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The project is supported by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB)

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Meet our Programme Team

29 Jun
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Neil Ryan – Co-Innovate Programme Director (InterTradeIreland)

Neil is responsible for leading the development, implementation, delivery, and monitoring of the Co-Innovate Programme on behalf of the six programme partners. Neil has extensive experience of developing innovation strategies, managing operations, and leading product / process development activities having spent 17 years working for manufacturing companies within the private sector. Before joining InterTradeIreland, his previous role was as Technical Director of a Japanese owned multi-national business based in Northern Ireland. He holds a Hons degree in Mechanical Engineering and also a Master of Philosophy in Polymer Science and is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Management Institute. Neil has a black belt in judo and has recently come out of “retirement” after a 13 year break from the sport, although admits to 'feeling the aches a lot more than he did back in the day!'

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Carolyne Murphy - Co-Innovate Programme Manager (InterTradeIreland)

Carolyne joined the team as Co-Innovate Programme Manager in early 2017. Carolyne’s career commenced in banking and she has been working within Economic Development for 20 years, specifically focusing upon cross border SME collaborations and networks funded by EU Programmes such as Peace and INTERREG. Carolyne is a native of the border region between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and has a great understanding of the issues that affect businesses trading between the two jurisdictions. Carolyne loves to travel and has recently returned from Cuba.

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Esther Baird - Co-Innovate Programme Manager (InterTradeIreland)

Esther took up the role of Co-Innovate Programme Manager in March 2017. Her main role is to manage and deliver Strands 1 to 3 of the programme with a special focus on finance. Esther’s background is accountancy and she has over 25 years’ experience working with SMEs from preparation of their accounts to management consultancy. Esther has successfully managed and delivered numerous economic development programmes aimed at supporting both the business and academic communities to collaborate on a cross-border basis. Esther is married with two teenagers and loves life.

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Nicola Whyte, Co-Innovate Programme Executive (InterTradeIreland)

Nicola has worked with the Co-Innovate Team since July 2017. She is involved with all strands of the programme but will focus mainly on Strand 4 with Carolyne. Nicola has a background in marketing and training, working with SMEs in the private sector. She is also a part time lecturer in the business school of the Southern Regional College in Newry. Nicola is originally from Longford but has lived in Warrenpoint for the past 20 years with her husband Jay and puppy Memphis. Nicola enjoys travel, dinner parties, cooking for her friends and tasting wine from around the world.

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Carrie Gribben - Co-Innovate Programme Executive (InterTradeIreland)

Carrie joined the Co-Innovate team in March 2018 and her responsibilities include assisting the Programme Director and Managers on all aspects of programme delivery but with a special focus on finances. Carrie has over 16 years’ experience in successfully delivering and managing a wide-range of Science, Technology, R&D & Innovation Programmes aimed at supporting both the business and academic communities to collaborate on a cross-border basis. Apart from her husband and two children, Carrie’s biggest love in life is music. Anything but Irish Country music that is!

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Donald Murray - Co-Innovate Programme Manager with Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Donald is an Isle of Lewis native and is Co-Innovate Programme Manager for the Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Skye. His duties include client recruitment and liaison, presenting Strand 1 workshops, processing financial claims and is also a member of various panels and assessment boards. Donald worked in the IT and technology sector for over 12 years, including over 8 years in Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Dell EMC. He has degrees in Human Biology & Psychology (Bsc hons) and e-Business (Masters - Msc). Donald enjoys playing football and golf when possible. He is married with one daughter, Erin, aged 20 months and another due in late May. Donald climbed the Great Wall of China over 10 years ago!

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Abbé Cusack - Co-Innovate Programme Manager, Dumfries and Galloway (Scottish Enterprise)


Abbé is responsible for Management and Delivery of the Co-Innovate Programme in Dumfries and Galloway. With a MEng in Manufacturing Sciences and Engineering, a Diploma in Management and an MSc in Environmental Studies, Abbé has enjoyed a wide and varied career, from manufacturing tumble dryers and hostess trollies to cell culture media, a short spell in construction, regulating chicken farms and petrol stations, advising companies on electric vehicle technologies, energy efficiency, renewable technologies and waste reduction and management. With a passion for helping companies to successfully turn their ideas into an invoice, Abbé’s wide experience helps her to quickly understand a company's needs and identify the most appropriate support. She is an enthusiastic amateur musician, playing the viola in local orchestras, she loves good food and drink and is partial to some fair-weather walking!

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Fiona Fraser - Co-Innovate Innovation Programme Manager with Highlands and Islands Enterprise


Fiona Fraser is an innovation and business strategist. She has 20 years business and brand development experience working with SMEs and in energy, food and drink, tourism and heritage, textiles and fashion and renewables; governments; local and international development agencies; local communities and charities. She is passionate about innovation, internationalisation and ‘social business’, and has developed a reputation for delivering creative strategy and exciting international collaborations, as well as writing about Scottish luxury culture, marketing and international trade. Her own Scottish luxury brand, established from the Scottish Highlands, sold collections to international retailers such as Saks 5th Avenue in New York, and was featured in Vogue, Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Financial Times ‘How to Spend It’.

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Stacey Neville - Innovation Specialist, Scottish Enterprise

Stacey is our Innovation Specialist covering the Ayrshire area, she is responsible for delivering the new Co-Innovate programme in Ayrshire with the aim of encouraging more small and medium sized businesses to innovate and collaborate. Stacey’s experience includes working within Business Gateway for the last 7 years where she worked with small to medium size enterprises helping them with all their business needs whilst delivering a number of workshops including Marketing, Finance and Business Planning. She has a wide and varied background including several years within the hospitality industry and working within the family business who owned a textile manufacturing company where 90% of the sales were export. In her spare time (as well as raising her 2 young children), Stacey likes to box to keep fit, has a full motorcycle licence and has been diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa.




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