Rowena Ironside (Chair)

Rowena is an experienced SME board director with broad international executive experience and particular expertise in strategy, technology and entrepreneurship. Rowena spent 25 years in the ICT industry, building and leading services and software businesses in the UK and the US including the start-up and sale of a successful IT services company in London. Rowena has a deep understanding of digital technology (software, data, networks, cybersecurity) with experience on both sides of M&A transactions in the sector and in managing growth, change and cross-cultural integration. Since 2002 she has built a second career as a non-executive director, angel investor and strategic advisor. Rowena is currently co-founder and executive Chair of Women on Boards UK and Non-Executive Director at the Digital Catapult. She has just completed her term as a City Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge.

Niamh Barker

Niamh brings the small business voice to the Open Up Challenge Judging Panel. Niamh founded The Travelwrap Company in 2008 and the signature product, the Scottish Cashmere Travelwrap, went on to win The Luxury Gift of the Year. The same year, Niamh won Best New Business at the International Stevie Awards for Women in Business, USA. The company now exports to 20 countries worldwide.

Before launching her business, Niamh was a pharmacist by profession and worked in the hospital and then Pharma industries for 10 years. Latterly, she was head of UK Consumer Medical Affairs for Pfizer.

Imran Gulamhuseinwala (OBE)

Imran leads EY’s Global FinTech practice, a dedicated team providing advice to FinTechs and Governments – and EY’s Corporate Finance Strategy practice, a commercial advisory and transaction strategy unit. Imran joined EY in 2014 having spent 17 years focussed on the financial services sector.  He brings a unique perspective having spent 8 years advising the sector with Oliver Wyman and a further 8 years investing in the sector with Bridgepoint and latterly Resolution.  He also offers insights as an entrepreneur, co-founding and chairing CommuterClub, a FinTech 50 start-up.

Imran has been deeply involved in the UK’s Open Banking agenda. He was appointed the Open Banking Implementation Trustee in April 2017. He previously served as a member of the Open Banking Working Group’s Steering Committee, where he supported the delivery of the Open API framework.

As part of the 2017 New Year’s Honours, Imran received an OBE for services to financial services and particularly, for his role in helping establish the UK as the world’s number one location for FinTechs. Imran holds a Masters in Engineering from Cambridge University and is a CFA charter holder.

Sanjay Jain

Sanjay is an active volunteer with iSPIRT, the software product industry think tank, and is an active member of the Open API, and the cashless India teams. To achieve these objectives, he has been working with the NPCI to define the next generation payment systems (the Unified Payment Interface), as well as with regulators and other bodies to help entire processes go paperless. He has been one of the key contributors to help create, and evangelize various government open apis, which are collectively referred to as the India Stack.

During his career, Sanjay has been responsible for the development of many large scale, high impact systems. He was the Chief Product Manager at the UIDAI, where he led the product development efforts from its early days till well after the launch. The UIDAI has issued over a billion numbers to Indian residents. He was also responsible for the creation and launch of Google Map Maker – a crowd-sourced mapping product that is responsible for Google Maps data for 170+ countries (including India).

Angus McLean

Angus heads the Simmons & Simmons International FinTech team. He is a commercial IP specialist with over 14 years’ experience advising on technology issues in the financial services sector. His clients range from top tier investment banks and market leading software developers to some of the UK’s most exciting FinTech start-ups. Angus is recognized in Legal 500 2014 and 2015 for IP transactional work and is a guest lecturer on the Oxford University postgraduate diploma in IP Law and Practice.

Angus is also a Techstars mentor on the Barclays Accelerator London programme, a founding member of the Tech London Advocates FinTech Working Group and one of the Contributing Editors of Getting the Deal Through: FinTech. The founder and CEO of one current FinTech 50 business describes Angus as “a driving force of the FinTech community” with “a deep understanding of the issues entrepreneurs face every day as they grow their business. There is nobody else like him in FinTech. I highly recommend him!”.

