Tech Nation names new chair

Tech Nation has announced Stephen Kelly as its new chair, succeeding Eileen Burbidge, who has served since 2015.

He has had a long career in the tech industry, starting at Oracle in 1988 as an executive of the European management team. After nine years there, he joined Californian enterprise software startup Chordiant, becoming chief executive in 2001.

Kelly returned to the UK in 2006 to become chief executive of software firm Micro Focus International, stepping down in 2009. In 2011 he joined the government as chief operating officer and head of the Efficiency and Reform Group in 2012.

In November 2014 he became enterprise software company Sage Group's first externally appointed chief executive, leading the acquisitions of North American cloud-based financial software company Intacct and cloud-based HR software firm Fairsail.

In 2015, Kelly was appointed as one of six new prime minister's business ambassadors to help boost the UK’s performance in international trade. At the end of August 2018, Sage announced that he would step down as a director and chief executive.

As chair, Kelly will play liaise directly with community representatives and tech entrepreneurs, supporting chief executive Gerard Grech as Tech Nation continues to expand its network of growth programmes, events, data and knowledge resources to fuel the growth of the UK scaleup tech ecosystem.

Tech Nation has already contributed up to £436 million to the economy (gross value add) through its activities and programmes with scale-ups and is on track to deliver £1 billion by 2025.

Kelly will join Grech and Tech Nation’s existing board members: Lesley Eccles, co-founder of FanDuel and chief executive at Relish; Tim Luke, vice-chairman, technology media and telecoms group at Barclays; David Richards, founder and chief executive at WANdisco; and Sarah Wood, author of Stepping Up and co-founder at Unruly.

Kelly said: “Tech is my DNA, and I am hugely excited about applying the lessons I have learnt and my experience as a CEO, investor, director and mentor to help the next generation of UK scale-ups.”

Burbidge added: “Stephen’s experience both as a tech entrepreneur and scaling mentor will bring deep experience to the board, and I have no doubt that with his leadership alongside Gerard and the team, we will see tremendous impact from Tech Nation and sustained growth for the UK tech sector.”

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