Our two stage judging process increases robustness, ensures credibility and enhances prestige for all those recognised for the Growth Investor Awards.

Open to any organisation involved in putting investment to work in UK SMEs, the Awards are judged on information supplied in an online entry form – with questions specific to each category.

Guided by an Advisory Board, Intelligent Partnership’s Research Team conducts an initial shortlist of all entries* to identify finalists – who are announced in July. Finalist entries in each category then go to a second round of judging by at least three people drawn from an independent panel of at least 35 judges** to provide a diverse mix of qualified perspectives. All of the judges’ scores are collated to determine the winner and to generate a personalised Feedback & Benchmarking Report – so all finalists receive insight on areas of improvement. The judges decision is final.


*Please note that all information supplied in your entry is completely confidential and will not be published or shared with third parties.
**To avoid any conflict of interest, sponsors are not invited to judge, entrants cannot be sponsors and sponsors cannot enter the awards.



The role of the Advisory Board is to offer guidance on the judging process to ensure the criteria recognises best practice and awards reflect key industry trends and developments. Bringing a mix of perspectives – and influence across all relevant segments of the SME investment, advisory and business community – the Advisory Board includes:



Innovative Finance



Angel Investor, Entrepreneur &
Non-executive Director
London Stock Exchange


Entrepreneur in Residence
UK Government


Risk Capital Partners


Enterprise Nation


Founding CEO
Egg & First Direct


Director General


Seven Hills



Drawn from within the alternative investment industry and wider business community, our panel of independent judges bring a range of perspectives to level the playing field, increase robustness and credibility, and enhance the prestige of each award presented.

The independent judging panel for 2018 is currently being compiled. Our judges include:

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Sarah Abrahams

Grant Thornton

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Sarah leads Grant Thornton’s national Growth Finance practice, providing advisory services for dynamic, growing businesses seeking up to £10million in equity or debt finance. In addition to her work at Grant Thornton, Sarah sits on the Membership Committee of the EIS Association, the UK trade body for the Enterprise Investment Scheme, and lectures at Cranfield University on Entrepreneurial Finance as part of its Executive MBA programme. In 2015, Sarah was commended as “Best Rising Star in EIS” at the EISA Awards at the House of Lords, and was a finalist for the 2017 Women in the City Awards.

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Toby Austin


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Toby Austin is co-founder and CEO at Beauhurst. The Beauhurst platform provides professionals with rich, curated data on UK startups and high-growth companies. Toby previously co-founded Transentia, a specialist IP commercialisation firm which was acquired in 2012. Toby holds an MA in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge.

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Iain Baillie

Asset Match

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Iain began his career at stockbroker’s Strauss Turnbull and Co and has been involved in UK and European Capital Markets for over 35 years as a trader of both equities and corporate bonds, culminating in heading European credit trading as a Managing Director of Salomon Brothers. Iain was also a founding director of LBDP, a successful agency broker in European credit.

From 2003 to 2007 Iain was CEO of MarketAxess Europe, the leading platform for electronic execution in the credit market. Before founding Asset Match Iain was Head of Fixed Income at Christopher Street Capital.

Aside from his role at Asset Match, Iain is a regular investor in early-stage businesses.

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John Barnett

Burges Salmon

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John has worked at Burges Salmon for over 20 years and is head of the firm’s private client services department.

He provides tax advice to a wide-range of high-net worth individuals and many leading banks and other financial institutions. He has a particular focus on entrepreneurial clients, many of whom are not domiciled in the UK or have business or other interests abroad.

John chaired the CIOT’s Capital Gains Tax sub-committee from 2006 to 2014 and since then has been a member of the CIOT’s governing Council. He was a member of the General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) panel that approved HMRC’s initial GAAR guidance.

He has led the CIOT’s response on a large number of capital tax policy discussions with HMRC and HM Treasury since 2006 including in particular the domicile changes since 2008 and the statutory residence test.

John has been named in eprivateclient’s 50 Most Influential every year since 2014.

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Azhic Basirov

Smith & Williamson

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Azhic has particular experience of capital markets, especially IPOs on AIM and listings on the Official List. He also has experience of M&A and fundraisings from private equity sources.

