The Unconventional Connections team
We have proven ability to assemble teams of partners and associates with the range of capabilities you will need to draw on.
CEO and Lead Consultant: Dr Nick Rousseau
I spent 20-years in a wide range of policy roles in the UK Government. For the last five years, I was Head of International Innovation Strategy at the UK Government Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. While there I:
Commissioned and led the development of strategic frameworks for international collaboration relating to High Value Manufacturing and Agritech – working with Institute for Manufacturing and FERA.
Organised the largest ever UK-Brazil innovation round table.
Set up G8 Innovation Conference and UK-US Financing Innovation event bringing a group of US Venture Capital fund managers to the UK for the Olympics.
Developed a range of Government strategy documents - International Further Education, FE and Preventing Violent Extremism, the international collaboration chapter of UK Government Innovation Strategies for two successive years.
Travelled with our Science Minister and Government Chief Scientific Advisor to support them in multilateral science summits, preparing detailed briefing across all areas covered - from ocean science to antimicrobial resistance to climate change.
I have developed over many years a keen interest in supporting more sustainable food solutions – I founded and ran a local food growing cooperative for 5 years where we grew a range of organic produce, worked in the Sheffield Junk Food Project.
After hearing about the potential of insect protein to address the global protein production challenges, in 2014 I founded the Woven Network CIC - UK's (international) network focused on supporting entrepreneurs and researchers working on the opportunities around insects for food and feed. As a result I have built an extensive international network of people involved in this, a solid understanding of the many issues and opportunities facing the sector. I have been asked to speak about the potential of insect protein in the Houses of Parliament, at Chatham House and at academic and business conferences.
In 2016 I left Government to set up Unconventional Connections Ltd. Where I have worked as a CEO/consultant, delivering projects for a range of public and private clients. My consultancy work has a strong focus on helping developing countries' food production to be more sustainable and he has developed a broad network of contacts and experts to support this.
Significant, relevant projects I and the wider Unconventional Connections team have delivered include:
In partnership with Finovista, prepared and submitted a proposal to Invest India to provide commercial readiness assessments and commercialisation coaching and support for food/agri technologies developed in India
For the WWF Funded FeedX programme. Judged submissions from insect farming companies regarding their potential to provide sustainable alternatives to fishmeal for the aquaculture sector.
Formed a consortium with University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing, Stirling University and Zero Waste Scotland to bid to WWF to create a roadmap for insect farming expansion in the UK.
For the Department for International Development (DFID). Consulting on and developing a strategic approach to engaging with a range of Indian, Chinese and global domestic appliance companies that will enable a rapid increase in the availability of electric cooking devices across the developing world
For DFID. Mapping UK energy technology company strengths to developing country needs and developing proposals for programmes that could harness that for real impact in the developing world
For the North-East Local Enterprise Partnerships. Carried out a review of a proposed Innovation Delivery Partnerships model for driving economic growth in the region, including making recommendations for piloting the approach
I hold BA, MSc and PhD degrees in psychology from the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield and Loughborough with a focus on psychology and user centred system development.
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 a qualified coach.
Luke was one of the small team to research and draft the report for DFID:
Nick Rousseau, Kerry Dickinson, Luke Owen, Jonathan Cloke, Antony Davies and Fay Kenworthy, February 2019 Potential for Application of UK Energy-Related Technologies to Developing Countries.
This involved developing an understanding of the clean energy technology needs of Sub- Saharan Africa and SE Asia and the barriers to take-up of available technologies.
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.