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Board Members

Catalyst's Board Members encompass an invaluable diversity of innovation and business expertise to guide us on our mission to becoming the best place in Northern Ireland to innovate and collaborate.

Cliona Langford

Director, SMB UK, Google

Cliona is an international business leader with a diverse lens deriving from over 20 years in senior consulting, finance and digital strategy roles. Joining Google 9 years ago she is currently a Non-Executive Director at Catalyst, responsible for growing Small and Medium Businesses in the UK and Ireland helping everyone from starts ups to high street brands succeed online.

Originally training as a Management Consultant in Accenture and Accountant with CIMA she is an expert on the technical aspects that drive financial performance and operations of organisations. She has extensive experience as a strategic thinker and is a socially minded executive skilled in leading senior teams through change, developing cross-industry partnerships and delivering strong organisational growth.

In her spare time she enjoys swimming off the Irish coast and spending time with her husband and two children (3, 5).

Chris Jessup

Partner at A&L Goodbody

Christopher Jessup advises banks, payment service providers, payment systems, investment firms, fund managers, and other financial institutions and fintech firms on UK and EU financial services regulation.

Christopher has extensive experience advising on new products, commercial contracts and transactions for the commercial and retail banking, e-money, payments, virtual currency and consumer finance industries.

As well as assisting a number of clients with setting up and operating regulated businesses and financial services joint ventures in the UK and EU, Christopher has advised on a number of cross-border transactions and strategic regulatory projects for leading international financial institutions. These have included restructurings, acquisitions and disposals of regulated businesses and asset portfolios.

Before joining the Belfast office, Christopher worked in the banking and financial services teams of two global law firms in London and was seconded to the legal and regulatory team of an international payment system.

Bryan Keating

Managing Partner of CIP Partnership

Bryan Keating CBE is the managing partner of the CIP partnership, visiting professor at the University of Ulster and chairman of the advisory board of the Northern Ireland Centre for Entrepreneurship in Belfast.

In 2006, he was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion.

Keating was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to economic development in Northern Ireland. He was appointed Commander of the same Order (CBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to Economic Development in Northern Ireland.

He has been involved with high tech companies for over 35 years as well as serving on the Boards of several government and academic bodies including Vice-Chair of InvestNI and Chair of the Apprenticeship and Youth Training Forum.

Ellvena Graham

Chair of the Northern Ireland Economic Advisory Group | Catalyst Chair

Ms Graham is the former head of Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland and current Chair of the Northern Ireland Economic Advisory Group, which advises the Department for the Economy. A recent past president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, she is also Chair of ICC Belfast and serves on the boards of Queen’s University Belfast and Dale Farm.

Ellvena has over 30 year’s experience in Banking, most recently at Executive Management level as Head of Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland & Managing Director of SME Banking across the island of Ireland, ending in 2015. Ellvena has global experience from within the wider RBS Group, having managed large scale Operations in EMEA for Royal Bank of Scotland.

Ellvena was a Board member of Barretstown, a charity helping children with serious illnesses, up until June 2012 and an Advisory Board Member of Women’s Executive Network (WXN) in Ireland from 2008 – 2016.

Gerry Kindlon

Head of Government Relations for Seagate

Gerry is currently Head of Government Relations for Seagate in Europe, having been with the company since 1993, experiencing managing operations, engineering, product management and data analytics. He has previous experience in the semiconductor, automotive and healthcare sectors.

A strong advocate of social responsibility and community leadership with a highly developed personal network across local and national government, education and business organizations, Gerry is also a former president of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, current Chair of Derry & Strabane Council’s Economic Advisory Group, a member of IBEC’s northwest council and sits on various other business councils. He is also chair of Oxford United soccer club in Derry.

Jeff Wylie

Group CFO for Reapit UK

Jeff is a Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ business experience within corporate finance, venture capital and latterly as CFO of five international software companies. He brings a unique perspective to growth situations having led numerous fundraisings, business expansions and successful exits in various roles as corporate finance adviser, investor and CFO.

Jeff joined Meridio in January 2004 from a successful background in venture capital management, corporate advice and most recently as Group Finance Director of Amacis, where he led their recent successful acquisition by Primus Knowledge Solutions Inc. At Amacis, Jeff managed finance, administrative and HR functions across operating offices in Belfast, London, Boston and Hong Kong. He was directly responsible for raising over $12m in venture capital for the Company from UK, Irish and US based investors.

Prior to Amacis, Jeff worked for IBI Corporate Finance as Associate Director for 6 years and Enterprise Equity, an Irish venture capital company, for almost 3 years. He studied Chemical Engineering at Cambridge University, but made the move to accountancy after graduation, when he joined Ernst and Young. Jeff joined Reapit in early 2018.

Neil Crockett

Catalyst Board Member

Neil Crockett held a variety of senior UK and international positions at Cisco, was the founding CEO of the Digital Catapult innovation centres, and most recently was the Chief Digital Officer at Rolls-Royce PLC. He has previously served on the Smart London Board, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Steering Group and the NI Matrix Digital ICT panel and is currently a member of the Queen’s Awards for Industry Innovation Panel and Board of Trustees at Barnardo’s.