His clients come from a range of sectors, but he has a particular focus in the technology, resources (including Oil & Gas), leisure, property and investment funds sectors. Azhic acts for a number of companies listed on AIM and the Official List and is a frequent presenter on the issues surrounding publicly listed companies to both clients and the wider business community.

His previous experience includes strategy consulting with The LEK Partnership and corporate finance experience with Kleinwort Benson prior to joining Smith & Williamson. Azhic is Managing Director of Smith & Williamson Corporate Finance and leads its Capital Markets practice.

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Louise Beaumont

Vector Associates

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Louise Beaumont has over twenty years experience in growing companies – from initial spark, to operationalisation, results delivered, and value created. Having previously worked for organisations such as Siemens, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and Capgemini, Louise has focused on the UK’s fast growing alternative finance sector since 2010, including co-founding one of GLI’s investees. Louise has advised key UK government departments and units on FinTech and AltFin including; HM Treasury, British Business Bank, Government Office for Science, Cabinet Office, UK Trade & Industry, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, and Number 10 Downing Street’s Policy Unit.

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David Brookes


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David is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and has over 20 years’ experience in tax compliance and advisory work.David is the Head of Tax at BDO in Reading and leads BDO’s specialist team dealing with SEIS/ EIS / VCT, inheritance tax business property relief (BPR) and other tax efficient investments.

He has acted for both the fund promoters and the high net worth investors. He also acts for estates and deals with HMRC queries on inheritance tax BPR claims.

David writes the ‘Venture Capital Taxes’ book which covers EIS, VCT and CVS and also chapters in ‘Revenue Law – Principles and Practice’ and ‘Tax Planning’, all published by Bloomsbury Professional

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Russel Buckley

Spring Partners VC

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Elizabeth Budd

Pinsent Mansons

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Elizabeth Budd is a partner in the Financial Regulation and Investment Funds Team with extensive expertise advising asset managers, fund managers, depositaries, wealth managers, fund distributors including platforms, and insurance companies on the constantly shifting landscape in the UK and EU.

On the funds side she has established UCITS and AIFs structured as unit trusts, open ended investment companies and limited partnerships, on-shore and off-shore. She has also advised extensively on the distribution of fund and other products.

Elizabeth acts regularly on investment management agreements, custody arrangements and administration agreements for direct portfolios and fund mandates. She also advises on perimeter issues, applications for authorisation and variations of permission, as well as regulatory implications of employment and LLP disputes in authorised firms.

Until recently she was a member of the EIS Association’s Regulatory Committee was involved in the creation of the EIS Diploma, assisting in drafting the syllabus.

Legal 500 describes Elizabeth as respected as a leader in the fund management world and Chambers describes her as highly regarded in the investment fund community for expertise and reliable advice. She is the editor to Sweet & Maxwell’s Collective Investment Scheme: Law and Practice.

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Bella Caridade-Ferreira


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Bella has 17 years’ experience in the research and analysis of the UK, European and Asian asset management industries. She set up Fundscape in 2010. Before starting Fundscape, she worked for Lipper FMI as Global Head of Research and Publications and was the author of numerous publications and reports including the popular European and Asian Data Digests, the Fund Market Profile series of reports and the UK Platform guide.

Early in her career she worked in investment banking and a London-based consulting firm where she specialised in market entry strategies for retail and institutional asset managers. She has a master’s degree in International Business and is fluent in four languages.

Bella is particularly fussy about grammar and punctuation, and loves going to the theatre, disco dancing and pub quizzes.

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Reece Chowdhry

RLC Ventures

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Reece is founder & CEO of the award-winning VC firm RLC Ventures. RLC Ventures invests in seed-stage businesses within technology, Proptech, fintech and technology for social advancement. Reece has invested in 14 start-ups, become a board member of five companies.

Reece has been award top 5 Asian tech investor 2018 & is the youngest ever investor to be profiled in The Sunday Times and is a mentor to the Mayor of London’s Business Start-up Entrepreneur’s Programme London and Partners.

Reece also gives his time to the startup community by being a keynote speaker at reputable institutions such as Imperial College, Cass Business School, LSE and various conferences such as Startup Grind.


