative arts, specialising in digital illustration and animation. Projects have ranged from icon design and basic UI prototypes to illustrated maps and comics. Her interest in the world of data is based around telling stories with data and creating info-graphics. She is passionate about environmental and animal welfare issues, and thinks using data stories is the ideal way to reach audiences and change attitudes. At Open Innovations, she leads the charge in social media and comms, as well as being on hand for any visual work that might be needed.

Giles Dring

Giles Dring

Open Innovations Head of Delivery

Giles is an independent IT Consultant based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. He used to work for a large international corporation, and has a wealth of experience in designing and supporting large IT systems, particularly in the public sector.

He has been an Open Innovations associate since 2015, when he helped one of the Open Innovations partners work out how best to go about publishing Open Data. You’ll also meet him on the hack days and events.

He has a passion for local community, and in response to a couple of devastating flooding events in his town, he developed the Hebden Rising website which aimed to support the business community during recovery.

Stuart Lowe

Stuart Lowe

Open Innovations Data Projects

Stuart has a PhD in radio astronomy, has studied distant galaxies, helped build the European Space Agency's Planck spacecraft, worked on a global network of optical telescopes, published a book of infographics created from open data, and likes long cycle rides.

At Open Innovations, Stuart works on a range of projects using open data from visualising the Internet-of-things sector to mapping open datasets in the north of England to hex cartograms of election results and visualising future energy scenarios. He also built and maintains the website.

Patrick Lake

Patrick Lake

ODI Leeds Data Science Apprentice

Patrick tragically passed away in August 2021 and we celebrate his work and legacy with us here...

Grace Durkan

Grace Durkan

Events and Comms Coordinator

Grace is a recent BA English Literature graduate, who assists with sponsorship and events management.

Grace supports the Open Innovations team to deliver on its responsibilities to its sponsors. She ensures our sponsors receive the most out of their relationship with Open Innovations by working closely and communicating with them.

She is also responsible for assisting with the design, delivery, and management of any physical or virtual events.

Suzanne Schmidt

Susanne Schmidt

Communications and Data Analyst

Susanne has just finished her MSc in Consumer Analytics and Marketing Strategy at the University of Leeds, and has recently joined Open Innovations as a data analyst. Before this she has worked in media and marketing, and gained public sector experience working for a North German town hall.

Dan Billingsley

Daniel Billingsley

Open Innovations Data Projects/imactivate projects

Dan originally studied physics before obtaining a PhD in the field of biophysics. His postgraduate work centred around studying interactions between DNA and protein molecules with microscopy techniques.

At Open Innovations he works as a developer on collaborative projects that seek to use open data to solve problems and drive social, economic, and environmental change. He is particularly interested in data on transport, waste, and housing. One example of a project he has worked on is the Leeds Bins (~70,000 downloads) mobile app.

Michelle Brook

Michelle Brook

Open Data Associate

A former scientist, Michelle is passionate about the environment and our impact on the planet. She joined Open Innovations as an Associate in 2021 to lead our work on #PlanetData, and is also an associate at Icebreaker One and Chair of Open Data Manchester.

Michelle has over a decade's experience of working in not-for-profit organisations with clients including local authorities, central governments, multi-national organisations and the European Commission. Her work focusses on helping people, communities and organisations have greater access to the data, information, skills and opportunities to help them make better and more informed decisions.

When not working, Michelle spends her time outside as much as possible, including feeding local birds, swimming, cycling and kayaking.

Ali Morpeth

#OpenDataSavesLives Associate

At Open Innovations, Ali is an Associate for our work on #OpenDataSavesLives. In her experience we often have the tools and knowledge we need to address a lot of the challenges we face in health - all we need is to share them more widely and scale up what's proven to working. Opendata allows us to do this faster and make more impact, something Ali is passionate about.

Ali's work on #OpenDataSavesLives is supported by her wider work in public health. She has worked for large multinationals, UN institutions and NGOs on policy, behaviour change and advocacy initiatives. She is currently working on her PhD in early child nutrition.

When she's not at her laptop Ali enjoys getting lost on the Moor and swimming in the Wharfe with her Spaniel.

Nick Efford

University of Leeds / ODI Trainer

Nick started out as a physicist before PhD research analysing images from NASA's Viking & Voyager spacecraft drew him inexorably into the world of computing. He is now an academic in the School of Computing at the University of Leeds, with broad-ranging interests that currently encompass computer science education, software engineering, mobile technologies, computer security and, of course, open data. He is able to draw upon this extensive teaching experience in his role as an ODI trainer. Nick blogs occasionally at http://blog.efford.org, mainly about technical things. When he isn't hunched over a keyboard he'll more than likely be indulging his passion for music and tweeting via @python33r about a new CD or his latest gig.