Meet the team

Dr Liz Mear

Dr Liz MearChief Executive, The Innovation Agency

Dr Liz Mear is the Chief Executive of the Innovation Agency. She is also Chair of the national AHSN Network, representing all 15 AHSNs in England.

In addition, she is a Board Director of the Northern Health Science Alliance; a member of the Well North Board; and sits on the Health Service Research UK Network Board. She is co-chair of the NIHR Health Services Research and Delivery Services Dissemination Centre; chair of the North West Procurement Development Board; and vice chair of the North West Coast Genomics Medicine Centre.

She helped to set up the Innovation Agency, before which she was Chief Executive of the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the Cheshire and Merseyside Comprehensive Local Research Network. 

Previously, Liz held a number of director roles in a variety of NHS organisations including the acute sector, mental health and ambulance service.  She worked in local government for 17 years, holding a variety of senior customer service roles. Liz has also worked as a senior management consultant, specialising in public sector business performance improvement and change management.

Gideon Ben-Tovim OBE

Gideon Ben-TovimChair

Gideon Ben-Tovim is Chair of the Innovation Agency, having previously served as Chair of the Liverpool NHS Primary Care Trust and Chair of NHS Merseyside. He is also Chair of Nature Connected, the Liverpool City Region Local Nature Partnership.

Gideon has had a long-standing academic career at the University of Liverpool, where in partnership with Liverpool PCT he helped establish the Liverpool Health Inequalities Research Institute. He is currently Honorary Senior Fellow, having previously been Reader in Sociology. His specialist academic field has been in the field of race, ethnic and community relations, and he has had a strong track record of publications, research and training in this field. He is author, co-author or editor of over 100 books articles, chapters and research reports, including The Local Politics of Race, The Racial Politics of Militant, and Equal Opportunities and the Employment of Black People and Ethnic Minorities on Merseyside.

He was the founding Director of the University of Liverpool"s Race and Social Policy Unit, whose initiatives included running the Commission for Racial Equality"s training programme for their Race Equality Officers over a ten year period, with an associated bespoke, vocational Diploma, and also an MA in Ethnic Studies.

Within the NHS Gideon has played a leading role in human resources and equality and diversity. He  led on HR and equality and diversity within the PCT and NHS Merseyside, and nationally he has served as Chair of Race for Health and as a member of the NHS  Equality and Diversity Council. He was co-chair of the NHS Employers Strategic Equality and Diversity Forum. He is a former Chair of Merseyside Race Equality Council and former Secretary of the Merseyside Anti-Racialist Alliance.

Gideon is a former Liverpool City Councillor for the multi-racial Granby Ward, and he served as Chair of the Education Committee and Leader of the Opposition. He has been Chair of a number of educational bodies including Liverpool Community College and various school governing bodies. He currently chairs the Management Committee of Granby SureStart Early Years Centre within Kingsley Primary School where is the Emeritus Chair.

He was Deputy Chair of the Mayor of Liverpool’s Health Commission and is an Advisory Member of the Liverpool Health and Wellbeing Board which he previously co-chaired. He is a Public Service Director of the Liverpool and Sefton Health Partnership (Liftco).

He has been awarded an OBE for services to health, and has been made an Honorary Alderman of Liverpool City Council.

Bruce Ash

Bruce AshVice Chair

After graduating in Economics and Administration from Bath University in 1973 Bruce has spent most of his career in the healthcare sector, initially working in a variety of corporate marketing and strategic roles for the Dickinson Robinson Group, prior to managing two of their medical devices divisions.

In 1987 Bruce relocated from Bristol to Lancashire joining Vernon Carus Ltd as an executive director becoming MD in 1990 which he continued doing until the company was acquired in 2008. Bruce was also was Chairman of a number of subsidiary companies including two international businesses. Whilst at Vernon Carus he had a non-executive position with Celltran a start-up cell therapy business in Sheffield.

During this period Bruce was also on the Executive and Council of the Medical Device Industry Association (ABHI) as well as chairing other sector Trade Associations both in the UK and Europe.

For the past five years Bruce has been acting as an Advisor for ABHI and also serves as Chair of their Industry Code of Practice Compliance Panel.  Bruce has also held various advisory and non-executive positions both in the private and public sectors including Deputy Chair of NTAC (NHS Technology Adoption Centre) and Chair of Medilink North West.