Richard Roberts

Until recently, Richard was SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) Market Analysis Director at Barclays Bank in the UK. Professor Roberts was awarded an MBE for his services to SME research in the UK in the 2012 New Year’s Honours list. From 2001 until 2014, Professor Roberts was also Chief Economist for Barclays UK Banking.

In early 2014, Richard retired from Barclays and joined CREME as Honorary Professor in the Business School at the University of Birmingham. He is currently working on a major research project with CREME. The Enterprise and Diversity Alliance is a public – private collaborative project to promote diversity, access to finance and access to markets in ethnic minority entrepreneurship. His book on Finance for Small and Entrepreneurial Businesses was published in Spring 2015.

In June 2014, Professor Roberts was appointed as Special Adviser on SME finance to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee in the UK Parliament. He also acts as a consultant on SME issues for a number of interested parties.

Owain Service

Owain is the Managing Director of the Behavioural Insights Team and Board Director. Owain was previously a Deputy Director of the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, where he led programmes of work on public service reform, education, energy and developed the UK’s first National Security Risk Assessment as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. Prior to that, Owain chaired European negotiations while at the Foreign Office during the UK Government’s 2005 Presidency of the European Union. Owain holds degrees from Cambridge and the London School of Economics and has written widely on public policy strategy and behavioural insights, having co-authored most of the team’s papers (including ‘Test, Learn, Adapt’, ‘Behaviour Change and Energy Use’ and the EAST paper).

Jeni Tennison (OBE)

Jeni is the CEO of the Open Data Institute. She gained a PhD from the University of Nottingham then worked as an independent consultant, specialising in open data publishing and consumption, before joining the ODI as Technical Director in 2012 and becoming CEO in 2016. Jeni works with the UK’s public sector as a member of the Open Standards Board. She served on the W3C’s Technical Architecture Group from 2011 to 2015 and co-chaired the W3C’s CSV on the Web Working Group. She sits on the Advisory Boards for the Open Contracting Partnership and the UK’s Information Law and Policy Centre; the Board of Ada, the UK’s National College for Digital Skills; and the Co-operative’s Digital Advisory Board.

Simon Wardley

Simon is a Researcher for Leading Edge Forum, a global research and leadership programme dedicated to helping large organizations reimagine their organisations for a technology-driven future.  Simon is also lead practitioner for LEFs Wardley Maps Advisory service which helps clients anticipate market and ecosystem developments so they know where to go and why.

His focus is on strategic play both at an industrial and global level. He is the author of multiple reports including “Clash of the Titans: Can China Dethrone Silicon Valley?”, a pioneer in the use of topographical intelligence within business, a former executive and an advisory board member for several successful start-ups.

He has twice been voted as one of the UK’s top 50 most influential people in technology. Simon has spent the last 20 years defining future strategies for companies in the FMCG, Retail and Technology industries. He is a passionate advocate in the fields of strategic play, organisational structure, open source and leadership and is a regular presenter at conferences worldwide.


Chris Gorst

Chris heads up the Open Up Challenge, bringing his professional experience spanning the public, commercial and social sectors. He was a Senior Economist at HM Treasury and the Prime Minister’s Energy Review, worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and as a strategy consultant at The Boston Consulting Group. He designed and delivered a groundbreaking accelerator programme for 1,000 UK small business leaders at Goldman Sachs. Chris has an MSc in Economics from Birkbeck, an MPhil in European Literature from Oxford University and an MA (Cantab) in Modern and Medieval Languages from Cambridge University.


Andrea Richardson

Andrea is the assistant programme manager coordinating the implementation of the Open Up Challenge. Prior to joining Nesta, Andrea specialised in not-for-profit audit and earned her chartered professional accounting (CPA) designation at KPMG Toronto. Andrea has a BComm from Queen’s University (Canada) and an MSc International Management from the London School of Economics.


Harry Atkinson

Harry is digital content and entrant manager co-ordinating outreach efforts to innovators.

Prior to joining Nesta, he managed online and offline content for a financial services think tank. During this time, he developed a strong interest in financial services technology.