Northernlands 4: Speakers

  • Stuart Clarke

    Festival Director, Leeds Digital Festival

    I help tech scaleups to tell their stories and startups to build their brands. I'm also the Director of Leeds Digital Festival, a non-executive director of startups, and passionate about raising the profile of the north of England's tech sector by working collaboratively across cities.

  • Lieke Conijn

    Startup Liaison Officer, Embassy of the Netherlands in London

    I inform about the Eco-system in the UK and give you the best of the Dutch Eco-system.

  • Paul Connell

    Founder, Open Innovations (formerly ODI Leeds)

    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.

  • Rebecca Crow

    Health and Life Sciences Sector Lead at Invest Newcastle

    Leading the health and life sciences investment initiative in Newcastle and the wider North of Tyne region

  • Dawn Dunn

    Senior Investment Manager, Invest Newcastle

    On a mission to help digital & tech companies to locate, grow and scale in Newcastle.

  • Tom Forth

    Co-founder & CTO, Data City

    Tom manages the team responsible for data quality and data analysis at The Data City. 

    The machine learning algorithms that define RTICs and much more are extensions of his PhD in computational biology and are continually being improved and added to by the R&D team that he manages.

  • Dan Graf

    CEO & Co-Founder of Earthchain

    Founder at #ClimateFintech startup Earthchain. Expert in payments technology. Previously co-founder and Head of Product at payments software vendor Infraxis. 

  • James Gupta

    CEO of Synap

    CEO of Synap, an online training platform that helps organisations deliver personalised, effective & engaging training. I'm a (non-practising) medical doctor, having left this year to work full time on Synap, an online education platform that uses AI and neuroscience insights to help students learn more in less time. 

    My co-founder and I came across the idea in our second year of university, whilst looking for a more engaging and efficient way to study. Having found a method that worked - creating, practising and sharing short quizzes with each other - we built it into a simple app. More than happy to offer advice on crowdfunding, technology strategy/app development and generally 'getting started' for new entrepreneurs. Feel free to get in touch.
  • Kriya Mehta

    International Relations Lead at StartupAmsterdam at the City of Amsterdam

    Kriya is the International Relations Lead at StartupAmsterdam at the City of Amsterdam. Kriya facilitates Amsterdam's relationship with Europe and the rest of the world by actively engaging with fellow city officials and ecosystem experts, organising events, hosting delegations, and managing the SCALE Cities network of all major European Startup Hubs.

  • Pete Mills

    Executive Director, Crysp

    I am a people-focused leader having grown entrepreneurial & mission-led businesses over the last 10 years. I consider myself very fortunate to have been trusted by owners and decision-makers to lead transformation projects in their businesses across a whole spectrum of size, sector and location which has given me a phenomenal network to continue building, growing and nurturing the businesses I am involved with. 

    From working with entrepreneurs setting out with a bootstrapped product, with only sheer belief & willpower in the bank account that their concepts will work. Right the way through to the other end with multinational corporations using similar principles of start-up to launch new products and services or to transform and scale up existing ones. The experience has been rich and varied. What I have learnt along the way has been invaluable but the core principle is that it is all about people. You can have the best idea in the world but you need the right team to make things happen inside your business.

    Always happy to have a coffee to share my experience and talk about new opportunities.

  • Mitali Mookerjee

    CEO & Founder, CastRooms

    Mitali is CEO & Founder at CastRooms - an early-stage music-tech startup that connects live DJs to their fans in an online clubbing experience for groups of friends that's joyful and fun. She is also the Co-Chair at MAP Charity, alternative music and arts education charity for at-risk young people in Leeds. Mitali has over 16 years' of business management and commercial experience. Prior to Founding CastRooms, Mitali was Managing Director of a triple-patented, B2B SaaS company serving the Business Information Industry. She ran a commercial business unit at Progressive Digital Media Group responsible for the distribution and subscriptions of 30+ magazines including the New Statesman. Mitali was the Director of Partners & Alliances for Datamonitor in New York. Mitali was also Non-Exec Director at an award-winning social enterprise, The Big Lemon, which launched Europe's first solar-powered bus service in 2017. Mitali holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Physics and an MSc (Hons) in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, both from the University of Manchester.

  • Amy Morgan

    Ecosystem Manager, Barclays Eagle Labs

    My passion is supporting the growth of the UK's entrepreneurial ecosystem by enhancing collaboration between members and my local network, creating opportunities through running dedicated events and connecting our innovative members with mentors and investors enabling them to soar on their growth journey. 

