We assembled some of the North’s digital elite to be on the inaugural Digital City Festival steering panel. They advised, supported and helped to shape our week-long programme of events across Manchester in March 2020.
Find out more about the 2020 steering panel below.
Herb Kim, Founder & Curator, TEDxManchester
Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Herb is best known as the Founder of TEDxManchester and Thinking Digital Conference which have grown to become two of the largest and most influential thought leadership events in the UK. He is also an investor in three Manchester-based tech startups.
In addition, Herb is also the Founder of TEDxLiverpool, TEDxNewcastle and the Liverpool Binary Festival. He is a Trustee for the Sage Gateshead Music Centre and the Visiting Professor of Innovation & Enterprise at Newcastle University Business School. He is a former Board Director for Tech City UK and the Founding Chairman for Tech North.
In 2010, Herb’s work on Thinking Digital & TEDxManchester earned him a spot in the MediaGuardian Top 100. In 2011, Wired Magazine included Herb as one it’s Wired 100 top tech industry influencers. In 2014, Buzzfeed included Herb on its list of “Geordie Heroes”.Herb earned his MBA from the Wharton School of Business and his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He moved to the UK in 1997 and is currently based between Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.
“We founded TEDxManchester back in 2009 and it’s been a pleasure to see Manchester grow massively over the past 10 years in both size and influence as a digital city making its mark on the UK and wider world. As such the time is right for an ambitious event like the Digital City Festival to take root and help bring the tech world together in Manchester in 2020.”
Jo Graham, CIO, Boohoo Group
Jo Graham has worked in Technology roles for over 20 years, she has a wide range of sector experience having worked for companies such as Lloyds Banking Group, Capita, Bupa, Morrisons and more latterly Boohoo in Manchester.
“Digital and all things digital in one place is a great opportunity to learn, showcase and celebrate what is being achieved and it’s fantastic for Manchester to be holding their inaugural festival – finally the great work and success that has been going on for years moves to the limelight!”
Sam Booth, Chief Executive, pro-manchester
At pro-manchester, Sam has been an integral part of its growth from a small, effective membership network to a sophisticated business development organisation. A firm part of the Manchester business community, Sam is a familiar face to most, constantly and efficiently working to bring businesses together in the city region. As chief executive, Sam is responsible for the organisation’s corporate engagement as well managing all existing key partnerships and member relationships. Whilst providing support to her team, Sam manages the day-to-day running and strategic direction of the business.
Sam also sits on the board of trustees for Forever Manchester, a charity that supports community activity across Greater Manchester. As well as this, Sam also sits on the City of Trees Executive Advisory Group and the Greater Manchester Organisational Representatives Group. More recently, Sam has become the Regional Deputy Chair of TheCityUK, where she helps to engage on a regional level on behalf of individuals in the financial and professional services industries.
“Manchester’s first ever Digital Festival is a fantastic opportunity to bring together and showcase the City’s exceptional digital sector and further strengthen the ambition to be the leading digital city.”
“With a wealth of expertise and talent in attendance this inaugural event will provide the perfect platform to network, learn and explore the latest innovations at the heart of Manchester’s digital scene.”
Tim Newns, Chief Executive, MIDAS
Tim has been Chief Executive of MIDAS since 2011, having originally joined the company as a Business Development Manager in 2005. MIDAS has a strategic aim to secure significant levels of new investment and employment for the city region. This is achieved through the global business marketing of Manchester, targeting key markets and sectors, and the provision of an extensive, free and confidential package of advice and assistance for location consultants and potential investors. Over the 14 years Tim has been at MIDAS, Greater Manchester has become the most invested UK city outside London, with record results over the last year.
Prior to working at MIDAS, Tim worked in business development in the UK and then as a journalist with the Cape Argus newspaper in Cape Town and the Daily Times in Lahore, Pakistan before joining the Commercial Department of the Foreign Office in India.
Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester
Sheona is the Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, the agency charged with promoting Greater Manchester on the national and international stage to visitors, investors, conference organisers and students. Sheona works with key partners including VisitBritain, DIT, MAG, airlines, businesses and destinations, as well as Greater Manchester’s key education, cultural and sporting brands, to raise the profile of Greater Manchester as a global city and its position as gateway to the north of England across five priority markets: USA, India, China, the GCC and Europe.
Sheona holds several board posts within Greater Manchester including the Science and Industry Museum, City of Trees, Manchester India Partnership, Manchester China Forum, Manchester’s Business Improvement District, and The Growth Company’s International Marketing Advisory Board.
Liz Scott, Head of Entrepreneur Engagement, Tech Nation
Liz is Head of Entrepreneur Engagement at Tech Nation. After having spent more time than she cares to admit in suits and corporate boardrooms, she is enjoying looking after the UK’s tech founders on a full time basis. She leads a national team across 11 different regions of the UK who are focused on finding and supporting tech founders to rapidly grow and scale their businesses.
Liz was previously Head of Digital & Innovation for EY across the north of England, where she spent 3 years working on disrupting the global professional services firm from the inside, including spinning up new products from MVP, and supporting corporate clients to do the same. She is a self-confessed tech fanatic with a particular soft-spot for retail, e-comm & a relentless customer focus.
“Manchester has got an absolutely thriving digital eco-system, and in my role I am lucky enough to both be privy to the whole picture across the city and also see how it compares to others across the UK. There is a lot to be proud of in Manchester’s status as a truly digital city – we are one of the most developed and self-sustaining tech eco-systems outside of London. However there is always more we could do, and I think that bringing the whole city together under the umbrella of this festival will be hugely positive.”
Jon Corner, Chief Digital Officer, City of Salford & CEO The Landing MediaCityUK
Jon is CDO for the City of Salford leading an ambitious vision to position Salford as a truly Digital City across infrastructure, inclusivity, skills, enterprise, health and smart city integration. He will determine strategy, priorities, themes and investment areas that will make a difference to Salford’s economy and its collaborative digital role in Greater Manchester. Salford is racing to become one of the world’s most attractive cities for digital enterprise – in 2017 it surpassed London to become the UK’s leading city for percentage increase in start-up growth and is expected to have the fastest job increase rate in Greater Manchester. Most recently Jon has been instrumental in co-ordinating a 5G Innovation Hub at MediaCityUK and in helping to establish the UK’s first operational commercial 5G network with partners VodafoneUK.
Jon is also CEO of The Landing MediaCityUK, a groundbreaking technology and business innovation hub housing over 90 companies. The Landing is a unique blended environment of co-work and technical space and is a driver of digital collaboration across Manchester and other UK clusters. In 2016-17 The Landing contributed £89m GVA to the UK digital economy.
In 2009-10 as Director of MediaCityUK for the University of Salford he spearheaded the fit-out and technology platform of the University’s iconic new digital campus. With a background in Creative Direction and Production Jon has successfully delivered a multitude of national and international film and rich media projects for such clients as The Home Office, The British Council, Unesco, BBC, CBS and Shanghai World Expo amongst many others. His detailed knowledge and expertise spans broadcast, post-production, interactive and advertising. As an entrepreneur Jon set up the highly successful River Media production studio in 2002, quadrupling its income and growth in the first 2 years of operation. He has since supported many tech and digital creative companies to become scaled businesses and has mentored over 120 companies since 2012.
“Greater Manchester is already the digital powerhouse of the North and the most vibrant digital tech talent centre in the UK outside of London.”
“The Digital City Festival represents an opportunity to showcase further what Manchester has to offer and become a signifier of the region’s international ambitions as a world innovation city. The Festival will be that convener, bringing together innovation talent, entrepreneurs, growth companies, thought leaders and disrupters. I’m delighted to contribute to the steering panel and to help demonstrate how every aspect of the digital community across Greater Manchester is interwoven with the strategic policy ambitions for the region. Manchester has a unique voice and the Festival provides a superb city stage.”
Dr Kirsty Fairclough, Reader In Screen Studies: School of Digital Arts (SODA), Manchester Metropolitan University
A speaker, author and event curator, Kirsty researches in the areas of representation in popular culture, celebrity studies and popular music with an emphasis on the life and legacy of Prince. She is Chair of Manchester Jazz Festival.
