Meet the 2020 Steering Panel

We have assembled some of the North’s digital elite to be on the inaugural Digital City Festival steering panel. They will be advising, supporting and helping to shape our week-long programme of events being held in Manchester in March 2020.

Find out more about this year’s steering panel below.


Patricia Keating

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 Manchester’s key strengths is that ability to collaborate to pull off something fantastic, the Digital City Festival will no doubt be another of those demonstrations of collective power and impact.”


Herb Kim

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.”


Sam Booth

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.”


Liz Scott

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

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.”


Aine McTiernan

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!”


Stuart Clarke

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

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 predominately 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.”


Dave Jones
Dave Jones, Director, Digital WoW LimitedDave 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

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.

“Digital City Festival will aim to showcase Manchester for digital businesses, innovation and talent from Greater Manchester.”


Martin Balaam

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

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.”


Jude Holmes

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.”


Paul Addison

Paul Addison, Head of PR and Government Affairs, Siemens Digital Industries

Paul Addison is a strategic public affairs and communications professional currently working for Siemens UK. He started his career working at the House of Commons, working for Members of Parliament supporting their communications and case work activity. Following this he worked for the global law firm DLA Piper as a Political Consultant, servicing a number of their retail and health clients. Later he set up the press office for DWF, a law firm based in Manchester.

At Siemens since 2012, he specialises in c-suite communications delivery, with a focus on manufacturing and digital tech. He was the communications lead for the ‘Made Smarter Review’ which analysed how small manufacturing businesses can gain from digital technologies such as AI, robotics and automation. The subsequent campaign went on to win a number of public affairs awards and resulted in the formation of a government-industry led commission, over £200m investment in R&D, coupled with a £20m tech adoption pilot in the North West based in Manchester which he helped establish.

“The Digital City Festival will be an excellent opportunity for likeminded professionals to get together and promote the very best in digital marketing, communications and engagement.”

“It should be an opportunity to understand what trends are going to shape the 2020’s and it is right that Manchester – which is at the cutting edge of the digital economy should host this festival.”


Tanya Grady

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.”


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