Top Tech: Yorkshire


This year’s panel is made up from a wide variety of experts from across the region. They have all experienced what it is like to start or work with a growing tech business and have inside knowledge of the highs and lows associated with bringing new products or services to market.

We caught up with some of our judges to find out a bit more about what they are looking for from this year’s Top Tech: Yorkshire entrants…

Stuart Clarke, Leeds Digital Festival

Paul Johnson, Mills & Reeve

Chelsea Boothroyd, Nexus


Meet all our judges…


Richard Faulkner

Managing Director, Technology Banking at Silicon Valley Bank

Richard Faulkner is a Managing Director at Silicon Valley Bank with responsibility for the growth of the bank in the North & Scotland.  Richard is a qualified banker with over 20 years’ experience.  He is committed to supporting the vibrant innovation sector and entrepreneurs leading high-growth, disruptive technology companies.  SVB lends to businesses such as Trust Pilot, Performance Horizon, The Hut Group, Secret Escapes and as they pave the way towards further growth.

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Chelsea Boothroyd

Nexus Business Engagement Manager

As Engagement Manager for Nexus, Chelsea is responsible for liaison with businesses, matching their needs to the University’s capabilities and facilitating productive working partnerships and collaborations between academic experts and business.

Joining Leeds from the Global Investment Bank, J.P.Morgan, Chelsea has extensive experience of creating successful co-creation opportunities with startups. As part of J.P. Morgan’s FinTech team, Chelsea focused on how to harness emerging technologies to transform the future of finance and has a wealth of experience in guiding start-ups on their journey from initial idea to product delivery.


Richard Carter

Managing Director, Equiniti Credit Services

 As Managing Director, Richard leads the organisation and is responsible for setting the company strategy. His hands-on client-facing approach includes overseeing Equiniti Credit Services operations on a day-to-day basis.

With more than 25 years direct financial services experience, Richard is passionate about the customer experience, innovation and technology, and is widely respected for his market expertise and thought leadership.

Equiniti Credit Services is a provider of innovative and disruptive automated loan management software and servicing to banks, retail brands and finance providers in the UK.

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Paul Johnson

Corporate lawyer with a focus on tech sector businesses

Paul has over 20 years’ experience of advising clients across a range of sectors but in particular recently technology businesses using Mills & Reeves extensive expertise in the tech sector. He specialises in buying and selling businesses, structuring growth capital investments and generally helping clients grow and then realise the value in their businesses with a particular focus where private equity or venture capital are involved.

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Stuart Clarke

Festival Director of the Leeds Digital Festival

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.

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Peter Rowe

Consultant at WH Ireland

WH Ireland are a leading investment bank dedicated to raising growth capital for ambitious UK small and mid-cap companies. With over 25 years’ experience advising both Institutional and corporate clients across a range of sectors, Peter joined WHI leveraging the companies significant interest and experience in the disruptive technology space.

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Heather Niven

Business and Innovation Consultant

After almost 12 years working for Science City York (SCY), which is now part of Make It York, I am now a self employed business and innovation consultant. Current clients include the University of York and technology businesses in the creative and digital industries in the North of England. Previously I have supported businesses in IT & Digital, Creative and Bioscience industries and have accelerated innovation in the city via organisational support, city strategy work, open innovation projects and a lively events and workshop programme.

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Mel Kanarek

Director and Co-Founder, Sheffield Digital

Mel Kanarek is a key figure in Sheffield's creative and digital community, having co-founded Sheffield Digital, the organisation for the people and businesses who make up the city's digital industries. Mel has over 30 years experience in marketing and communications, specialising in the digital tech sector. She currently divides her time between running Sheffield Digital and her own consultancy business, where she works with small technology businesses to help them grow. As well as being a director of Sheffield Digital, Mel is a trustee of SMEC (the charity that runs the Showroom Cinema and Workstation workspace in Sheffield) and an Entrepreneur in Residence at Sheffield Hallam University.