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Dave Miles

As Director of Safety Policy at Meta (formerly Facebook) for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Dave Miles has more than thirty years of executive management experience in the technology, regulatory and charitable sectors.

Among Dave’s significant career moments was his participation in the Child Dignity in the Digital World Congress and 2017 Declaration of Rome, returning to the Vatican in 2019 to respond on Facebook’s behalf to the Pope’s call to action.

He is optimistic that technology can now provide safer solutions for young people, and says the industry is highly motivated to keep its platforms safe, so that people will continue to use them.

“The challenge will be about balancing privacy and safety for young people. The UK’s draft Online Safety Bill is very exciting and Meta looks forward to its publication,” he says. “If we get it right here in the UK, other countries will follow. In 10 years, the internet will be a more mature, regulated environment and we will stop perhaps calling it the “Wild West.”

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.

Paul Mason

Paul Mason is Director of Innovation Policy at Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. The role gives him a key role in determining the future of technology across the nation.

It could have been different. An enthusiastic jazz player in his teens, he almost became a professional musician. But decided instead to study chemistry. The income prospects for a scientist were more reliable than for a freelance jazz player, he says. “Career choice has to be a compromise between what you love, what you do well and what people are prepared to pay for.”

Paul acknowledges the huge educational opportunities he has experienced, first at his local comprehensive then at Balliol College, Oxford. “The quality of staff at school and university, and the time they invested in their students’ education, was huge,” he says.

Graduating in 1984, he rejected merchant banking and took up a full-time job at Courtaulds, which had sponsored his degree. It was there that he first used a networked computer, which the company had installed for its researchers to share their work and exchange reports.

During 25 years in the chemical industry, Paul worked on a wide range of technologies and markets. At Courtaulds, he worked on industrial and apparel fibres, high-tech and packaging films, separation technologies, polymers for a range of applications including LCD polarising filters and sunglasses frames, dyeing technologies, anti-fouling coatings for shipping, and in many other areas including spells in Europe, the US and Japan. He went on to hold change management, manufacturing, and commercial roles in Akzo Nobel and CVC/Acordis.

In 2007, Paul became Head of Development at the newly-formed Technology Strategy Board, which later morphed into Innovate UK. He is responsible for corporate strategy and the programmes that support its development and implementation.

Over the years, Paul has set up and launched national innovation programmes in areas such as agriculture and food, stratified medicine, disease diagnosis and creative industries. In many of these, the UK is world-leading, he says.

Not every idea that gains funding can be expected to succeed. “We’ve invested in some individual projects that went nowhere, but that would happen in industry and with venture capital too – but the programmes overall have been successful.” In innovation the UK is punching well above its weight in many areas, he says, including in offshore renewable energy, creative and digital industries, automotive, aerospace, advanced manufacturing and service industries, and in pharmaceutical and medical industries. For instance, in advanced therapies “about 38% of all European clinical trials are being conducted in the UK.”

Mischa Dohler

Mischa Dohler is now Chief Architect in Ericsson Inc. in Silicon Valley, USA, having previously been Professor in Wireless Communications at King’s College London.

He was born in Germany, into a family of scientific academics, who were also talented in music and business.  He has continued the family tradition, as academic, entrepreneur and musician.  Mischa brings all those skills and interests to bear on his approach to technology, speaking eloquently of its relevance to diverse aspects of our lives; industrial, personal and cultural.

He demonstrated the power of 5G communications to enable collaboration over the Internet in a real time duet with his daughter 1000 km away and looks forward to medicine, industry and culture developing with 6G and the Internet of Things, Skills and beyond.

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.

Liam Maxwell

Liam Maxwell was the UK’s first National Technology Adviser, from April 2016 to August 2018, having been the UK’s first Chief Technology Officer, as part of the Government Digital Service.

He spent seven years in the heart of central government working to get value for money from government’s massive IT investments.  He had contributed to the Conservative Manifesto advocating better services for lower costs in the 2010 general election.  He served in four posts in the Cameron/Clegg coalition then in the Cameron government.

His achievements included breaking the oligopoly of large vendors and insisting on open standards.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

Professor Sir Ian Diamond first encountered a computer as a student at the London School of Economics the mid-1970s. He learnt Fortran and submitted programs on punched cards. “But we never actually used computers to analyse data,” he says.

Computers are now crucial to Sir Ian’s role as the UK’s national statistician, and principal adviser to the UK Statistics Authority and the Government. The task involves using the latest AI, machine learning and textual analysis to tackle some of the thorniest current social and economic challenges.

From the beginning, Sir Ian was interested in the application of statistics to social science, demographics and survey data. Statistics have had a bad press, he says, but when they are rigorous and well put together they are increasingly reliable and powerful. For example, they have recently helped discover how the coronavirus is impacting people disproportionately in different ethnic groups.

After an MSc at the LSE, Sir Ian took a PhD at St Andrews, where he received “outstanding supervision” looking at the problem of relatively high drop-out rates among Scottish students compared with their English counterparts.

His career has included being chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council and vice chancellor of the University of Aberdeen. In 2019, he did not take much persuasion to apply for the post of national statistician.

“It has been a total thrill every day since,” he says. “We need to produce data that the public can trust, and to reflect the economy and society at a time when it is changing very quickly.”

Massive technology change has made it possible to think increasingly radically about all kinds of data, and to produce ever more timely and accurate statistics. But it is really important to have a social theory about what you are doing, says Sir Ian. And to communicate properly, explaining assumptions and ensuring that people can understand the level of uncertainty and margin for error.

For those interested in studying statistics, there can be no better career, he says, and the UK has some of the world’s strongest institutions.

Billy D’Arcy

Billy D’Arcy is Chief Executive Officer for BAI Communications group’s UK operation. A global leader in the design, build and operation of communications networks on transport systems, BAI is installing a network-neutral telecoms infrastructure in the London Underground so that mobile users can get the service from whatever network operator they choose. This decades long project involves investment in excess of £1Bn upgrading the technology into 6G and beyond, as well as providing above ground infrastructure for emergency services, traffic management and Wi-Fi.

Billy has spent 30 years in the telecommunications industry at Cable and Wireless in Ireland, O2 and faced keeping his customers served when WorldCom was in Chapter 11. He shares his views on Ireland, building business enterprises, treating people right and what makes a great shareholder.

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.

Professor Peter Dobson OBE

Prof Peter Dobson OBE was born during WWII in Liskeard,  Cornwall and led a “net zero carbon existence” for his first 14 years without mains electricity or water. 

After Grammar school, he chose a GPO (General Post Office, now BT) scholarship to take him to university and worked alongside Tommy Flowers.  His broad career has covered a wide range of disciplines from physics and chemistry to materials science and engineering and bridged industry (Philips) and academia (Imperial College and Oxford).  Peter was responsible for creating and building The Begbroke Science Park for Oxford University.

Peter has successfully spun-off numerous companies. His latest, Oxford NanoSystems was formed in 2012. He is currently on the advisory board of several companies involved in nano-materials, healthcare and energy. He was awarded the OBE in 2013 in recognition of his contributions to science and engineering.