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Matthew Cushen

Worth Capital

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Matthew is co-founder of Worth Capital – finding and funding the brightest entrepreneurs with the smartest ideas. They run the Start-Up Series, a competition where each month an entrepreneurial receives £150,000 in SEIS funding, and where investors are able to back the winners through subscribing to an SEIS Fund. He started angel investing well before the generous current tax reliefs. Alongside finding and investing in start-ups, he helps the leaders of very large businesses, such as SABMiller and IKEA, to create new products, brands and experience and to instil a culture where innovation can thrive.

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Andy Davis

Alternative Funding Network

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Andy has a longstanding interest in the business finance market, previously as Editor of FT Weekend and more recently as a researcher, commentator and advisor on the game-changing developments unfolding in the SME funding market. In 2012 he published the first comprehensive research on the emergence of Alternative Funding Platforms in the UK.

The AFN provides a much needed forum for harnessing and sharing market intelligence and thought leadership on the issues that matter in SME finance.

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Hannah Dobson


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Hannah is a partner in KPMG Enterprise, focusing on owner managed and privately owned businesses. Hannah joined KPMG as a partner in September 2015 and co-leads the TMT (technology) team within Enterprise. Prior to joining, Hannah was a director for 5 years in the entrepreneurial team at PwC, and a latterly a partner for 7 years indirect tax team at Smith & Williamson LLP.

Whilst Hannah has 20 years’ experience advising entrepreneurial businesses on indirect tax issues (with a particular reference to cross-border transactions and technology businesses), her focus has always been working with technology businesses throughout their growth lifecycle. Hannah’s work with “tech” businesses commenced with the “dot.com” era towards the end of 2000, working on clients such as Lastminute.com, and seeing QXL Ricardo.com through its eventual IPO.
Hannah’s focus at KPMG is working with all “tech” businesses both at the early Stage (Series A funding and beyond), through to a future exit. Hannah coordinates the work streams at KPMG (tax, corporate finance, IT consulting etc) to grow a business and ensure it is in a robust position for any future exit. Hannah is also currently leading KPMG’s drive to coordinate early stage funding (Series A) between investors and “tech” investee clients.

The majority of Hannah’s clients at KPMG are very much “tech” businesses at various stages of their growth or exit lifecycle; and include Madbid.com, Smarkets.com, VE Interactive, Neyber Ltd etc.

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Nathan Elstub


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Nathan has been involved in venture capital and private equity investment in high growth businesses for almost 20 years and has successfully backed companies in a wide range of sectors and from start-up stage through to buy-outs.  Originally an engineer, Nathan is a Chartered Accountant and previously worked at Arthur Andersen, Barclays Private Equity and Social Finance.
Nathan is also an advisory board member and founder mentor of Emerge Education, a leading ed-tech accelerator, on the investment committee of the Shared Lives impact investment fund, an active business angel and non-executive director of a number of businesses.

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Alex Evans

The Supper Club

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Alex Evans is Programme Director at Prelude Group, whose purpose is to inspire an entrepreneurial mindset in all leaders, and is responsible for developing thought leadership projects and associated partnerships. Prelude is home to The Supper Club, an exclusive community for founders and CEOs of innovative, high growth businesses above £1m turnover. The average sales among members of the Club is £17m and the average growth is 34%. The Supper Club supports members at every stage of their journey, from scale to exit and beyond, adapting to their evolving needs. By applying their understanding of entrepreneurs, Prelude also helps directors in all organisations to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset to drive innovation and growth.

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Tim Farazmand


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Tim joined LDC in 2005.

He has spent over 20 years in private equity with 3i, Royal Bank of Scotland and Catalyst Fund Management.  Prior to joining 3i Tim worked for IBM.

Tim has completed a number of significant transactions including GVA and Mama & Co.

In April 2014, Tim became Chairman for The British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA).

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Andrew Gaule


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Throughout Andrew’s career he has been implementing technology and business change with global corporate venture units, advising on spin outs, investments and partnerships.