Kirsty has published widely on popular culture and is the co-editor of The Music Documentary: Acid Rock to Electropop (Routledge), The Arena Concert: Music, Media and Mass Entertainment (Bloomsbury) and Music/Video: Forms, Aesthetics, Media. New York, (Bloomsbury) and author of the forthcoming Beyoncé: Celebrity Feminism and Popular Culture (I.B Tauris) and co-author of American Cinema: A Contemporary Introduction (Palgrave). Kirsty’s work has been published in Senses of Cinema, Feminist Media Studies, SERIES and Celebrity Studies journals and has been featured on BBC 4, BBC Manchester, and in The Guardian and Creative Review amongst others.
She is the co-curator of Sound and Vision: Pop Stars on Film and the curator of In Her View: Women Documentary Filmmakers film seasons at HOME, Manchester.
“Greater Manchester is a place of innovation and inspiration and I am delighted to be joining the Digital City Steering Panel to bring together the digital community in all of its forms.”
“Through my experience in arts and cultural leadership across the city region I hope to bring a diverse perspective and connectivity to the Festival. Digital City Festival will no doubt reflect the city’s digital community; vibrant, ambitious and inspiring.”
Aine McTiernan, PwC Scale | North Lead
Aine has been working with and for SMEs in the digital and tech sector for the last 6 years. Following a stint working in e-commerce in Europe, she officially caught the bug and has spent the last couple of years firmly immersed in the Northern startup ecosystem. Aine co-founded the PwC Scale team in 2016, and since then, the team have worked with over 250 fast-growth businesses across the UK to support them in upskilling their management teams and connecting them to corporates to drive mutually beneficial commercial opportunities.
Aine is passionate about supporting the technology SME sector to flourish and is considered an advocate for the sector.
“I am thrilled to see Manchester launch the Digital City Festival – we have so many talented individuals and exciting fast-growing businesses to showcase locally, and I hope this will be a platform to come together and celebrate the region whilst also taking time to reflect on what we still need to develop as we continue to grow.”
“I’m looking forward to playing a small part in curating the Festival and working together to showcase what has been built here – it’s an exciting time for the city!”
Amy Newton, Founder, Inclusively Tech
After spending nearly a decade recruiting for the Tech Community in Manchester, Amy is the Founder of Inclusively Tech. Based in Media City, Inclusively Tech is committed to enabling start-ups, scale-ups and tech teams hire directly specifically with a focus on URM and from the wider Manchester area. Amy organises several Meet-UPs and events in the city and has spoken in the UK and Europe about Manchester Tech and the thriving ecosystem our region has to offer.
“This festival is affording us the publicity, the platform, and the people to showcase the talent and innovation that ripples through our city. Manchester has a rich heritage of doing things differently and we’ve got tonnes to be proud of. Whether we’re at the loom or the laptop – we’re disruptive without losing the innate sense of fairness and strength that runs through our city’s veins. If you’re in Manchester and part of the tech/digital ecosystem – this is your chance to stand with us and show the world what we’re made of.”
Stuart Clarke, Festival Director, Leeds Digital
Stuart is the co-founder of a successful marketing and PR consultancy, working with firms in the digital, professional services, financial and arts sectors. His 20+ years corporate career saw him running marketing and corporate relationships departments for the likes of Alliance & Leicester, first direct and TD Bank of Canada. He is a non-executive director and adviser to a number of startups, including JigTalk, Synap and Soc, and has helped startups to raise funds, through crowdfunding, angels and VCs.He is also the co-founder and the Festival Director of the Leeds Digital Festival, the largest tech event in the UK. In 2019, the Festival had 240 events and 25,000 attendees, with more tech events in Leeds than in San Francisco, Boston and New York. The annual Tech Nation report saw him named by startups as the most influential person in Leeds.
