Skip to content

Business & Economy

Innovation support organisation strengthens senior team with promotions and new appointments

The Innovation SuperNetwork has strengthened its senior management team with three promotions and a newly recruited compliance post.

The restructure includes promotions for Graeme Miller as head of innovation; Shelley Armstrong as head of communications & engagement; and Alison Freer as head of operations and development. The company has also appointed Austin Rickerby as head of compliance.

The newly formed Senior Management Team will support CEO, Estelle Blanks, who took up her role at the helm of the innovation support organisation in April 2021.

Speaking about the appointments Estelle, said: “We’ve built a diverse senior management team of individuals with a huge amount of skill and experience in their expert fields. We are entering an exciting period of growth with an extension to our ERDF funding in place and new projects on the horizon, all focussed on supporting regional small and medium-sized enterprises to grow through innovation.

“We are working hard to drive innovative practice and continued economic prosperity for the North East. A strong senior management team and extensive sector expertise through our clusters is key to helping us achieve this ambitious goal.”

With experience working across all five regional universities, the public and private sectors and a role with the North East Satellite Application Centre, Graeme Miller has significant strength of knowledge across the regional innovation landscape. He started as Innovation Manager at the SuperNetwork in 2018 where he was tasked with working directly with small and medium-sized businesses to support their innovation development and growth. As Head of Innovation he will have direct responsibility for managing the organisation’s innovation support programme working with Innovation Managers across the SuperNetwork’s funded cluster programme.

Specialising in media relations and PR, Shelley Armstrong has a track-record of delivering often complex communications projects in public-private organisations. She spent nine years at destination management organisation, NewcastleGateshead Initiative before joining the Innovation SuperNetwork as communications manager in 2018. She has managed the SuperNetwork’s digital communications approach through a period of growth and will lead the company’s strategic marketing direction as it continues to adapt to the innovation needs of regional businesses.

A specialist in leadership coaching for technical experts, Alison Freer has also developed a niche in enabling innovation thinking from boardrooms to front line teams. She has spent the last year at the SuperNetwork delivering the Challenge North East programme with the North East LEP. Alison will lead the company’s development growing the volume and impact of innovation programmes available to North East businesses.

With a diverse range of compliance and project management experience spanning 20 years at organisations including the Department for International Trade, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and Northumbria University, Austin Rickerby has joined the Innovation SuperNetwork as head of compliance. His role will oversee the successful delivery of the company’s ERDF and other publicly funded projects.