Andrew has been the founder and leader of a number of businesses in tech change, corporate venturing, new online travel products and new retail propositions. He has worked and travelled extensively in China and USA, as well as being based in Europe.

Andrew’s latest book is ‘Purpose to Performance – Innovative New Value Chains’. Testimonials and reviews of the book from board members of leading global organisations are on Amazon.

Andrew is also an early stage investor in a number of tech start ups and a founding member of Henley Business Angels. Andrew has an economics degree from St John’s College, Cambridge, CIMA and MBA. He is visiting fellow and Chair of the Business and Technology SIG at Henley Business School.

Andrew is a husband and proud dad of two daughters.

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Jane Gomez

The Supper Club

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Jane Gomez is Director of Prelude Group, whose mission is to help make Britain the most enterprising nation in the world. Prelude is home to The Supper Club, a membership club exclusively for fast-growth entrepreneurs and The Directors Club, offering peer learning and strategic development for directors. Jane has chaired hundreds of events and discussions, giving her an unparalleled insight into entrepreneurial sentiment in the UK and the challenges facing business leaders and their teams. As the strategic leader of the business, Jane works closely with both members and partners to develop greater value within Prelude’s services.

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Chris Hannant


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Chris joined APFA in January 2012 as Policy Director and was appointed as Director

General in June 2013. Chris joined PIMFA when APFA and WMA merged to assist for the

transition of combining the organisations. Chris has 20 years’ experience on public policy

and working with government on a range of business and financial services issues. Chris

started his career working in the, then, Department for Trade and Industry and HM Treasury.

In 2003, he joined the ABI working on regulation and distribution of general insurance and

financial crime. Most recently he has been Policy Director at the British Chambers of

Commerce and Head of Representation at the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

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Philip Hare

Philip Hare & Associates

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Philip Hare is a co founder of Philip Hare & Associates LLP, a tax consultancy business which specialises in the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), Seed EIS, Venture Capital Trust (VCT) and Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR). He and his team advise small and medium sized companies and their investors in respect of the tax relief available for investment and the conditions that need to be met by the company and the investor. They are in regular contact with specialists at HMRC discussing solutions to technical and administrative issues that arise from the schemes.

Philip is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Advisor. He was a senior tax manager at PwC for 15 years. From 2006 to 2014, he led the team at PwC supplying services to VCTs, EIS and SEIS companies and their investors. EIS Association members voted his team the EIS Tax Advisor of the year for each of the last eight years.

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Victor Hawrych

Edwin Coe

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Victor Hawrych is a senior partner at Edwin Coe LLP law firm. Victor specialises instructuring and setting up of funds and advises many investment funds on their financial services regulatory matters as well as on their investments. His firm is regularly winner or runner up of Best EIS Legal Adviser.

Victor has acted for brokers and growing companies seeking venture capital, as well as publicly traded companies on their admissions and subsequent corporate transactions. He is experienced in handling public and private company acquisitions and disposals and has acted in many capital market transactions.

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Paul Herman

Bluebox Corporate Finance Limited

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Paul is the founder of Bluebox Corporate Finance. He is a chartered accountant with a wealth of
experience in both selling private companies and preparing them for sale. He has sold over 70
private businesses for values ranging between £2m and £200m across a range of sectors including a
number of well-respected UK businesses such as Models Own, Gü, Princess Yachts, Mappin & Webb,
Smythson, Watches of Switzerland, TXM Plant and The British Retail Consortium.
Paul originally qualified as a Chartered Accountant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) where he
specialised in Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) and private company valuations. In 1998 he moved
into private equity with an award winning London-based team before joining a corporate finance
boutique in London where he was promoted, over a 13 year period, to become one of the Senior
In 2012, James Caan, backed Paul to start Bluebox Corporate Finance, having experienced first hand
the value that he helped create for two of his own private disposals. Since then, Paul has successfully
grown the business to a team of 20 people and Bluebox have completed numerous high profile
Paul also sits on the board of Pilltime.com, a revolutionary new pharmacy disruptor that enables
Patients to received their medication delivered to their home in pre-sorted, easy to open pouches.

