Here's the full list of speakers who'll be talking at Driving Sustainability: Efficiency through Innovation, on 23rd April 2024:

David Schiele, Energy Innovation Agency

David joined the Energy Innovation Agency from an Innovative SME technology company​. He brings a wealth of commercial experience from the Clean-Tech, EV Charging, Renewable Energy, and Waste Management sectors​. His specialist project management experience includes: local, regional and large scale energy infrastructure projects​. David has a proven track record of leading teams, driving strategy and delivering high value strategic innovation and infrastructure projects for demanding stakeholders.

Peter Emery, Energy Innovation Agency

Peter spent twenty years with Esso and ExxonMobil specialising in strategic planning and downstream operational management, his final appointment was as Fawley Refinery Operations Manager with full responsibility for the operation of the refinery. 

In 2004, he joined the Board of Drax Power Limited as Production Director and was a member of the executive team that listed the business as Drax Group PLC in 2005. He played a leading role in converting Drax into a major renewable generator and was Chairman of Capture Power, the joint venture vehicle responsible for the development of the White Rose Carbon Capture and Storage Project.

In 2016, Peter was appointed as CEO of Electricity North West Limited, a regulated business responsible for the electricity distribution network covering Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria. He led significant improvements in innovation and stakeholder engagement and introduced the change to a Distribution System Operator (DSO) enabling the transition to a low carbon economy in the North West. He retired from the role in 2022.

In March 2022, Peter was appointed Chair of Greater Manchester’s Energy Innovation Agency and to the Board of Innovation GM (IGM) as the energy appointee. In January 2024, he was appointed Chair of GM’s Strategic Infrastructure Board.

In June 2023, Peter was appointed as a Non-Executive of the Enfinium Group, an energy from waste business with operations across the UK.

Steve Connor, Creative Concern

Steve is the founder of Manchester-based Creative Concern, one of the UK’s leading ethical communications agencies with clients that include C40 Cities, World Resources Institute, Comic Relief, National Trust and the Roundtable on Responsible Soy. He is the green lead on the Greater Manchester Business Board and former chair of the Manchester Climate Change Partnership. He is an advisor to the board of the Northern Forest Partnership, a former chair of the Community Forest Trust, and sits on the General Assembly of the University of Manchester. Steve helped to build a Europe-wide network of ethical agencies called Do Not Smile and is co-host of the GoodGeist podcast. He has worked on climate and sustainability issues for over thirty years.

Keynote Speech:

James Harries, Trafford Council

James is Head of Climate Change and Sustainability at Trafford Council, leading work on net zero, climate resilience and biodiversity/nature recovery. Before joining the Council in 2023 he spent 12 years in the private sector at an environmental consultancy in Manchester, supporting a range of clients in the UK and worldwide on net zero pathways and plans. During this time, he drafted Bangladesh and Nigeria’s national climate change plan, developed a climate change monitoring and evaluation system for South Africa and worked with countries like Mexico and Colombia on developing a pipeline of investable carbon reduction projects. He also supported local authorities from Bristol to the Shetland Islands to develop climate emergency plans. Before that he spent 10 years in the civil service working on climate change policy and UK and EU level, in which time he was responsible for setting the level of the fourth carbon budget, setting up the EU Emissions Trading System in the UK and leading negotiations for the UK on the EU CO2 from cars regulation.

Panel 1: Driving Business Sustainability: Ambitious sustainability projects and energy solution selection

Andy Walsh, Football Supporters Association

A seasoned community campaigner, Andy has worked in strategic management and senior business development positions in football and the digital sectors.

Carol Brown, University of Bolton

Carol is Head of Greater Manchester Business School which is launching a Sustainability and ESG leadership Masters in September. Her background is marketing, engagement and transformational change having worked in companies including Royal London, Studio Retail and BBC amongst many. She is leading the sustainability agenda within the business school, which offers a practical portfolio of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and apprenticeships that prepare students for careers in business and accountancy. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Steffan Giddens, Bruntwood

Steffan is an experienced Project Director who has worked at Bruntwood for over 14 years in a variety of roles across Bruntwood’s nationwide portfolio of commercial buildings. More recently, Steffan has been involved in the JV of Bruntwood SciTech between Bruntwood, L&G and GMPF in delivering the company's ambitious expansion plans to become the UK’s leading developer of city-wide innovation ecosystems, and the largest dedicated property platform for the UK knowledge economy.

Having spent the early years of his career at Bruntwood working on the refurbishment of existing building stock, Steffan has led on a number of new build schemes such as Base and No 3 Circle Square in Manchester and Enterprise Wharf and Birmingham Health Innovation Centre in Birmingham.

For the past 3 years, Steffan has worked on the ID Manchester JV between Bruntwood SciTech and the University of Manchester to deliver the £1.7Bn redevelopment of the North Campus (formerly UMIST) into Europe’s leading Innovation District.