“It’s important that Northern cities collaborate with each other and I’m looking forward to seeing how the Leeds Digital Festival can forge links with Manchester’s Digital City Festival”
Katy Leeson, Managing Director, Social Chain
Katy Leeson is the Managing Director of Social Chain, an IPA woman of tomorrow finalist and former head of new Business and Marketing at MediaCom. Social Chain is a Global Social Media Marketing Agency, working with some of the largest brands in the world including Sky Bet, E Entertainment, Superdry, Holland & Barrett and Häagen-Dazs.
Katy’s impressive career and accomplishments led her to secure the managing director’s position after just six months at Social Chain. Katy has developed a number of new initiatives within Social Chain’s existing structure since her appointment, such as Data Chain which has become a key focus for growth and source of revenue since its onset. Not only has she secured a number of key retainers for the business, but a large proportion of her time is invested into focusing on culture. Katy has bought a number of policies into Social Chain which have allowed for the seamless expansion of the business and its culture across its five locations. Katy has been on her own inspiring journey since discovering she suffers from imposter syndrome and now shares the inner secrets of a woman in a predominantly male role online which has lead to her growing a social following who nominated her for the Women Role Models list of 2019 which is a list of high achieving women who are breaking down barriers at work and clearing the path to success for fellow women.
“I’m incredibly proud to be part of Manchester’s Digital City Festival. I’m hugely passionate about showcasing Manchester’s talent base and demonstrating that you can look to the North for some of the most creative and inspirational agencies in the UK.”
Lauren Coulman, Founder and CEO, Noisy Cricket C.I.C
Noisy Cricket builds people-powered movements through bringing diverse voices together to create social change. Working purposefully and collectively on the root causes of social issues, founder Lauren Coulman and the team work to engineer strategic and cross-sector responses to systemic, cultural and personal challenges in our society, all with impacted people at the heart of the solutions designed.
“Tech is now central to our lives. Whilst tech’s growth is central to our economic prosperity as a region, its also going to have a massive impact on people. Skills, house prices, connection, equity… The potential impact is huge, so big questions need to be asked, not just of what kind of tech we’re creating, but how we’re creating it and for what purpose. As the birthplace of the industrial revolution, this city has huge potential, so people wanting to be involved in shaping that… should do.”
Lou Cordwell OBE, Founder & CEO, magneticNorth
Lou is CEO of Manchester based digital design studio, magneticNorth.
Founded in 2000, the company quickly established an international reputation with an award winning client portfolio. Today, the studio continues to work with a wide range of companies – from BBC to Hermes – helping them to meet and shape evolving audience needs by putting digital at the heart of their businesses.
Alongside the day job, she is Deputy Chair, Lead for Communications, Digital Broadcasting and Skills Fund, and SME Representative for Greater Manchester’s Local Enterprise Partnership, and Chair of Design Manchester. Lou is also currently leading on Manchester’s Design Manifesto, which aims to enable a design-led delivery of the city region’s strategy and grow Manchester’s reputation as a leading international design city.
Lou is also a founding investor in AllBright and a passionate campaigner for gender equality in business and the tech industry.
Lou was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours for services to the creative and digital economy.
Professor Andy Miah, Chair of Science Communication and Future Media, University of Salford
Professor Andy Miah, PhD (@andymiah), is Chair of Science Communication & Future Media, at the University of Salford, where he also leads The #SciComm Space and Co-Chairs the University’s Esports Strategy. He is a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, USA, Advisory Board Member for the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester, and Advisory Board Member for the British Esports Association. Professor Miah’s research examines the intersections of art, ethics, technology and culture and he has published broadly on areas of emerging technologies, particularly related to digital and biotechnological innovations.
Current research themes include the use of virtual reality in science, health, and art, the ethics of artificial intelligence, and the rise of transhumanism. He has published over 150 academic articles in refereed journals and books, along with writing for magazines and newspapers, such as the Washington Post, The Guardian, the Independent, and the Conversation.
Professor Miah has given over 300 major invited conference presentations over the last decade, at which he is often invited to speak about philosophical and ethical issues concerning technology in society. He regularly interviews for a range of major media companies and is author of 10 books with his most recent book ‘Sport 2.0’ (MIT Press) published also in Japanese, ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. His next book will be published in 2020 by Emerald and is titled ‘Drones: The Brilliant, the Bad, and the Beautiful’.