Bruce joined the North West  Coast AHSN and took on the role of Vice Chair in June 2014.

Dr Bina Rawal

Dr Bina RawalNon-Executive Director

Until January 2015, Dr Bina Rawal was the Director of Research, Medical & Innovation at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and had responsibility for driving the agenda for Research & Development and Innovation on behalf of ABPI member companies in the UK. She joined the ABPI in 2012 from the Wellcome Trust where she was Head of Clinical Development within the research charity"s Technology Transfer (Innovations) Division.

Prior to her time at the Wellcome Trust, she spent sixteen years in senior leadership roles at Roche and GlaxoWellcome R&D. She completed her undergraduate and postgraduate medical training in London and holds Fellowships of the Royal College of Pathologists and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine. 


Dr Phil Jennings

Dr Phil JenningsMedical Director

Dr Phil Jennings has a dual role, as Medical Director for the Innovation Agency and Deputy Medical Director for NHS England (Cheshire and Merseyside), while continuing to practise as a freelance GP in Merseyside, with a specialist interest in cardiology. At the Innovation Agency, he leads on patient safety and digital health and is helping to steer a digital health strategy for the North West Coast.

He was previously the Primary Care Lead for the Cheshire and Merseyside Cardiac Network and helped to develop the Wirral Intermediate Cardiac Clinic. He joined the management team of Wirral PCT and subsequently became Chairman of NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group, where he led the organisation through its development and authorisation.

Lorna Green

Lorna GreenCommercial Director

Lorna joined the Innovation Agency in March 2014 after working in the healthcare industry for 17 years. Having started her career as a State Registered Dietician in the NHS, Lorna has worked for Fresenius Kabi Ltd, Vernon Carus Ltd, Healthcare Enterprise Group PLC and Phagenesis Ltd in a variety of senior management roles in sales, marketing and business development and at board level.

After 10 years in sales and marketing, Lorna joined a venture capital firm, Merseyside Special Investment Fund, as healthcare business consultant and went on to work as a self-employed consultant working with SMEs to shape business plans and secure venture capital investment.

Lorna has been involved in commercialising over 40 new healthcare products and technologies both in the UK and internationally. She is a director of eHealth Cluster Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation established to support local SMEs in the eHealth sector, and a member of the Knowledge Transfer Network Medical Technology (KTN) Advisory Board, supporting the translation of medical technologies from the science base through to early adoption.

Caroline Kenyon

Caroline Kenyon

Director of Communications and Engagement

Caroline Kenyon was previously Associate Director of Communications at The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust for four years, where she re-established the communications function and set up a fundraising team. This followed 20 years as a PR consultant, during which time she provided PR and marketing services for numerous NHS organisations; regeneration bodies; and businesses.

She has also delivered media training and crisis PR support for organisations around the country, particularly in the NHS.

Her early career was in journalism, working for regional and national press; BBC local radio in Nottingham and Lancashire; Radio 4 magazine programmes; and Border TV. She was also an interim lecturer in broadcast journalism at the University of Central Lancashire.

Caroline has recently achieved a Diploma in Professional Marketing with the Chartered Institute of Marketing.


Dr Julia Reynolds

Dr Julia ReynoldsProgramme Manager

Dr Julia Reynolds is a Programme Manager at the Innovation Agency North West Coast. Julia leads the Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke Prevention Programme and the Musculoskeletal Innovation Programme.  

Julia has previously held a number of senior manager positions in the public and third sector and led a number of local and national programmes. Key roles she has held include Research and Development in the NHS, Senior Scientific Administrator in the University of Manchester for the NIHR School for Primary Care Research, the CLAHRC for Greater Manchester and Lead for Research and Evaluation at Macmillan Cancer Support.  Julia has also worked with a range of organisations including the Fire and Rescue Service, the National Institute for Innovation and Improvement.

Julia has a PhD in Health Services Research from the University of Liverpool.


Jen Gilroy-Cheetham

Jen Gilroy-Cheetham Programme Manager / Lead for HCS and AHPs

Jen has worked as a Healthcare Scientist within the NHS for over 15 years. Trained as a Clinical Physiologist (Neurophysiology) within the UK"s only dedicated Neuroscience Trust, where she obtained clinical competencies, registration and successfully qualified with a BSc (Hons). She then went on to undertake further academic qualifications and achieved a Masters (MSc) Clinical Physiology (Neurophysiology) in 2011. At present she is also completing a second (MSc) within Innovation and Improvement Science.