Richard Hagan, Crystal Doors

Richard’s personal carbon footprint is under 4 tons, having begun his journey in 2015 at a whopping 48 tons enjoying fast cars, holidays abroad and that of a carefree business owner’s wealth. Today his company Crystal Doors is B Corp certified scoring 130 points, Queens Award winners in 2021, along with 15 other awards including edie awarding him UK’s Individual Sustainable Business Leader in 2022. His motto of “save money, save planet” underpins his vision to achieve significant financial benefits going green. Now an Employees Owned Trust since November 2023; protecting sustainable profits for people, place and planet.

Panel 2: The Investment in Landscape for Sustainability: What are sustainable investors looking for? What are the hallmarks of the best green innovations?

Jess Jackson, Praetura Investment

Jess is an investment manager at Praetura Ventures & is responsible for identifying & managing investment opportunities for our EIS Growth Fund & the GMC Life Sciences Fund By Praetura, as well as NPIFII NW Equity Fund. She is leading the PraeSeed Cohort investing programme, launching in May for applications from pre-revenue startups in the North, the first of its kind in the region.

Jess boasts a wealth of experience working with startups across multiple sectors, including businesses with a social impact focus & is a well-known figure in the North’s investment scene. She is passionate about championing investment opportunities for women – & regularly gives talks around this subject & the early-stage investment market. Prior to joining Praetura Ventures, Jess managed fund deployment at GC Angels & HNWI Capital.

Jonathan Memel, Ayming UK

Jonathan leads the UK grants practice for Ayming, an innovation consultancy operating in 15 countries globally. Jonathan has 8 years' experience in innovation and research grants, including Innovate UK, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and Horizon Europe. Jonathan’s grants team partner with venture capital firms to win non-dilutive funding alongside equity investment, most recently submitting a £700k grant alongside £2m matched seed funding for a quantum cryptography scale-up.

Mohamad Kantar, Kantar Partnership

Mohamad is at the forefront of empowering startups and catalysing sustainable development, focusing on fostering innovation and scaling ventures across the MENA region and UK for a sustainable future. Mohamad's career is marked by leading sustainable innovation, from supporting the creation of four companies, to advancing climate startups across the UK & MENA region, and his role in orchestrating key international events and training workshops. He has been instrumental in fostering industry and government dialogues on sustainability, energy and investment, and enhancing global collaboration, through strategic partnerships.

Panel 3: Better Business Efficiency through Innovation

Barry Thompson, Alpha311

Alpha 311 is a forward-thinking company that has developed an innovative vertical axis wind turbine, offering a sustainable and cost-effective solution for businesses and local communities. The company’s ethos is rooted in reducing environmental impact and supporting local economies through efficient energy transmission.

Alpha 311’s technology represents a significant step forward in the renewable energy sector, embodying the potential for a cleaner, more self-sufficient future.

Laura Boucher, Grid Edge

Laura joined Grid Edge over 3 years ago with the aim of working for a company that will really have a real-world impact. Laura & Grid Edge are on an exciting yet challenging mission to be the AI that powers commercial buildings to Net Zero. With years of experience within the energy industry in organisations of differing sizes, Laura was aware that there was a huge challenge ahead around helping commercial buildings to decarbonise. With a huge chunk of global co2 coming from commercial buildings it seemed like an obvious place for Laura to start & really get her teeth into. Laura thoroughly enjoys working closely with clients & partners enabling them to accelerate the journey to Net Zero making those all-important cost & carbon savings & helping them to future proof their businesses.

Lisa Furlong, Mole Group

Lisa has worked with Mole Group for over 15 years now focussing on Green Mole Limited, the environmental division. Prior to this, her background was in hospitality management and the early days of call centres, when these were a new concept.

Marc Clarke, Aira

Marc Clarke, Head of Region North West and joined Aira in August 2023 after being in the energy industry for over 20 years, working for companies such as British Gas, Hive & Vodafone.
Aira is a Swedish clean energy-tech champion on a mission to take Europe off gas by accelerating the electrification of residential heating.

Fireside Chat: The Funding Landscape for Sustainability Deployment 

Gordon McDonough, Innovate UK Business Connect

Gordon is the Project Manager for the Innovate UK Business Growth Team at the Growth Company. The team provide a support for innovative businesses in the North West focussed on Innovation, Internationalisation and Strategic. Gordon has worked in a number of sectors, including Automotive, Medtech, Packaging, where he led a number of technical, operations and supply chain teams.

Kevin Aisbitt, Energy Innovation Agency

Kevin joined the Agency following a role managing the Growth Hub in Worcestershire, supporting the growth of small and medium enterprises. He values the importance of innovation and brings a great deal of domestic and international business engagement experience from Asia, Europe, and North America. He specialises in the development of strategic business / research links and attracting inward investment to help organisations take advantage of trade and investment opportunities in new markets.

Lewis Le Fevre, HalioGEN Power

Lewis, has a PhD in Energy Storage from the University of Manchester and 10 years of research experience in the energy storage field, including 8 years in academia and 2 years in industry. During this time, he has published 12 papers and filed 3 patents relating to several energy storage technologies. Lewis is determined to tackle climate change by offering a solution that enables a successful transition to net zero.

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