The new members of the board at Tech Nation will look to help bolster the UK’s tech sector to aid economic recovery in the wake of Covid-19, bringing experience across business, academia and government, with roles as founders, investors and leaders.
The new appointments will have the opportunity to guide the next phase of UK tech sector development beyond the pandemic, and will bring links and ties to tech hubs around and outside the country, including Asia and Silicon Valley.
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“The UK tech sector has demonstrated resilience throughout this crisis, and is key to unlocking future growth, job creation and prosperity in the Digital Age,” said Stephen Kelly, chair at Tech Nation.
“I’m looking forward to working with Annette, Eric, Hussein and Trecilla, who bring their invaluable experience to the Tech Nation board. The stakes are high for the UK given the Covid-19 economic fall-out, and it was imperative to build an exceptional, world-class board to lead Tech Nation’s delivery of a key aspect of Britain’s vision for the future in taking the UK’s tech companies to global market leadership.”
Gerard Grech, chief executive at Tech Nation, commented: “I’m pleased to welcome Hussein Kanji, Annette Wilson, Eric Collins and Trecilla Lobo onto the Tech Nation board. Together they bring decades of experience and leadership from both within and outside of the tech ecosystem in the UK, and internationally.”
Tech Nation received just under 300 applications for the non-executive director positions, with the body continuing to keep a need for diversity in mind as well as hiring based on merit.
This announcement comes as Tech Nation looks to unlock the potential of 1,000 scaling tech leadership teams across the UK, with the aim of generating an additional $1 billion to the UK economy by March 2022.
Prior to going into the VC space, Wilson held management roles with LSE listed companies in the insurance industry, having started her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
In addition, Wilson currently serves as chair of Europe and adviser to Antler, as well as staying with Finch Capital as an advisor.
“I am delighted to join the Board of Tech Nation and also take on the role of Chair of the Audit Committee,” said Wilson. “The UK has held one of the leading positions in innovation globally, and Tech Nation has an important role to play in supporting and nurturing innovation-led tech businesses as they scale.
“The innovative technological developments are creating significant business opportunities which should play an important part in the future economic growth domestically and globally. I look forward to serving on the board and also working with the Tech Nation team.”
Eric Collins has spent his whole career within tech, having overseen innovative strategies most recently at Touch Surgery, where he was COO, as well as AOL, TimeWarner (now part of AT&T) and Tegic/Nuance Communications.
In 2018, Collins helped to establish Impact X Capital Partners, which looks to invest in under-represented innovators across Europe.
As well as being appointed to Tech Nation’s board, Collins currently serves on the board of Autograph ABP, as well as being an advisor to companies in the UK, US and India.
“Tech Nation has an unmatched set of resources that have been deployed to build a robust tech ecosystem,” said Collins. “All the UK businesses with which I have had the privilege to be affiliated have benefitted from Tech Nation’s programmes as well as visa endorsements.
“I look forward to applying those resources very deliberately to help accelerate the growth of tech businesses founded by under-represented entrepreneurs. This is a real opportunity for the UK economy.”
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As well as joining Tech Nation as board director, Hussein Kanji is currently a partner at Hoxton Ventures, representing the firm on the boards of Biotx, Giraffe360, Kbox Global and Skin Analytics, among others.
Prior to forming Hoxton, Kanji was an associate with Accel Partners in London, joining Accel from Microsoft Corporation, and has previously served on the boards of Babylon Health, bd4travel (acquired by Dnata), Campanja (acquired by 24/7 Media, now Xaxis), and Deliveroo.
In addition, Kanji has helped the UK government with policy initiatives to develop the local tech industry.
“It’s been great to see the UK develop a vibrant, thriving technology cluster in the past decade,” said Kanji. “Our fund has benefitted from the UK’s transformation into a major player in the global tech ecosystem.
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to help from the sidelines, and I am now looking forward to being able to work closely with the board and executive team of Tech Nation to help build the UK into one of the absolute best places in the world for tech.”
Trecilla Lobo is the current senior vice-president, people at BenevolentAI, and has over 20 years’ experience in senior HR roles in digital media, pharmaceutical and technology companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Receipt Bank.
Additionally, Lobo served as chief people officer at SwiftKey (acquired by Microsoft in 2016), and took on the role of HR lead for artificial intelligence at Microsoft (UK) post-acquisition.
“Tech employs more than a fifth of the workforce in the UK’s biggest cities, and over the coming years Tech Nation will play a significant part in continuing to create an ecosystem for growth in the UK economy,” said Lobo.
“People are at the heart of any scaling and growing tech company, bringing innovation and creativity to build the products and services to drive growth. By joining the Tech Nation team as a non-executive director, I am looking forward to using my experience of leading people functions within high-growth tech companies, to make a positive impact and contributing to the UK’s tech ecosystem, particularly during these challenging times.”