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Simon Gibson CBE & Mike Doyle

Professor Simon Gibson CBE co-founded the Alacrity Foundation with Owen Matthews in 2009. Mike Doyle was appointed CEO when the Foundation opened its doors in South Wales in 2011.  With the backing of Sir Terry Matthews, OBE and the UK and Welsh Government, Alacrity aims to educate graduates to become a new generation of IT entrepreneurs.

Simon joined the GPO as a telephone technician. He worked with telecommunications companies during the period of deregulation and joined Newbridge Network Corporation at its start-up in 1987. He was VP of marketing and helped build it into a $7.1 billion company. Simon and Michael Doyle founded Ubiquity Software in 1993, which was a leader in the development of the (ubiquitous) Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and achieved one of the biggest VC funding rounds in the history of the software industry in the UK.

 

Michael Doyle was sponsored through university by GEC Telecommunications, where he wrote software for the Systems X exchange. He worked as a contractor for five years and then co-founded Ubiquity with Gibson. 

 

The Alacrity Foundation is operating in 8 locations around the world. It has been responsible for helping young entrepreneurs launch new ventures based on a demand-driven model. Many graduated companies from Alacrity have successfully scaled up and raised further funding rounds.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting has been fascinated by telecommunications since childhood, and a love of science fiction, particularly the writings of Arthur C Clarke, fostered his enthusiasm for technology.

At school his best subjects were English, French and Latin, but in those days it was hard to combine sciences and arts. So he did A’levels in chemistry, maths and his favourite, physics, going on to gain a degree in electronic and electrical engineering at the University of Surrey, and a PhD.

In 1985, Sir Martin set up Surrey Satellite Technology with about £100 and four employees. The company pioneered rapid-response, low-cost and highly capable small satellites, on which much of our modern life depends. In 2008, SST was sold to Airbus Defence & Space for £50m, but Sir Martin is still executive chairman. The company now has 400 professional staff, annual revenues of more than $100m and total export sales in excess of $1bn to 25 countries. Among its many focuses is clearing up the increasing amount of space debris, which represents a significant threat to the next generation of satellites.

Sir Martin was awarded an OBE in 2002 and won the 2008 Arthur C Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and listed by Sunday Times as one of the 500 most influential UK citizens.

Professor Jim McLaughlin OBE

Professor James Mclaughlin OBE is working on portable / wearable diagnostic devices that will transform personal healthcare with automatic monitoring of heart rates, blood sugar levels and the like, reporting the results and triggering alerts over mobile . He worked on the team that developed the first external defibrillator and is now the director of the Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre at the University of Ulster. He holds over 30 patents including for the world’s best-selling disposable medical electrode. He has successfully co-founded a set of spin-off companies while raising over £100 million of research funding.

Dr Martin Read CBE

Dr Martin Read CBE is credited with the transformation of Logica, from the archetypal British 20th century software house with a headcount of 3,000 largely centred in the UK, to a 21st century dynamic enterprise with a headcount in excess of 40,000 based in over 40 countries. Martin followed the familiar path from grammar-school boy in Basingstoke to Oxford DPhil in Physics via Cambridge. He then deviated from a classic scientific career path and commenced his employment in shipping container logistics, where he applied his intellect to operations and strategic planning and worked abroad.

After a spell in the marine business of International Paint, his commercial and management skills were honed working for Lord Weinstock at GEC, before he was headhunted to Logica. After 14 years in the software industry, Dr Read again switched track and has been in high demand for a diverse portfolio of chair, non-executive director and senior advisory roles in industry and Government. His advice to the next generation is to begin their careers in well-managed organisations and to gain early experience in sales and working abroad .

Vin Murria OBE

Vin Murria is an outstandingly successful serial creator of  ‘Tech Unicorns’, businesses that grow to be valued at over $1Bn.  A key mentor gave her the chance, straight out of university, to run a company and she learned from him the trade of management, acquisition, turnaround and then start-up of her own new businesses.  In conversation with Jane Bird for Archives of IT she talked about how her early life and upbringing equipped her for a career as a Tech Entrepreneur and gave us some insights into how successful companies work and how to build them.  In an industry that struggles to attract its fair share of women, she tells how she achieved her success in spite of (or maybe with the benefit of) the triple challenge of being young, Asian and female, observing that diversity brings many benefits to business.