Awards Judges

The Judging Panel

Ernie Richardson - Chair of Judging Panel

Ernie Richardson, recently retired Managing Partner of venture capital firm MTI, is a graduate chemical engineer and chartered management accountant with many years’ experience in finance and general management in various process industries, prior to joining MTI ( in 1985.  His career has included periods as a process engineer with British Steel Chemicals Division, and various finance roles with speciality chemicals company Laporte Industries, eventually becoming Group Management Accountant, and a spell in international banking with the Royal Bank of Canada. His final position before joining MTI was as the Chief Financial Officer in a $5 million start-up venture in the oil processing sector.

At MTI he was responsible for several of MTI’s most successful transactions and became Managing Partner in 2003, and was actively involved in much of MTI’s fund raising activity. The most recent of these was the £32m fund (, raised to invest in spin-out opportunities with the University of Manchester.

Post retirement he continues to be involved in early stage investing as an NED and advisor / consultant. Ernie is active in a number of industry bodies including the BVCA, and as a non executive member of the investment committee at NESTA ( Other non exec roles include Thomas Swan Chemical Company ( and the Foresight Clearwater VCT where he acts as Chairman.

Ernie is a regular media commentator on the early stage and technology space and speaks regularly at industry conferences in this area.

Andrew MacKintosh - CEO, The Royal Society Enterprise Fund

Andrew joined the Royal Society as founding Chief Executive of the new Royal Society Enterprise Fund in February 2008.  The Royal Society, founded in 1660, is the UK Academy of Science. The Enterprise Fund is an early-stage technology investment fund backed by philanthropy and using the unique assets and networks of the Royal Society to aid investment decisions.

Andrew has over 20 years of commercial and general management experience in publicly and privately owned high-technology companies, during which time he has been the CEO of spin-out companies from both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. 

Andrew has a PhD in Physics from the University of Cambridge, is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and has served on numerous national and regional committees concerned with technical innovation and competitiveness.  He currently sits on the boards of four early-stage companies. He speaks fluent French and conversational Japanese.

Julien Oussadon - Vice President , GP Bulllhound

Julien is a Vice President at GP Bullhound. Julien has over 8 years of technology investment banking experience including working at Arma Partners, Société Générale and JPMorgan in both London and Paris. Julien has executed numerous transactions including buy-side and sell-side as well as public and private M&A. Notable transactions include the merger of VUE and NBC, the acquisition of debitel by freenet, and the sale of Wayfinder to Vodafone. Julien focuses on a number of sectors including mobile value-added services, entertainment software, and financial technology. Julien graduated from Boston University’s School of Management with a double degree in Finance and Management Information Systems.

Chris Lane- Partner Kingston Smith

Chris has been a partner in Kingston Smith since the merger with Callingham Crane in 1991, where he was previously a partner since 1988.

His client portfolio is spread across many business sectors and involves large companies, partnerships and individuals.  Chris has significant experience in both audit and taxation issues, including the audit for a number of AIM listed companies.  He heads up both our Leisure and Hospitality sector group, along with our Entrepreneurial Business sector teams.

He is also responsible for 'Business Doctor', a question and answer column in The Sunday Times which he has been writing since its inception in 1997. 

Steve Smith - Finance Wales

Steve is director for early stage investments at Finance Wales. Finance Wales makes commercial investments into Welsh-based small and medium-sized businesses and specialises in early-stage, development capital and succession deals.

Following a successful career spanning the private, public and academic sectors, Steve joined Finance Wales in 2006 to establish an early stage technology investment division. Having secured a £30 million fund, he now leads an experienced team of specialist investors targeting rapid growth, IP-rich technology start-ups and university spinouts. 

A chartered mechanical engineer by profession, Steve spent his early industrial career as a development engineer working for Wiggins Teape Plc. and as a product design manager with Saunders Valves.  Steve returned to academia to head up an advanced manufacturing unit at the Polytechnic of Wales before joining the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) in 1991. At the WDA he spent 15 years leading various EU backed programmes focussed on technology, innovation and the commercialisation of university intellectual property.  He became head of research and development funding for the Agency in 2000.

Robert Hokin - Chairman & Chief Executive of ecoConnect CIC

ecoConnect is the UK's cleantech association, connections hub and "voice of UK Cleantech" focussing on policy, technology support, investment, jobs and skills. They bring together leadership from cleantech businesses, corporate users, investment providers and policy makers to increase the faster adoption for Green Technology.

Prior to ecoConnect, Robert spent over 20 years in management roles at GEC-Marconi, Worldcom, AseaBrownBoveri (ABB) and McAfee, commercialising and rolling out new technology such as telepresence, RFID and satellite telecommunications. Recognising a pressing need for better business support and policy dialogue in cleantech industry, he founded ecoConnect in 2009. Robert is a keen advocate of best practices in technology innovation, development and practical application in business and industry.

Luke Raskino - Unilever New Business

Luke is an experienced business leader and innovator with a career history that includes roles Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and L’Oreal. He is currently responsible for building new businesses for Unilever in the Health and Wellness space, reporting to Unilever’s Global Chief Technology Officer.

Given that Unilever products serve 1 in 2 of the world’s households; there is a significant opportunity to address some of the health and wellness challenges faced by at risk populations around the world via breakthrough solutions.

Jonathan Jenkins - Unlimited

Jonathan Jenkins, Director of Ventures at UnLtd, has over 15 years experience in fundraising for SMEs from his City career, which included time at a UK merchant bank, and culminated in his role as managing director of Plus Markets, a stock exchange created by his family to enable access to capital for smaller companies. In his time at Plus, over 500 companies raised a total of £2bn.  He joined UnLtd in September 2008 as Director of Ventures, specifically tasked with creating the investment readiness programme and team, to meet the clear requirement for such intermediary support within the social investment market.  UnLtd holds a £100 million endowment to invest in UK social entrepreneurs. Established in 2002 by 7 leading not for profit organisations, UnLtd's mission is to reach out and unleash the energies of people who can transform the world in which they live. UnLtd has the biggest network of social entrepreneurs in the world and has invested approx £40 million of financial and non financial support in some 16,000 individuals, impacting on many thousands more.