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The Accelerate Cambridge team

Luther Philips

Luther Phillips

Accelerate Cambridge Programme Manager


Luther's day job is to be the programme manager for Accelerate Cambridge, the CJBS "in-house" accelerator supporting venture creation out of Cambridge. Luther is a social entrepreneur and an environmental activist at heart.

Over the years, he has led many environmental initiatives around the river, combining volunteering and a social enterprising approach to organise many successful region wide river clean-ups events, attracting over 1,200 volunteers.

Babita Devi


Babita Devi is a coach and entrepreneur with over 25 years' experience in marketing, strategy and business development. Babita started her career in Enterprise Resource Planning where she successfully built pipeline through clearly defined strategies with measurable outcomes. She quickly progressed into management in her early 20s and then went on to work for the world's largest optics company. As part of the European Marketing team, her role encompassed brand strategy, communications development and implementation planning.

In 2004, Babita emigrated to Australia and set up bStrategic. Whilst in Australia, Babita's work ranged from developing strategies for the launch of a major Civic Centre to raising investment for a major art complex.

Babita now resides in the UK where bStrategic has been operating since 2006. Clients have included the University of Birmingham where Babita was responsible for a complete overhaul of all commercial services offered by the university and successful implementation of a program that led to a direct increase in bookings. Other clients include Opus5K (clinical monitoring software) where Babita was responsible for identifying opportunities for commercialisation in the NHS. Babita has also worked extensively in the licensing industry during her time at Amscan International, where she advised on marketing and mentored the marketing team. Her role transitioned into Head of Strategy and quickly grew license revenues through product and market development in EMEA. She currently coaches and advises Gemar, Europe's largest manufacturer of latex balloons, helping to establish them as an international business.

Babita set up a technology company in 2015, where she created an app to improve communication between communities. She has lectured on entrepreneurial narketing at Anglia Ruskin University and Lincoln University Business School and has co-authored a book aimed at female entrepreneurs.

Babita draws on experience from a broad range of industries and is able to offer a unique perspective through her coaching skills, helping business owners achieve growth and find success, underpinned with solid marketing and business development strategies.

Kamilla Spark

Kamilla Spark

Corporate finance specialist


Kamilla Spark is a corporate finance specialist with more than two decades experience as an advisor, investment manager and non-executive director of large industrials and public sector institutions.

Prior to founding her own corporate finance advisory practice, Kamilla was a Director of Mezzanine Management, the largest mezzanine investor in Europe at the time. Before that she was a banker with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Senior Advisor to a closed-end, listed private equity fund. In these positions she structured, implemented and oversaw debt and equity investments in a range of companies from both public and private sectors.

Until recently Kamilla was a Non-Executive Director of Giza Polish Ventures, a regional venture capital fund and a Non-Executive Director and Chair of the Audit Committee of PCC Exol (WSE: PCX), a leading Polish-American producer of industrial chemicals with annual revenues of $150 million. Previously she was a Non-Executive Director of Kety Group, a Warsaw- and London-listed manufacturer of aluminium joinery and flexible packaging with annual revenues of nearly $800 million. In addition Kamilla served her community as a Governor and member of the Audit Committee of Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, one of the largest secondary education institutions in the UK. Kamilla is currently a lay trustee and member of the Audit and Risk Committee of the National Union of Students UK (NUS). 

Kamilla received her MBA (Finance and Accounting) from Columbia Business School in 1996. She has been a UK Chartered Director and Fellow of The Institute of Directors since 2010.

Sheila Kissane-Marshall.

Sheila Kissane-Marshall

'Reach High'


Sheila has an Engineering (Aeronautical, Mechanical and Civil) degree from Queen Mary and Westfield (part of UCL). After graduating in 1998 she specialised as a civil engineer and joined AMEC, now Morgan Sindall on their Chartership Training programme. She later moved into a client role and managed significant infrastructure delivery for BAA, Dublin Airport Authority and the developers of the Shard.

Over the course of her 20 years in the construction sector she has gained a breadth of experience working as; contractor, designer, consultant and client. Delivering a vast portfolio of projects, from; runways and taxiways (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Dublin, Edinburgh) to tunnelling (Westminster station, Jubilee line extension) to rebuilding the M25 and M11 and associated bridges, and the Shard at London Bridge.

As a Capital Investment Director Sheila was responsible for a £100 million portfolio of infrastructure projects, as part of a wider £2 billion upgrade project.

This career has given Sheila expert knowledge of; complex project management, commercial and risk management, project governance, programme management and most critical of all, building and driving high performing teams.