Active in the area of improvement science and innovation, with a previous role working for NHS England (Lancashire Area Team) as a Technology Adaption Specialist. Experience includes rolling out a web based incident reporting system for independent contractors within primary care across several Clinical Commissioning Groups and working for a US venture capital company on a real world evaluation of their product within the NHS. She currently sits on the North West Healthcare Science Network Workforce Board and was an AQUA Improvement Science Fellows for 2013-2014.

Jen has been undertaking work on improvement and innovation projects since starting the Innovation Agency in 2013 and works closely within the Innovation Scout programme. She is also maintains her professional registration with The Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP) and the Association of Neurophysiological Scientists (ANS).


Gill Collen

Gill CollenAdministration Assistant

Originally joining the NHS in 1975, Gill has primarily worked locally and is an experienced medical secretary and office supervisor, in addition to gaining experience of working in HR medical staffing.

Gill has been working for the Innovation Agency since July 2014 as office admin assistant providing administration support and is first port of call for telephone enquiries for the team. Gill coordinates the meeting room booking calendar for both internal and external NHS meetings and is the person who will collect visitors from reception for appointments with the directors and wider team.



Andrew Shakeshaft

Andrew Shakeshaft

Associate Director and Head of Programmes

Andy is Associate Director for the Patient Safety Collaborative and Head of Programmes for Patient Safety, leading our patient safety streams across the North West Coast. He is also responsible for the Innovation Exchange which showcases and shares best practice and innovations.

Andy has previously held a number of positions as Director and senior manager working in Acute and Community trust settings and the Ambulance Service. Andy worked for 17 years as Superintendent head of firearms in the Police Service and for 14 years as the senior production engineer at a coal mine.

Andy"s work has included the development of innovative new pathways to support frail and elderly patients, the development of whole system escalation processes, development of national standards for emergency management, customer service improvement strategies, road traffic casualty reduction strategies and performance improvements within the NHS and public sector. This work received international recognition and won business excellence awards.


Anthony Roberts

Anthony Roberts

Corporate Business Manager

Anthony has been with the Innovation Agency since June 2015.  He provides direct support to the

Chief Executive and Executive Team across a range of corporate business functions and leads the co-ordination of corporate projects.  He provides secretariat to the Board and the Finance, Performance and Strategy Committee to ensure the Innovation Agency meets its obligations.  He was previously the Corporate Affairs Manager at North West NHS Commissioning Support Unit (CSU).

Anthony’s 12-year career with the NHS has predominately focussed on providing executive support to Board Chairs and Chief Executives across a number of NHS organisations.  Prior to Anthony’s NHS career, he worked within marketing as a Client Services Manager working with various national companies including Cadbury, Unilever, Liverpool Football Club and the MBNA Corporation.

Anthony is current studying his Company Secretarial and Share Registration Practice certificate with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA).



Deborah Parkinson

Deborah ParkinsonPublic Involvment Lead

Debbie has a background in Citizenship and Participation and previously worked for Wigan Council as Citizenship Lead and NW Co-ordinator for National Healthy Schools Status leading a large team and 143 schools to achieve ‘Healthy School Status’. She formed the joint schools’ Councils for both Primary and Secondary schools, ‘Little Voices’ and ‘Comunik8’ making real changes in schools and education.  Before joining the Innovation Agency, Debbie worked in the private sector on contract to the Department of Work and Pensions where work included both staff and customer forums.  She is passionate about people having a say in what affects them and making a difference and believes ‘Every Voice Matters’. 

Holding a teaching qualification and degree she has taught IT in the community and is a volunteer bereavement support worker for her local hospice.

Mike Kenny

Mike KennyAssociate Director - Commercial

Mike Kenny joins the Innovation Agency having studied Genetics and Microbiology at Lancaster University, one of the Agency’s close academic and business partners. He joined us in March as a Commercial Programme Manager, having spent over 20 years in the Pharmaceutical industry in a variety of commercial, partnership and leadership roles in the North West and North East of England and Yorkshire.