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Stephen Herring

Institute of Directors

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Stephen is Head of Taxation in the Institute of Directors’ Policy Unit. He graduated from Manchester University with an honours degree in Economics & Politics. He is a member of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Taxation. Stephen has specialised in taxation for over thirty years and, before joining the IoD in September 2013, he was a partner in three global accounting firms (Grant Thornton, Ernst & Young and BDO) for a total of twenty-eight years. He was appointed by the Exchequer Secretary as one of the (then) eight independent members of HM Treasury’s Tax Professionals Forum. He often speaks on taxation and related matters at conferences and regularly appears in both the national and tax technical press and on the broadcast media. He is a strong supporter of tax simplification and reduced tax rates for both businesses and individuals and believes that it is imperative that the misconceptions about tax planning which are regularly asserted by anti-business lobbyists are aggressively refuted.

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Stephanie Hussels

Cranfield School of Management

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Stephanie is a Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Cranfield School of Management. As part of her role she is the Director of the full-time MBA course and Co-Director of the Business Growth & Development Programme (BGP), the longest established owner-manager programme in the UK. Stephanie has a passion for early stage and growth companies.  Besides working with entrepreneurs, Stephanie cooperates with charities and firms on how to encourage and implement intrapreneurship. Her current research focuses on entrepreneurial resilience and business survival. Stephanie has written several prize winning case studies and is now frequently asked to give talks about case study writing and teaching.

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Scott Knight


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Scott is the Head of Audit and Assurance at BDO and also a member of the firm’s Leadership Team and their Risk Committee. As well as leading the audit and assurance practice nationally, he specialises in the Natural Resources sector, acting for more than thirty AIM and fully listed companies both in the UK and internationally. Scott has considerable experience in advising fast growing clients from both the London and New York offices of BDO. He is a ‘hands on partner’ who recognises the need to develop a full understanding of his clients businesses in order to provide practical, commercial advice that is tailored to their needs.

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Brendan Llewellyn

Adviser Home

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Financial Services strategic and marketing professional consultant with over 30 years senior experience.
50% corporate management and 50% in consultancy, non executive and interim director roles.

Helps businesses – providers and advisers- achieve optimum marketing integration in line with strategic goals. Interest in the relationship between strategy and communications.

Through Adviser Home, helping adviser practices create clear marketing differentiation and run their businesses more effectively.

Armchair Critic – columnist for Incisive Media – on www.ifaonline.co.uk and in Professional Adviser.
Chairman of Judges – Investment Marketing and Innovation Awards

Specialties: Financial services proposition development, brand creation and management, new company development and launch, distribution strategies and implementation, creative innovation, copywriting and management of virtual agencies.

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Louise Mountford


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Louise is part of PwC’s Venture Capital tax team. She builds relationships with companies and funds looking for SEIS and EIS investment. Louise works closely with these companies to help them understand the complexities surrounding the tax legislation and provides support from dealing with HMRC to advising on transactions to ensure the qualifying criteria is met and maintained

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Kavita Patel

SGH Martineau

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Kavita specialises in private equity and corporate finance transactions including the establishment of investment funds, public and private fund raising, venture capital and private equity investments, takeover, mergers and reconstructions. She is a renowned structuring specialist, particularly in relation to the venture capital schemes. Kavita is well known in the world of corporate finance law. Described by Chambers & Partners as a ‘client favourite’ and the ‘rainmaker of the team’. Kavita also sits on the EIS Association Regulatory Committee and the AIC VCT Technical Committee.

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Paul Richardson

The Share Centre

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After a first career as a RAF Regiment officer, Paul has had over 17 years’ experience in numerous roles within the sector primarily in the marketing and sales of financial products.  This has included being an equity broker with Redmayne Bentley, a banker with RBS, through to being the Divisional Sales & Marketing Head for an investment house in the City where he was responsible for their monthly magazine that not only covered the FTSE but also fledgling British companies. He has also been the Chairman of a London Chamber of Commerce whose membership was mainly SMEs and where he assisted these companies to grow and develop. In his latest role at The Share Centre as Head of Corporate Sales & Relationships he is responsible for the Department that provides the administration and custodial services to an ever growing number of SEIS, EIS, Investor Relief & BPR fund managers. Furthermore, he is a contributor of articles to magazines & websites on the Alternative Investment sector.

