The updated TechSPARK Top Innovators 50-21  list is finally here! We’re very excited to share with you the final outcome of various deliberations and debates that resulted in this list of 50 groundbreaking innovators

Thanks to our partnership with Antidote Communications, we’ve been able to celebrate the individuals who have had a rippling impact on our community – not just in economic terms, in the ways they facilitate collaboration and personal growth throughout the region too.

Congratulations to everyone on the list! This time it’s ordered numerically, so meet our innovators ranging from number 50-21.

Nic Hemley, Co-Founder Bristech Conference

Nic is a technologist who is also passionate about the people's side of tech. He co-founded Bristech, the one-day tech conference for polyglot developers and technical professionals.

Charlie Guy, Co-Founder and MD at LettUs Grow

University of Bristol's graduate in Engineering Design, Charlie defines himself as "a proponent of tech for good and passionate about all manners of sustainability, whether in food, energy, resource efficiency or the circular economy" Charlie is a co-founder of LettUs Grow who raised £2.35m in 2020 

Dr. Mark Mason, Founder of Bristol Private Equity Club

Dr. Mark Mason is an entrepreneur, NED, mentor, chairman, angel investor, and university governor. He cofoudner well know agencies Mason Zimbler and Mubaloo. He invests in driven people and innovative businesses, directly or through the Bristol Private Equity Club who recently secured a £10m co-investment fund.

Heather Frankham, Founder of Origin Workspace

Heather is an Entrepreneur, Investor and Philanthropist. She focuses her investment in Bristol-based businesses either through Origin Workspace, the co-working hub founded by Heather, or the Bristol Private Equity Club. Her goal with Origin is to create a collaborative space where businesses can start and grow in a supportive environment.

Chris Thurling, Chairman at Armadillo

Chris is the Chairman at Armadillo and Bristol Creative Industries. Armadillo is a specialist CRM agency; it uses the latest technology to create digital communications based on real data insights. Bristol Creative Industries is one of the biggest creative networks in the UK with members spanning the digital, TV, animation, design, marketing, PR, publishing, film, and advertising sectors.

Monica Radclyffe, Head at SETsquared 

Monika is the Centre Director at SETsquared, the world’s No. 1 University Business Incubator. She has a demonstrated history of facilitating innovation, leading a multitude of startup-focused accelerator programmes throughout her career. Last year SETsquared was named the 'hottest' accelerator in Europe and it's companies raised more that 10% of all investment in the SW.

Samantha Seaton, CEO at MoneyHub Enterprise

Samantha is "thrilled to be running Moneyhub, a Fintech with teeth! Meaningfully taking action, focused on solving genuine problems, achieving real-life goals and always through a consumer lens" In July this year Moneyhub raised $18m to scale up

Phil Bates, Cloud Architect at Oracle

Phil leads Oracle’s Cloud Innovation Accelerator programme in EMEA in Bristol. He creates and leads collaborations between Oracle’s cloud product development teams and university researchers working within computationally/data-intensive domains. He was awarded an honorary degree as Professor Of Computer Science from the University of Bristol for his work in the discipline.

Ben Trewhella, Managing Director at Bristol VR Lab

Ben manages the Opposable Group, the forward-thinking Bristol-based game developer, including Opposable VR and Opposable Games. He also sits on the advisory or management boards of The Next Gen Skills Academy, Bristol Creative Industries, TechSPARK and the Bristol Games Hub. Ben is currently launching the NextGen Futures Bootcamp to support new talent into the Games sector.

Simon Wear, CEO at Playsports Network 

A specialist digital media executive highly focused on video, Simon’s passion for two wheels influenced the creation of two businesses (Play Sports Network and SHIFT Active Media) that have become world leaders in the cycling space.

Simon Klima, Director of International Marketing at Strava

Simon is a Marketing Director and brand strategist, specialising in the sports sector. He is currently Director of International Marketing at Strava, the social network connecting athletes to what motivates them to help them find their personal best.

Charly Patrick, Regional Eco-System Manager - South West at NatWest

Charly is the Regional Eco-System Manager at the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator. Her current role as EDM helps to support Entrepreneurs to achieve their goals and scale their businesses through facilitating connections with vast internal and external networks; this can come in the form of mentorship, workshops and meetups. Charly has driven investment into Inclusion with Natwest funding SETsquared's Back Her Business Programme and TechSPARK's own SHIFT.

Briony Phillips, Scaleup Lead at Rocketmakers

Briony is the Scaleup Lead at Rocketmakers and previously worked as Associate Director at Engine Shed. Briony defines herself as "a strategic thinker, experienced facilitator, and effective project manager. I am passionate about organisational development and invest in the organisational/team culture wherever I work"

Jim Morrison, CEO of Deep Blue Sky

Jim is CEO of Deep Blue Sky; an award-winning digital transformation agency in Bath, Director of Bath Digital Festival; a week-long, award-winning digital festival engaging schools, universities and everyday people with the latest local and global technology. He also founded of OneSub – its’s mission is to fix democracy; giving people access to track, manage and understand their news bias and find different points of view.