“I’m very excited to be supporting the festival’s ambitious plans. Greater Manchester is fantastically experimental and hosts some of the most adventurous artists, business leaders, researchers, and cultural institutions, whose international impact is second to none.”
“I hope that the festival will bring us all closer together as a creative, innovative community, and I will work hard to bring a spirit of inclusive, diverse, and alternative approaches to a world where there are so many fantastic opportunities.”
Dave Jones, Director, Digital WoW Limited
Dave formed Digital Ways of Working in 2018. Digital Ways of Working has a purpose of helping organisations of all sizes realise the benefits achievable through having a winning Digital Strategy. Prior to this Dave was a CIO operating in global Manufacturing, Engineering, Construction sectors, which saw him recognised as a leading UK CIO and named in the CIO 100 in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Dave holds a MA in Leading Innovation and Change, awarded from York St John University. Dave also Chairs the Northern IT Leaders Group, is a board member for Yorkshire Byte Night and a Non-Executive Director for Manchester-based Tech firm Republic of Things.
“My eyes have been opened in the last 15 months or so. Leaving behind my corporate roles and the London networking scene, and through the creation of the Northern IT Leaders network, I’ve seen first hand the talent and booming Digital scene across the North. I’m really looking forward to helping make this event a huge success.”
Naomi Timperley, Co-founder, Tech North Advocates
Proud to be in the top 50 Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK IT 2018 & 2019. I am an experienced partnerships and engagement consultant with established relationships across the UK. I have extensive experience working with startups and growth businesses particularly in the tech, digital and creative sectors. I was one of the Maserati 100 in 2015 – a definite list of entrepreneurs who support the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
I have been a mentor for 8 years and mentored over 250 businesses. As one of 2 iDEA Industry Ambassadors in the world for the Duke of York’s Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award for my work with Wakelet and iDEA, I am big champion of Digital Skills for everyone. I also am a Honorary Industry Fellow at the University of Salford Business School and chair of the Industry Advisory Board. I sit on GMCA’s Innovation Board, the Board of arts organisation Future Everything and investment platform Capital Pilot.
“I think one of the biggest challenges this festival could address is around skills. There are also still quite a few silos in the city – it would be good to address that and really bring the community together – and that means the grassroots community just as much as big business. An event like this is not only important for the community in Manchester, the North West and the North of England, but also globally.”
Martin Balaam, Managing Director, Pimberly
Martin is the CEO and founder of Pimberly, an Enterprise SaaS platform for Product Information Management and Digital Asset Management. The business was a start-up from scratch in 2015 with funding from Martin & NorthEdge Capital LLP and in June 2018 received £2m funding from the British Business Bank via the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. Having recently passed its for $1m ARR Pimberly recently announced growth plans for its Scale-Up phase. Pimberley’s SaaS platform is designed to help retailers, distributors, brand owners and manufacturers which have the challenge of managing vast quantities of product data, images, videos and documents.
“My aspiration for Digital City Festival is that it will showcase Manchester as the place in the UK to be when it comes to innovation, start ups, scale ups for the next generation of digital businesses.”
Karen Burns, Events Manager, BJSS
Karen is Events Manager at BJSS, the UK’s leading IT and Business Consultancy. She is responsible for delivering high-quality events across the business and has been central to the Company’s recent sponsorship of Leeds Digital Festival 2019, Velocity, and Finding the Value in AI. Karen is also Community Manager for Velocity, Velocity is a community of people that believe in realising human-centred growth with agility and speed. People who want to work together to share ideas and learn from each other.
“The buzz and sense of togetherness that festivals like this brings to the digital community in general is palpable. This is a great opportunity to put Manchester on the map and to showcase our skills and experience. So, whether you’re thinking about organising, speaking at, or helping out at an event – do! But this isn’t only about technologists. Everyone has a role they can play, so if you’re happy to provide a support service or you have a venue that can be used, let us know.”