Mike brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience of customer relationship management, and has a successful track record of partnership and collaboration with many of the NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning groups and Strategic Clinical Networks within our footprint.

Mike will use his relationship development and relationship management experience to great effect in the Innovation Agency as he works to bring technology, innovation, health and wealth into the Agency footprint via engagement with Industry, Pharmaceutical Companies, Local Enterprise Partnerships,  Innovation Hubs, NHS, Academia, Local Authorities and Small to Medium Enterprises.

Vince Hollender

 Project Administrator, ERDf projectsVince Hollender 

Project Administrator for our new ERDF funded projects, Vince Hollender, was formerly the ERDF Project Manager for the High Growth Centre at Thornton Science Park- working directly for the University of Chester’s Innovation & Development Directorate.

Vince has extensive experience in managing, monitoring and compliance with ERDF funding -having worked on various ERDF Programmes for Cheshire West and Chester Council since 2003. He also has experience in the regeneration, economic and business development fields.

Vince has managed EU Interreg co-operation projects, as well as having been the Cheshire Desk Officer for the European Chemical Regions Network in Brussels. He has also worked on secondment to Business Link on SME business support projects in Cheshire and Warrington

He is responsible for managing the administrative systems required for the new ERDF projects with emphasis on monitoring, compliance and audit.


 Andy Cairns

Andy CairnsProject Manager

Andy Cairns supports the Medicines Optimisation programme and the development of the Innovation Pathway and sharing best practice by the use of the Innovation Exchange.

Andy has previously worked in the public sector for Salford City Council and part of a shared service supporting both Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire East Council. Andy worked at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and led on the procurement and implementation of a PACS/RIS Picture Archiving and Communication System/Radiology Information System as part of a Greater Manchester consortium. He project managed the development of a mobile app for Community Nurses to record activity with patients using iPads.

Previous to this, Andy completed an Engineering degree B.Eng (Hons) at The University of Liverpool and then work in manufacturing, followed by spells with Nixdorf and Siemens supporting SME’s.

Juliette Kumar

Juliette KumarAssociate Director for Improvement and Education

Juliette is a former nurse, manager, independent facilitator, Executive Coach and Associate Lecturer at Lancaster University.  Juliette has a passion for people and for building positive workplace cultures, she has successfully led a wide variety of clinical and managerial improvement projects over her career and is currently working on developing a framework for skills and knowledge that can help the health and care system Put Innovation into Practice (PIP).  Juliette’s academic studies in Quality Improvement and evaluative research gives her an understanding the relationship between teams and patient experience, safety and efficiency.  Juliette is trained in psychological approaches to Coaching and has expertise in facilitation methods, Myers Briggs and Aston Team Development.  Juliette has a BSc (Hons) in Professional Nursing Practice, MSc Quality Improvement in Health Care and a PG Cert in Business & Executive Coaching.

Charlotte Hall

Charlotte HallEvents Manager

Charlotte’s role focuses on facilitating innovation and education through events, providing a platform for industry leaders, healthcare specialists and partners to collaborate and improve care.

Charlotte has a degree in Biomedical Science and previously worked for Diabetes UK, leading programmes that focused on education for people living with diabetes. She has a background as a facilitator as well as in events and project management. Charlotte has a passion for education and behavioural psychology; she is currently studying Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.


Alan Davies

 Director of Digital Health

  Alan leads on our strategy for digital health care, chairing our North West Coast digital expert        steering group whose members are drawn from the NHS global digital exemplars, universities and  other NHS organisations at the forefront of digital transformation.

 Alan has considerable commercial medtech expertise having held international roles as Director of    Home Healthcare for Philips Healthcare and Strategy Director for Tunstall Healthcare, as well as      local roles including as an executive board member at ATcare CIC an assistive technology incubator  spin off from NHS Innovations London.

As a former partner at PA Consulting for ten years and Director at PwC, Alan brings a wealth of experience of planning and managing strategic change.

Recently, he spent a year with Imperial Health College Partners, developing and rolling out an innovative atrial fibrillation care transformation programme across North West London. He is most proud of his North West Coast involvement while at Philips in leading the successful bid for the Lancashire and Cumbria Innovation Alliance test Bed and supporting the growth and success of the Liverpool More Independent remote care programme.