Charles Grimsdale, VC

Charles is a software engineer turned entrepreneur, Angel investor and Venture Capitalist. His role as Partner at Eden Ventures includes a portfolio of over 40 investments, mostly in software platforms and technology. He is also an investor and Non-Exec Director at Brightpearl, and Basekit, and Angel investor in CreoMedical, Ometria, BluWireless, Funnel Music, SkinAnalytics.

Nick Dean, Managing Director at ADLIB

Nick is the Managing Director at ADLIB. His role at ABLIB has greatly contributed towards ensuring that the ADLIB team are the most respected, ambitious and talented bunch of technology, data, marketing and creative recruiters that you’ll ever know. ADLIB are B Corp accredited and recently became employee owned

Richard Godfrey, CEO at Rocketmakers

Richard is an experienced and trusted CTO, software architect, investor, entrepreneur and innovator with a demonstrated history of delivering major systems via Rocketmakers, Microsoft and Deloitte over the last 25 years. He is focused on helping innovate startups and corporates of all shapes and sizes deliver disruptive and engaging customer experiences through the application of new technology.

Chris DysonPartner & Head of Technology Sector at Ashfords

Chris specialises in venture capital and mergers and acquisitions, advising a wide range of UK and international investment funds, growth companies and entrepreneurs. He has significant experience in European and U.S. cross-border investments and exits.

Jerry Barnes, CEO at Bristol Private Equity Club

Jerry founded the Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC), now CEO. This initially had 5 other members who are experienced investors in growing businesses. The club has now grown to nearly 100 members and in the first three years has invested over £6M in more than 20 local start-ups.

David Henderson, Independent Financial Services Consultant 

Now working independently, David used to be the Head of Business Transformation at Hargreaves Lansdown. HL is a secure FTSE 100 Company that prides itself on being ‘The UK number 1 platform for private investors.’

Mike Bartley, CEO at TVS

Mike is CEO and founder of TVS. The solutions-focused business helps companies to improve time to market and reduce costs by improving the way they test complex software and hardware products. He’s an active member of the community being the Talent Partner at Toyota Connected Europe.

Henry Nurser, Chief Business Development Officer at Blu Wireless

He’s dedicated to making the company become the leading source of multi-Gigabit baseband ‘System IP’ for companies wanting to develop products for low-cost 4G backhaul and WiGig (consumer WiFi) and emerging 5G SON/SDN/MEC applications. Blu Wireless work on a number of 5G projects and raised £12m in 2019.

Silas Adekunle, CEO at RI

Silas is former CEO and co-founder of Reach Robotics. During his time establishing the company, Silas says he enjoyed bringing the world’s first gaming robots and STEM education platform, MekaMon, to market alongside a fantastic and highly talented team. UWE Bristol awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Technology to Silas in recognition of his contribution and commitment to student entrepreneurship and technology development.

Marina Traversari, Global Head of TEAC at Telecom Infra Project

Marina defines herself as "I am a highly motivated, well organised, driven individual with a can-do attitude. I have managed a multitude of projects and large budgets." Marina is one of the co-founders of the Bristol Tech Festival which returns on October 2021

Dan Pritchard, Co-founder at Tech South West

PR and communications expert Dan is also a guitarist in Susannah and the Noise. Managing Director of Marketing & PR agency for tech, education, infrastructure brands Astley Media; co-founder of Tech South West.

Zara Nanu, CEO of Gapsquare

Dr Zara Nanu is the CEO of Gapsquare. Zara is an expert on how diversity and inclusion can shape more dynamic and productive teams and a more engaging and empowering workplace. She is an entrepreneur who believes business can generate social impact as well as revenues and profits.

Rosie Bennet, Investment Manager at Bath SETsquared

Rosie is currently Investment Manager and Programme Lead, Executives into Business at Bath SETsquared based at the University of Bath Innovation Centre and involved in a number of startups as a founder, mentor and advisor. She also runs tech meetup IT Girls Collaborative.

Matt Penneycard, Partner at Ada Ventures

Ada Ventures is a $50M seed fund, investing in UK companies pre-Series A. At Ada Ventures, they invest in technology that will have a positive impact, at huge scale. They like to back overlooked founders and markets, looking where others might not be. A local business they have supported is Huboo who recently raised £14m

Aki Sano, CEO of Cookpad

Aki is the founder and CEO of Cookpad, a tech company building a community platform that enables people to share recipe ideas and cooking tips. The global platform is used by around 100 million people every month across the world, and over 4 million recipes have been created by people in almost 70 countries.

Vlad Nanu, Co-CEO at Amdaris

Proudly sharing the role of CEO of Amaris with Andy Rogers. An executive with an extensive project portfolio, comprehensive knowledge of software development lifecycle, strong leadership and demonstrated history of success in operational management.


After pulling down a 250 person longlist from the network, we whittled it down to a 100 person shortlist and eventually (with great pain) our TT50. We judged this list, with our partners, using 5 key criteria:

  • Local Impact – What have they done for the community locally, inspiration, events and connections
  • Economic Impact – What impact have they had through investing or employing people.
  • Global impact – What impact are they having globally in raising the region’s profile.
  • Reach – Public profile both in the ecosystem locally and wider.
  • Influence – How much can they shape things, can they mobilise a network? In short, how quickly would you respond to their email!

Congratulations to everyone on TechSPARK’s Top 50 list – a huge shoutout to you all for making the tech sector in the South West what it is today!