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Stephen Smith


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Stephen is a tax partner specialising in advising privately owned and PE backed businesses. He also leads our national Venture Capital taxes business.

Steve has been with PwC for over 20 years and recently returned to the Midlands after two years in Belfast and the last four years in London.

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Ruby McGregor Smith


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Ruby McGregor-Smith (Baroness McGregor-Smith CBE) is the Chief Executive of Mitie Group plc, the strategic outsourcing company. She joined Mitie in 2002 and was appointed as CEO in 2007. She is one of a small number of women holding the position of Chief Executive in the FTSE 250 or FTSE 100 and is the first Asian woman to be appointed in such a role within that group of companies. Since joining, she has seen Mitie grow its revenue from £0.5bn to over £2.0bn, continuing its track record of profit and revenue growth.
In 2015 she was appointed a Life Peer in the House of Lords. She is also Senior Non-Independent Director of the Board of Page Group plc. In 2016 she was appointed by Business Secretary Sajid Javid, to lead a review looking at the issues faced by businesses in developing black and minority ethnic (BME) talent from when they start work through to executive level. She also chaired the Women’s Business Council, a working group that seeks to maximise women’s contribution to economic growth, from 2012 to 2016 and remains a member of the Council.

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Emanuela Vartolomei

All Street

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Emma is the founder and CEO of All Street. An economist by trade, Emma is dedicated to enabling everyone to get involved in the new financial system that crowdfunding is creating. She brings significant experience in financial services across corporate banking and asset management, an MBA degree from Oxford University and two Masters of Science. She believes in the power of shared knowledge to transform the alternative finance space. Emma’s a whizz at finance and a fan of plain talking. She’s the brains, brawn and buoyancy behind All Street.

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Simon Webber

Thomson Taraz

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Simon is responsible for the strategic direction and management of Thompson Taraz Managers, supporting real estate and venture capital fund managers, as well as business angel networks, through fund support services including consultancy, outsourced fund management and fund administration. Simon has been a Director or Board Adviser to a number of high-profile, multi-national fund management and funds services businesses.

As well as fund management, he has been involved in smaller company development, fundraising and corporate finance for more than fifteen years. He also has particular expertise in strategic compliance and risk matters and sits on the Institutional Committee of the Association of Professional Compliance Consultants. Simon has twice acted as a ‘Skilled Person’ appointed to prepare reports for the UK regulator.

Simon’s sector knowledge, clarity and perception allows Thompson Taraz’s clients to concentrate on what they do best, secure in the knowledge that they have considered and expert support to call on as needed.

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Rhodri Whitlock

Crowe Clark Whitehill

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Rhodri is a corporate partner based in Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP’s London office. He leads our funds practice and can draw on over 20 years’ experience auditing and advising investment funds, private equity and corporates both in the UK and abroad.
Prior to joining Crowe, Rhodri was a lead audit partner on the audit of listed and private investment funds at a top 10 firm and was responsible for the audit of funds including VCTs with gross assets under management in excess of £1.5bn, across a range of asset classes including real estate, healthcare, tech and renewable energy.
Rhodri is a member of the AIC VCT Technical Sub-committee and he has hosted a number of workshops covering a range of subjects topical to the investment funds sector ranging from financial reporting, governance and valuations.
Rhodri is a member of our national valuations team and has worked extensively with the IPEV Guidelines.

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John Young

Edwin Coe LLP

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John specialises in corporate law, focusing primarily on the business needs of entrepreneurs, SMEs and family businesses. He has particular expertise in advising on investments into businesses, the sale and purchase of businesses, joint ventures, and shareholders agreements both in the UK and internationally.

John also has specialisms in partnership matters, including limited liability partnerships and limited partnerships with a particular emphasis on property investment and the fund management sector, and in advising on shareholder and partnership disputes.

John acts as a trusted advisor to his clients, and has demonstrated a broad business perspective and the ability to quickly grasp and deal with complex issues, which is highly valued by his clients. He also has experience advising companies seeking to qualify under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), as well as advising companies listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange, AIM and Nex.