Two high profile appointments have been made at the Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP) to grow the scale and impact of its work throughout the province and further afield.
Former Chairman of the Institute of Directors NI, Dr Joanne Stuart OBE, takes the role of Director of Development, while previous Chief Operating Officer of Aepona Ltd, Elaine Smyth, has been appointed to the role of Head of Programmes at NISP CONNECT.
Joanne Stuart, who has over 25 years’ experience working in the IT industry including nine years with the Oracle Corporation, will be responsible for the development of strategic relationships to support the growth of the Knowledge Economy in Northern Ireland.
Joanne has been the NI chair of the US-NI Mentorship Program for the last four years. The program is a partnership between NISP, Teneo and the American Ireland Funds, which provides challenging paid yearlong placements for recent graduates with global corporations in the States. The program has provided 65 placements to date in companies such as HBO, Coca Cola and Moet Hennessy.
Joanne, who is an active champion for STEM particularly with the region’s younger generation, said, “The Northern Ireland Science Park has an exciting vision to lead the transformation of Northern Ireland into one of the most entrepreneurial knowledge economies across Europe by 2030 and I am delighted to join the team at NISP working to bring this to reality.
“I have been engaged with NISP since 2010, and have been a tenant for the last two years. This has enabled me to see firsthand the great strides that the Science Park is making, not only with the growth of the physical infrastructure in both Belfast and Derry/Londonderry, but also the development of the innovation ecosystem through NISP CONNECT and the HALO Business Angel Network.
“This role enables me to build on my work in promoting the STEM/STEAM agenda and I relish working alongside the rest of the NISP team in this challenging and exciting role.”
Elaine Smyth has over 18 years’ experience in the science and technology industries. In the role of Head of Programmes, Elaine will ensure NISP Connect continues to provide exceptional inspiration and support to the local entrepreneurial community. Elaine joined Northern Ireland startup Apion in 1997 and the company grew from 30 staff to 220 in just two years, before being acquired by global software company, Phone.com, (now known as Openwave.) Elaine was employed as Chief Operating Officer of spinout Aepona Ltd for ten years, before moving into a consultancy role for E-Syngery to advise startups on Venture Capital investment.
Elaine says she is passionate about working with the wealth of early-stage, high growth companies in Northern Ireland, “The startup scene here is incredible: we know there were 295 new tech startups in Northern Ireland last year alone. We’re a vibrant, innovation nation and the advice and networks are out there for the taking.
“My role will involve working with the CONNECT Programme Managers and other stakeholders to ensure these companies have access to people who have been there and done that, and can give something back by passing on their guidance and expertise to continue growing our new knowledge economy.
“I want to really share the value of the programmes and show just how NISP Connect is relevant, not only to established businesses or research institutions, but to the wider community- to the teenager who has an interest in developing an app, to the person who works in a bank but has an idea for a new company or to the garden shed inventor next door who has created an ingenious prototype. As someone who has worked in a startup myself, I understand the difficulties and rewards of starting out and look forward to working with many new companies over the coming weeks and months.”