The Unconventional Connections team
We have assembled a group of partners and associates with the range of capabilities you will need to draw on.
International Collaboration Project Management consultant: Antony Davies
Antony has extensive experience in the field of international technology transfer and trans-national collaborative partnerships, having until recently, been a director and co-owner of an innovation and technology transfer consultancy in the North of England. During his 16 years with the consultancy, Antony developed expertise in European Innovation and R&D funding, supporting client companies to build trans-national collaborative projects. His work in this area led Antony to deliver technology transfer and research funding training and workshops throughout Europe, and as far afield as Russian and Japan. Antony has also extensive experience of bid management and proposal writing, and has managed a number of international technology transfer programmes and projects.
Working with the public and private sectors, Antony has developed an understanding of the drivers of both, and has developed and managed innovation funding support schemes for Regional Development Agencies in the UK.
These experiences have helped Antony to build an extensive network of technology transfer professionals in Europe and beyond, with whom collaborations can be built and expertise and relationships developed.
Antony recently set up his own consulting practice and now undertakes assignments for public sector and private sector clients, supporting business growth and expansion.
Innovation and Organisation Design Consultant: Luke Owen
Luke worked for ten years at the centre of UK Government where he developed UK policy for innovation and managed relationships with key UK innovation bodies on behalf of Government.
During his time in Government, Luke worked with Lord Heseltine on his review of UK competitiveness, managed ministerial offices, developed national innovation strategies and represented UK interests at the European Commission.
He is a trained facilitator and also offers skills around stakeholder engagement, strategy development and project delivery. Having lived, worked and travelled widely in Asia, Luke has an appreciation for working with different cultures and understanding their needs and preferred ways of doing business.
He has a particular passion for helping organisations and individuals to develop and expand their potential. He recently set up his own consultancy practice, focussed on executive coaching, change management and organisational development.
In his spare time, he is a volunteer Non-Executive Director at a Community Interest Company that turns waste materials into furniture and provides employment for disadvantaged individuals.
Luke has a post-graduate qualification in Organisational Development, an MSc in Environmental Sustainability, the APM qualification in Project Management and is completing his accreditation to become a qualified coach.
Collaboration with China consultant: Liz Smedley
Liz Smedley has experience spanning 25 years working with Chinese suppliers and more recently exporters selling to Chinese buyers. A graduate in Chinese, Liz has delivered Chinese language and culture training courses through UKTI North East, and supported market visits for small businesses new to the China market. The opportunities to converse freely with Chinese colleagues over 3 decades have provided a detailed picture of how British businesses are approached by Chinese partners, and these insights are woven into workshops or consultancy projects.
Liz has a further specialism in sustainability, particularly the implementation of social and environmental standards in supply chains. She has been a Trustee of the Fairtrade Foundation, a member of the Certification committee for Fairtrade and has worked extensively for the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) supporting their China programme. ETP members include Twinings, Starbucks, Tetley and many other well known brands. Through working with rural factories and tea farmers in China, Liz has a practical understanding of the structure of Chinese agriculture both politically and on the ground.
Liz is also a director of Demeter Water Solutions, a water management specialist company which implements effective strategies to monitor and minimise water use by businesses. Demeter has developed data processing software, to remotely monitor water usage that is now applied to electricity, gas, solar generation and other uses.
Collaboration with China consultant: Feranita
Feranita has over 10 years of experience working with family firms as an external consultant, specifically on managing internal human relations consisting dynamics of family and nonfamily members within firm and external relations with customers/suppliers from China, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Taiwan, UK, and US. In terms of external relations, she advised a number of firms in Indonesia on the cultural differences in dealing with customers/supplies of different nationalities.
Over the last 3 years, she worked along side projects on international R&D collaborations between UK and Chinese organizations. During which, she observed the obstacles and success factors when UK firms trying to enter China and building a long-lasting fruitful relationship.
With a mixed background, she is fluent in English, Mandarin (both simplified and traditional Chinese), and Indonesian.
Having lived in several different countries, she is very apt in attuning to cultural differences and building of relationship with people from diverse background.
She is currently a PhD student based in Lancaster, working on the topic of collaborative innovation in family firms.
She holds an MBA degree from Singapore, Master of Research in Management Science from Spain, and Bachelor of Business and Economics from Indonesia.
Facilitation and Vocational Skills Policy Expert: Catherine Paulson-Ellis
Catherine has over 20 years’ experience as a civil servant and is now combining work as a strategic consultant focused on adult skills policy and commissioning with a part-time teaching role in Sheffield College. She is a trained and qualified facilitator and teacher.
Her recent work includes:
Skills devolution: supporting Sheffield City Region to develop new skills commissioning arrangements for the devolved adult education budget.
· Bid advice, drafting and quality assurance: reviewed and improved tenders for the Education and Training Foundation and National Numeracy to secure funding for major projects from the Department of Education.
· Digital entitlement: advice on the implications of the new entitlement to basic digital skills training for Combined Authorities and the Good Things Foundation.
· Devising and delivering decision-making workshops for a range of clients, including BIS skills directors and CEO Good Things.
As a civil servant, Catherine specialised in education and skills for adults and young people across vocational education, basic skills and pre-employment training. She worked closely with the Department of Work and Pensions to set up initiatives to train unemployed people and brought together Work Programme and skills providers to improve the delivery of pre-employment training. She extended the scope and range of the Government’s evidence base on basic skills, including negotiating with the OECD andestablishing a new £3m research centre with the Behavioural Insights Team which has published ground-breaking research on motivating young people and adults in education and training. See ASK RCT reportfor a summary of some of the results.
Experienced Innovation and Science Policy Advisor and workshop facilitator: Fay Kenworthy
Fay is an experienced policy advisor, who has worked within the civil service and private sector providing expert advice on issues ranging from innovation and risk through to women's health and drones. She has ten years of experience working within the UK Government with the last two as a Science Policy Advisor at the Government Office for Science (GOScience).
She worked on setting up and running large stakeholder workshops and then producing GOScience’s 2016 annual report on waste and resource productivity and worked across government on policy implementation.
Organised and facilitated a workshop of 150 senior representatives from acedemia, business, government and the third sector on waste and sustainability.
Developed an action plan in partnership with Defra to commission, produce and deliver a year long deep-dive report into waste and resource productivity issues.
Built and maintained relationships with senior stakeholders to ensure impact and continue to deliver action plan objectives.
Her focus has been ensuring that reports derived from extensive research initiatives have an impact in shaping future policy.
She also led on convening senior level round-tables in conjunction with the Royal Society on drones and machine learning.
Facilitated and organised ministerial level round table on food wast.
Fay’s previous work included delivering large digital skills projects within the Home Office, including as a training consultant and as a business change manager. She devised and delivered training, workshops and facilitation sessions to staff across the Home Office, at embassies internationally and to external commercial partners on digital transformation and business change.
We also have a small team of Researchers who can investigate opportunities and technologies - Jack Wood, Sarah Rousseau and Flossie Rousseau.