Sheila is currently working as a coach advising startup companies on the University of Cambridge Judge Business School’s Accelerate programme.  She is also an investor in Cambridge-based startups. She is the Independent Project Board Chair for the Royal Cambridge Hotel Project, and a construction consultant. The founder of Bosom Buddies, a cancer support startup, that runs 12-week rehabilitation courses for cancer patients, and support groups. She is a Trustee for the new Cambridge ice rink, and the Cambridge United Charitable Trust and an active participant in the Cambridge Homelessness summit. She also enjoys speaking about the hugely exciting world of engineering, and inspiring others to pursue the best career on the planet.

Catharina James

Catharina James



A chemist (MSc) and materials scientist (PhD) by training, Catharina started her first company in nanomaterials technology in 2012 during her PhD in Materials Science at the University of Cambridge. For the following six years and subsequent to a successful funding round, she set the Research and Development strategy for the company as its Chief Scientist and was involved in materials & reactor engineering, production standardisation and IP management. She gained experience in the product development process to prototype stage in a variety of technology areas. Her experience in market research and developing business cases spans fields from coatings, composites and inks to plasma engineering and led to partnerships in many industries like automotive, construction and textiles. She was further involved in all areas of the business including HR in recruitment, team building and management and contract negotiation. Catharina was the company's face for PR purposes and her effective engagement with all media outlets from print to TV earned her the title of "The First Lady of Graphene" and one of the eight business leaders to watch in 2015 by UK media.

Her present business, DRCJ Consulting, facilitates innovation through collaboration between corporates and startups. Current client projects include the design of an innovative waste management plant for a developing market and establishing circularity in the use of polymers in packaging.

Catharina is part of the Advisory Boards of the Linz Institute of Technology as well as the Austrian Future Academy. Her work was recognised at Manchester's Wonder Materials exhibition currently exhibiting in the Hong Kong Science Museum. Catharina has been awarded Fellowship of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in recognition of her role in the design of new nanomaterial manufacturing systems.

Andrew Hatcher

Andrew Hatcher


Specialties: strategy development, communication and implementation, innovation management, and strategic marketing.


Andrew is the Managing Director of MAPP,  a company that develops visual planning tools for developing and sharing plans of all kinds. 

Andrew has a long history of identifying, developing and managing innovation within corporate environments and notably created an implemented a comprehensive and international innovation management system while working for Reuters, the European media group. His career at Reuters culminated in a role as CEO of an Asian-based Internet trading corporate spin-out in Singapore which he took through initial VC funding and on to a trade sale.

As author of Inventuring - why big companies must think small (McGraw Hill, 2003), which tackles the subject of corporate venturing from a practitioners perspective, Andrew brings with him the experience of over 200 companies that were researched for the book as well as his own extensive experience in the areas of business start-up and in the specialist area of innovation management and corporate venturing. 

With a personal corporate history that includes journalism, software development, project management, marketing and strategic sales. Andrew draws on a wealth of experience in all aspects of business management gained through working internationally, predominantly in the US and UK.

Andrew received both a Bachelors in Engineering and an MBA in international business from the University of London and is a Fellow of Cambridge Marketing Colleges.

Reinhard Eschbach.

Reinhard Eschbach

'Common Sense'


Reinhard Eschbach has more than 30 years' significant practical experience, specifically focusing on digitalisation, digital marketing, business development, change management, and restructuring areas, such as e-commerce, product development and IT within several industries like travel, financial services, retail (food and other consumer goods).

He has worked in several senior executive roles up to board level, implementing cultural and organisational change with a strong focus on business improvement combined with key strengths include setting strategic directions, problem solving combined with sound technical understanding and the ability to translate business requirements into technical solutions. A subject matter expert with the skills, knowledge and confidence, to lead and implement highly complex and sophisticated projects from start to finish being able to make effective judgement and prioritisation calls and influence at all levels. Several developments and implementations from new business ideas into a proper operation.

Gaynor Fryers

Gaynor Fryers



Now an independent consultant, Gaynor was previously Vice-President of Business Development at AstraZeneca. Her UK and US teams were responsible for identifying, evaluating and negotiating opportunities in the areas of Oncology, Infection, Personalised Healthcare and Science & Technology Licensing.

Gaynor joined AstraZeneca in 2007 from Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT) where she was the Vice-President of Business Development. Before joining CAT she worked at Bespak and at Bio Products Laboratory.

She has a wide range of experience in healthcare organisations, including licensing, merger, disposal and company acquisition. She has worked for large and small organisations, public and private sector and has established startup and joint venture businesses. 

Gaynor has a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford and an MBA from Manchester Business School. She lives near Cambridge with her husband and has three children.