In 2018, he was was named in the global top 150 business transformation executives as voted by peers, vendors and industry analysts (Constellation), and, over his career, he has developed a rich mix of global and UK business operational experience, skills and outcomes from a range of Managing Director and CEO roles.

Neil is married and lives in Stratford-upon-Avon; his pastimes include golf and cycling.

Stephen Wray

Partner at Deloitte UK

Stephen is a Partner at Deloitte UK, leading client relationships in Government and Public Services sectors; he is also a Subject Matter Expert on Cyber Research and Innovation, Enterprise Security Architecture and Cyber Culture trends and strategy. Stephen helps organisations create a cyber-minded culture, reimagine risk and uncover strategic opportunities to become faster, more innovative, and more resilient in the face of ever-changing threats.

Stephen also has over 20 years’ experience of founding and scaling cyber and technology businesses, including 6 years as Commercial Director of both the ECIT Institute and the Centre for Secure IT (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast. His other previous business experience includes being: VP Licensing at APT, VP Licensing at Amphion Semiconductor, Sales & Marketing Manager at Amtec Medical and a Design Engineer at Nortel Networks.

Jeanette Walker

Catalyst Board Member

With a degree in Law and French, and a postgraduate diploma in European marketing, Jeanette’s early career was in international business development spanning a wide range of industries. Her previous roles include Head of New Business at East of England International – the regions’ inward investment agency – and 8 years as Director of Business Development at the Eastern Region Biotechnology Initiative (ERBI).

In 2010 Jeanette was appointed Director of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus where she was instrumental in attracting AstraZeneca and Abcam to the Campus, and in creating a strong sense of community – an achievement recognised by winning Property Week’s prestigious Place Making Award in 2014.

In 2017 Jeanette became the inaugural Director of the Cambridge Science Park where she spearheaded the Park’s marketing and master planning activities, and is credited with having transformed the Park from a collection of individual buildings into a thriving innovation eco-system where people genuinely love to work.  She also developed the Park’s 2050 Vision and secured a £200m investment in the Science Park for new buildings including a 40,000 sq ft BioInnovation Centre from TusPark of Beijing.

In February 2022 Jeanette joined a Cambridge-based family-run property development company as Interim Director of a new urban innovation district they are developing south of Cambridge.  Jeanette also has a keen interest in cluster development. Her recent publication – Cambridge BioMedical Cluster Map & Report 2022 – profiles the current nature and extent of the biotechnology and medical technology sectors in Cambridge.

Professor Mark W.J. Ferguson

Catalyst Board Member

Professor Mark W.J. Ferguson is Chair of the Board of the European Innovation Council (EIC) for the European Commission. Previously (2012 – 2022) he was Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and was Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland. He also served in Ireland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, e.g., as a member of NPHET (the National Public Health Emergency Team).

Professor Ferguson was Chair of the European Commission Pilot Advisory Board for the European Innovation Council, a member of the Governing Boards of the Global Research Council and of the European Commission Joint Research Centre and a founding member of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative. He served on the EU High Level Group on the impact of H2020 and chaired international committees reviewing the Research and Innovation systems of Denmark, Hungary and Canada.

Previously, a Professor and Dean of Biological Sciences at The University of Manchester (since 1984), he was co-founder and CEO of Renovo Group Plc. (1998 – 2011). Professor Ferguson is the recipient of numerous international research prizes and awards, including the 2002 European Science Prize (jointly), author of 329 papers and book chapters, 61 patent families, author/editor of eight books, supervised 77 PhD students and has been awarded over £70 million in competitive research grants and approximately £100 million in start-up company equity funding. He has contributed to a number of scientific films, documentaries, TV and radio programmes and held offices in 16 international scientific societies, including President of the European Tissue Repair Society.

He has wide ranging research interests in cellular and molecular mechanisms in scarring and wound healing, developmental mechanisms in normal and cleft palate formation, alligator and crocodile biology including temperature dependent sex determination. Professor Ferguson graduated from Queens University of Belfast with degrees in Dentistry (BDS 1st class honours), Anatomy and Embryology (BSc 1st class honours, PhD) and Medical Sciences (DMedSc), and holds Fellowships from the Royal Colleges of Surgeons in Ireland (FFD), and Edinburgh (FDS) and is a Founding Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci). He is a member or Fellow of a number of learned Societies and was made a “Commander of the British Empire” (CBE) by the Queen in 1999 for services to Health and Life Sciences.

Paul Hannigan

Catalyst Board Member

Paul Hannigan, President of Letterkenny Institute of Technology, comes from a management background, having completed an MSc in Management Practice in Trinity College Dublin. He is a former member of the Higher Education Authority and is currently a Board member of the Central Applications Office and Chairman of its Audit Committee. Paul also currently serves on the Donegal County Development Board, the North West Regional Executive of IBEC, and Fáilte North West.

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