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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 26-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. 

Junior Consultants: Anna Cox and Shunru (Sierra) Chen

Shunru: I hold MSc degree from the university of Sheffield and now I am doing my Phd in Economic from the HUFS (Exchanged to Korea University ) with a focus on International trade and commerce. 


As the leader for a student project, I set up a beauty e-commerce O2O project (Rumi Nuomi Japanese), researched 200+ selected products, discovered the pain points of Japanese beauty, monitored and adjusted the marketing strategy, successfully increased the market share by 8%, prompted a 112% increase in profit, and increased the added value of the company by 256%.  I was invited to participate in project matching and negotiation activities of the 4th Internet+ Student Entrepreneurship Competition - Guangdong Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition, finally obtained an investment of RMB200,000 from investors and RMB10,000 from the local government, and finally, the project was awarded a national project and successfully completed the closing work.

Working in China State Enterprise Employment (South China Technology Commercialization Center) I completed a capacity building study, in which I proposed operational, HR and self-regulation measures for businesses and combined the study with suggestions and measures for local governments to regulate the capacity evaluation of technology managers.  I also prepared a research report on the situation and challenges relating to IP policies in Guangdong Province, providing advice for the formulation of industrial and regional IP policies in the Province.

Web Team: Sarah Rousseau and Ben Pope

Graphic Design: Jack Tait

I am a graphic designer that is highly interested in typographical design, brand identity, campaign design, and editorial design. My practice has currently been involved in branding and campaigning design, having the fortunate opportunity to be working alongside the UKEIA team in developing a new strategy for their brand identity. In the role I have gained valuable experience in client facing work, understanding the design needs and refinement strategies towards key marketing deliverables.


Recently finished my graduate degree at Leeds Arts University, where in my final year I worked with the Student Union as part of the Sustainability Officer Executive. Within this role I liaised with the Union and was part of the student voice for sustainable advocacy within the University. Paired experience of both of these roles I have been able to grasp ways of implementing campaign and identity design whilst considering sustainable approaches.

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