  • Revannth Murugesan

    Co-founder & CEO of Antonym

    Rev is an engineer-turned entrepreneur currently leading ANTONYM, a Leeds-based advanced manufacturing tech start-up that is on a mission to hyper-localise manufacturing with Metal 3D Printing to meet the growing demand to produce locally, as well as tackle the climate change crisis.

    He is an alumni of TechNation, NatWest Accelerator, and SPARK start-up incubator. Apart from being a founder, he is also a start-up mentor supporting various UK-based tech companies in programmes like the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) REAP, and enjoys being a tech keynote speaker. He is very passionate about GreenTech, 3D Printing, and Industry 4.0. You can connect with him on his LinkedIn: or his Twitter:

  • Rebecca O'Higgins

    Founder of KI-AH-NA

    I'm Rebecca KI-AH-NA's founder. KI-AH-NA means ancient in old Irish and I've interpreted it to stand for Strength. A qualified makeup artist, product and digital project specialist with a decade of experience representing some of the biggest beauty brands in the world from Victoria's Secret, to YSL Beauty and MAC Cosmetics, Stila in Dublin, Vancouver, London and Leeds.

    I retrained in digital marketing with CIM and later attained my MBA (Executive) with distinction. Clients, colleagues, friends and family feel frustrated and confused by cosmetic products and technology. Technology and digital products offer us and our communities more and more information daily, yet there is no holistic approach that supports all level of digital literacy. In this knowledge gap KI-AH-NA works to create Digital Equity.

  • Kamran Rashid

    CEO, Impact Hub Bradford

    A visionary social innovator and compassionate leader in the third sector noted for work across the voluntary, social enterprise, non-profit, diversity & inclusion and public sector ecosystems.

    My current focus will be scaling up Impact Hub Bradford to drive the development of new programmes of support, convening new events as well as growing our membership and contributing our perspectives to the global Impact hub network. At the LEP I'm intending to push for inclusive growth across the region through the lens of social innovation. Finally, my role at the 2025 City of Culture will be to ensure Bradford is best positioned to become the host city and in a manner that includes all the city's communities.

  • Richelle Schuster

    Head of Programme - Innovation, Leeds City Council

    Brings a creative and commercial perspective to new challenges. Extensive leadership experience in the public and private sector managing complex programmes and stakeholder dynamics. Track record of building successful partnerships and national programmes; maintaining the energy and momentum required to deliver real outcomes.

  • Barry Singleton

    Engagement Officer, Nexus

    Barry works to promote and manage our growing membership. He is a partnerships specialist and has over 20 years’ experience in business development, customer service and communications. Barry has first-hand experience of Nexus and how it can help start-ups and entrepreneurs to develop and grow. He was formerly Chief Relationship Officer at Scaled Insights and played a leading role in the business’ decision to join the Nexus community. He is a big advocate of Leeds as a great place to start and scale businesses, and is able to offer a valuable ‘clients eye’ view to our current and prospective members.

  • Bob Spence

    International Business Development, C4DI

    I am a speaker, writer, consultant, coach, trainer and non-executive director in the field of SaaS business development. I trade as Get Spence International Ltd. Fellow co-founderAleksander Góra and I developed an award winning business development platform. Being in C4DI enabled us to access support and attention we believe might have been unavailable in the London Tech scene. C4DI is 50-minutes from Doncaster Airport which has direct flights to 11 major Central European cities. This met the needs of our business development plan and talent network requirement. (I also surf to a pro-am level, play slide guitar and follow the LA Rams).

  • Julian Tait

    Chief executive officer, Open Data Manchester

    Julian is a passionate advocate for technologies that build stronger communities, encourage new forms of economic activity and give people a stake in decision-making. He’s spent more than a decade creating projects that prove the benefits of open and accessible data. While working at FutureEverything, Julian co-developed Manchester’s Open Data Cities programme, and he’s been involved with many local, national and international initiatives. He is a co-author of the Open Data Handbook, The Open Book and other papers.

  • Saile Villegas

    Co-founder, Seeai

    I am currently Director at Seeai, supporting the delivery of AI to public services in large-scale healthcare organisations.

  • Gary Woodhead

    CEO & Co-Founder, CurveBlock

    With over 29 years construction industry experience, not only within the real estate development market but also other development sectors such as Commercial, Industrial & Agricultural developments. Along with Gary's extensive construction experience & knowledge he's also deeply involved in the world of Blockchain. Successfully scaled one of Europe's largest building materials manufactories over 4000% leading to a private equity buyout during 2016.


Nothernlands 4 is a collaboration between Open Innovations and The Kingdom of the Netherlands, the start of activity to create, support, and amplify the cultural links between The Netherlands and the North of England. It is with their generous and vigourous support, and the support of other energetic organisations, that Northernlands can be delivered.

  • Kingdom of the Netherlands

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