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Public funding and innovation experts from TWI and Teesside University

The TIA team is drawn from public funding and innovation experts at TWI, who will help to plot the technical and commercial activities required for successful public funding, and academics at Teesside University who will form the prototyping team.

We will help you understand how to move your idea forward and build partnerships/collaborations that can help make your innovation a commercial success whilst providing access to key enabling technologies to make proof-of-concept models or prototypes.

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The Tees Valley Innovation Accelerator projects is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. Throughout the project we will strive to increase the participation of under-represented groups such as female-led and minority-led SMEs. As the project progresses we will publish more information about our efforts on this website. You can read more about TWI and Teesside University’s commitments to equality, diversity and inclusion here:

The TWI Tees Valley Innovation Accelerator Team

Adrian Duncan Carol Bell Jan Jeffery
Kate Kell Heidi Dyson Thomas Clover
Dan Lord  Marianna Digka James Kern



Adrian Duncan

TIA Project Manager

Adrian is a consultant in the Public Funding Management department (PFM), responsible for quality and systems matters within the Group. He joined TWI in 1984 after completing a PhD in weldability of metals, and worked for 5 years in the Materials Group on materials engineering projects for the O&G and transport sectors. After a 2-year secondment to Department of Trade and Industry (now Innovate UK) as EuroLaser Programme Manager, he returned to TWI and joined the team responsible for management of public funded projects. He has subsequently worked in a variety of roles within TWI’s Programme Management area, having responsibility for commercial (Joint Industry) projects and a wide range of public funded activities, including EC Framework, European Regional Development Fund and UK Government projects. His role as TIA Project Manager runs alongside continuing wider responsibilities within PFM Group.



Carol Bell

Team Manager, Public Funding Management

Carol has been involved in the management of public funded projects in the north east of England for many years. 

In the TIA project Carol is involved with liasing with the funding agency,  and interaction with key stakeholders, business organisations and other intermediaries in the Tees Valley.



Jan Jeffery

SME Support

Jan works as a Project Leader in the Public Funding Management team.  Within TIA,  Jan is responsible for looking after registration, administration and validation when SMEs join.   Jan’s role also includes interaction with the SMEs, ensuring regular communication is maintained with everyone in the programme.  Jan works closely with the Project Manager and assists with internal project management.



Kate Kell

Innovation Funding Specialist

Kate is an Engineer with over 20 years' experience in manufacturing, supply chain, operations management and consultancy roles in sectors including automotive, food and drink, adhesives, polymers, clean energy, optical equipment and medical devices.

In her role at TWI, Kate combines this experience with her success in writing and delivering publicly funded projects to work with TWI technical experts, Innovation Centres and TWI Members providing writing support and reviewing applications for their collaborative technology innovation concepts. Kate also supports the delivery of projects including dissemination and exploitation activities and in project management.

Kate will liaise with other team members from TWI and Teesside University to ensure SMEs enrolled in the programme can access the support that they require to deliver new products and services. She will also provide direct support to the SMEs by finding appropriate funding calls, developing the ideas and supporting the writing and preparation of proposals. Kate will continue to support SMEs with any queries relating to the subsequent management and administration of successful projects.




Heidi Dyson

Group Manager for Public Funding Management

Heidi has over 20 years’ experience in collaborative projects funded by the key public bodies from the EU and UK.

As Group Manager, Heidi oversees the work of the various teams in performing tasks on the full life cycle of a project.  She is also responsible for the strategy and assurance of the work done in publicly funded projects.

Heidi, using her experience as EC expert evaluator, will be reviewing the proposals being written for the SMEs and looking at the activities that could enhance the work of the TWI team in the delivery of TIA for the Tees Valley region. She will work with the TIA team in achieving its objectives to the market the project serves.




Thomas Clover

Marketing for TIA

Thomas helps oversee and manage the marketing activities of TWI Ltd as well as copywriting for the company. Thomas will also provide marketing support to help promote the Tees Innovation Accelerator (TIA) project.




Dan Lord

Intellectual Property Manager

Dan is the TWI Intellectual Property Manager, based in Sheffield. He manages the capture, protection, licensing and enforcement of a portfolio of diverse technologies. Dan will work with the TIA project to provide support, advice and workshops in relation to intellectual property matters.




Marianna Digka

Innovation Funding Specialist

Marianna is an Applied Economist working as an Innovation Senior Project Leader for TWI. Having spent more than 10 years as an entrepreneur and having generated more than £10M in grant funding, she is passionate about the power of small, sustainable businesses with big impact.

In the TIA project Marianna is directly supporting SMEs through personalised support in commercial and funding strategy for growth through innovation. She is making sure that entrepreneurs will receive the proper guidance to help shorten the learning curve en route to bringing novel ideas to the market and maximise successful outcomes. 



The Teesside University Tees Valley Innovation Accelerator Team



Simon Bateson

Digital Manufacturing Product Developer

With a research background in analytical chemistry automation, Simon started at Teesside University lecturing in Analytical Measurement Systems but gravitated towards electronics and has many years experience of circuit design and development, specialising in low power, low noise microcontroller - based measurement systems and interfacing, both wired and wireless; programming in C and assembler for the common microcontroller families; high performance audio; and effective PCB design.



Zulfiqur Ali

Director of Academic Research and Innovation Partnerships

Professor Zulfiqur Ali is Director of Academic Research and Innovation Partnerships at Teesside University and is responsible for the Healthcare Innovation Centre (HIC) where he leads a talented team of scientists and engineers. The HIC is a partnership between Teesside University and TWI.

Zulf’s background is across the science and engineering interface with expertise is in the development and manufacture of novel sensing systems for healthcare applications. He has particular interest in microfluidics and transducers for chemo-bio and physical sensing for point-of-care diagnostics and wearables. Examples of work have included: impedance-based approach for non-invasive monitoring of glucose for diabetes; point-of-care diagnostics for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism; and highly sensitive optical detection using cavity enhanced absorption.

Mayur Parekh

Research Associate

Dr Mayur Parekh has B. Pharm. (Gujarat University, India) and M.S (Pharm) Biotechnology (National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, India) and a PhD from Teesside University on ‘microfluidic tool for cell line production.’ Mayur has worked in industry and has experience of product development. Within TIA, Mayur is responsible for administration and technical support to SMEs for prototype development.