“The Digital City Festival is open to everyone’s involvement, no matter how big or small. We want a diverse mix of people involved because this will inspire creativity and innovation.”
Catherine McHenry, Programme Leader, Hyper Island
Catherine McHenry is an experienced and creative Learning Designer and Facilitator. Currently working as Programme Leader at Hyper Island on the Full Time M.A. Digital Management and Digital Experience Design programmes in Manchester. She works a multitude of clients, live briefs, students and industry leaders and guest speakers. She brings core organisation to the design and delivery of the Masters programmes and an empathic lead through facilitation and coaching skills.
Catherine has worked with diverse cultures and communities, including teaching English in Russia to her current position at Hyper Island. This shows in her approach to leadership within the student groups and her commitment to the culture of Hyper Island coworkers.
“I hope that the festival creates a stronger digital and creative community in Manchester.”
Patricia Keating, Executive Director, Tech Manchester
Patricia Keating heads up Tech Manchester, a non-profit organisation funded by British hosting firm UKFast that supports early-stage technology companies.
Tech Manchester provides tech-focussed businesses with a host of initiatives including intensive educational workshops, a structured mentor programme, PR and comms support and soon a media centre and workspace incubator space at UKFast Campus. Patricia is also internal lead on diversity and inclusion within UKFast.
“One of Manchesters key strengths is that ability to collaborate to pull off something fantastic, this will no doubt be another of those demonstrations of collective power and impact.”
Jude Holmes, Head of External Relations and Marketing, Made Smarter
For over 20 years Jude’s been helping organisations to succeed in a changing digital world. With a breadth of experience across multiple sectors, targeting both consumers and business. Her approach has been a mixture of data, insight and marketing principles. Currently she’s encouraging manufacturers in the North West to take part in an exciting programme, Made Smarter, where they can get the advice and funding they need to digitise their businesses and thrive in the 21st century.
“The Manchester Digital City Festival is a great way to encourage everyone to look more closely at how they can transform lives and businesses using the latest technology. The event will provide businesses across the North West with exposure to innovative digital tools and the opportunity to see real life benefits of digital adoption.”
Nathan Warner, Manchester Club Executive, AND Digital
Nathan leads AND Digital’s Manchester office as Club Executive. As one of Europe’s fastest growing tech companies, with over 80 passionate technologists in Manchester alone, his focus is to help organisations build better digital products today, and to build the high performing digital teams they need to fuel their digital journey tomorrow.
Over the last 15 years, Nathan has helped a range of organisations, from startups to large corporations, develop the strategy, people and tools that will allow them to adapt to the ever-increasing pace of technological change. He’s proud to have been a tech entrepreneur in Manchester, as this has allowed him to experience first-hand the wealth of talent in the area, as well as the great opportunity there is to cement Manchester’s reputation as the tech hub of the North.
“In the last decade, improved software development tools and techniques have reduced the cost of change significantly, to the point where you can build a prototype faster than it takes to organise the meeting to discuss the idea. This has fundamentally challenged how we do business.”
“Imagine where we will be at the end of the next decade? Digital City Festival is critical to allow our community in Manchester to reflect on our fantastic growth but also to get excited about the technology innovation of tomorrow.”
Tanya Grady, Head of Partnerships, Enterprise City an Allied London Group Project
Tanya as Head of Partnerships at Enterprise City is focused predominantly on the development of strategic partnerships across the new district. Enterprise City, an Allied London group project, sits alongside the Spinningfields estate, and is set to span 1.1 million sq feet. The fundamental ambition of Enterprise City is to become a Tech & Media cluster, an eco-system housing sector-specific organisations at every stage of maturity. Enterprise City is currently in its first phase of development, with Department, ABC and Manchester Studios due to come online later this year.
“We’re keen to see Manchester compete on a global stage and an expo as such is a wonderful way to showcase the talent, facilities and potential our city harnesses. As part of the steering panel, I’d be keen to offer Enterprise City’s support in way of physical space and exposure through our existing network and ties in the tech and media sectors. It’s critical that as a collective with a shared ambition for our city, we work together to position ourselves as a leader in the North for tech growth and development.”