Tony Harris

Tony Harris



Anthony (Tony) Harris is a business angel, entrepreneur, technologist and thirty-year tech-industry veteran. He co-founded Software 2000/Software Imaging in 1989 and the company’s OEM software revolutionised colour desktop inkjet and digital copier printing worldwide. After exiting in 2007 he completed an MA at the University of Oxford and an MA(Res) and is currently finishing writing up his PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Tony’s areas of expertise cover intellectual property, corporate finance, development team structure and management, and international export. He is a Cambridge Angel, a member of Cambridge Capital Group and Henley Business Angels, and sits on the Investor Committee for Oxford Capital Partners. In terms of charitable/unremunerated work he is the honorary Treasurer of Regent’s Park College (Oxford), sits on the finance committee of Kellogg College (Oxford), and is the Registered Treasurer of the Liberal Democrats (National Party), a non-executive unremunerated role, focusing on finance and compliance.

In his spare time Tony enjoys skiing, cycling, and is a keen private pilot of helicopters and light aircraft including floatplanes. He is also a National Rowing Umpire.

Rafik Jallad

Rafik Jallad

‘The Negotiator’


Rafik is the founder and CEO of BlueCreation, an Internet of Things (IoT) focused company. Rafik grew BlueCreation with an international customer base and sold it to Sierra Wireless in November 2016. Previously Rafik was Vice President at CSR (now part of Qualcomm) responsible for its Automotive division. Rafik has also worked at McKinsey and has an MBA from INSEAD.  

Tony Kypreos

Tony Kypreos


Tony is an entrepreneur with exits and an authority on corporate innovation, startups and entrepreneurship across sustainability, telecom, media, technology, healthcare and consumer brands.

His corporate experience includes being a member of the Executive Board of T-Mobile International & Deutsche Telekom's corporate venturing T-Ventures as global EVP Business Development & Innovation and Group Managing Director of Bauer Digital for the €1.4 billion M&A and post-merger integration of EMAP. He has held senior international leadership positions in FMCG brand marketing (Nestle, Diageo).

His startup and growth stage experiences include being the co-founder of mobile entertainment company Mobilephonia, leading the turnaround and sale of digital services agency Bluewave (Maersk) and the leadership team for the $800 million IPO of (NASDAQ: ACOM). Co-founder and the founding investor of accelerator Springboard (acquired by Techstars).

Tony was Founder and CEO of healthtech company Dupl, which provides context to biometric sensor data via communication and evidence-based sports psychology. Exit achieved via acqui-hire and IP sale. He is an investor and board advisor in mobile technology, digital media, gaming, nanotechnology, sustainability, cleantech, healthtech and software ventures with M&A exits to Oracle, Piksel, Nokia and Opentext.

He is currently an advisor to the UK government’s Global Entrepreneur Programme identifying the world’s leading IP-based startups for global expansion from a UK headquarters, a coach at Cambridge Accelerator and an advisor and mentor with Accelerate2030 to scale internationally the impact of entrepreneurs working towards achieving positive social and environmental change.

Tony has an MBA from Henley Business School specialising in corporate venturing, BSc (Hon) Physics & Electronic Systems, from Brunel University and is a certified NLP practitioner from the University of California.

Nitin Patel.

Nitin Patel

IOD Manufacturing Ambassador for Cambridge


Nitin is a general management executive and CEO with operational and commercial skills gained from developing strategy and implementing change/turnround programmes involving design innovation, operational and manufacturing excellence in the UK and Internationally.

He has worked on several acquired businesses for a private company, developing a culture of efficiency, innovation and an entrepreneurial attitude to growing the business and its markets, both in the UK and Internationally.

A significant part of Nitin's early work experience was gained from working with General Motor in its various global operations in Europe, Asia and North America, reaching the position of European Powertrain Manager based in its European Head Office in Zurich, leading design, innovation and manufacturing.

Nitin is a graduate in manufacturing from the University of Bath and a fellow in manufacturing management at Cass Business School. Nitin is married with two daughters and enjoys playing golf and watching sports.

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas



Chris has significant experience in pharma, biotech and healthcare, and is an internationally recognised Company Director and Business Coach with a sustained record of achievement in global pharmaceuticals, healthcare technology and management consultancy.

He was UK Sales and Marketing Director at AstraZeneca and from 2002-2018 provided commercialisation and management consultancy to global Pharma as Company Director at Oxford PharmaGenesis, an internationally renowned health science communication consultancy which was recognised by the Queen's Award for Enterprise in 2015. His expertise includes global launch excellence and strategic brand planning for more than 15 brands across a wide range of therapy areas, driving commercial excellence and new selling models, and providing management coaching on a one-to-one basis exclusively with chief executive officers and board directors.

Chris has practical hands-on experience in growing and shaping businesses of all sizes and all stages - new or early ventures, SMEs or top ten pharma - and supporting them in realising commercial opportunities and developing business models for scalable growth to achieve maximum commercial success and shareholder value.

Chris has experience in Europe, US, APAC and LATAM and is particularly interested in personalised medicine, genomics and wearables, encompassing access to doctors, access to medicines and advances in early diagnosis.