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Former Sage boss becomes chairman of Tech Nation

After five years as chair of Tech Nation, Eileen Burbidge has stepped down. Replacing her is Stephen Kelly, who says he wants to support the next generation of tech scaleups

Stephen Kelly, the former CEO of British accounting software firm Sage Group, has been appointed chairman of Tech Nation. Kelly succeeds Eileen Burbidge MBE, who has served as chair since 2015.

The UK entrepreneurial network has set itself a mission to unlock the growth potential of 1,000 scaling tech leadership teams across the UK by 2022.

“It has been an absolute privilege to have served as chair of Tech Nation as it has become a UK-wide network – and while the UK has established itself as one of the world’s leading tech hubs. I look forward to watching and cheering as Tech Nation continues to deliver on its ambitious strategy in coming years,” said Burbidge.

“Stephen’s experience both as a tech entrepreneur and scaling mentor will bring deep experience to the board, and I have no doubt that with his leadership alongside Gerard [Grech, CEO of Tech Nation] and the team, we will see tremendous impact from Tech Nation and sustained growth for the UK tech sector,” she added.

As chair of Tech Nation, Kelly’s role will involve supporting chief executive Gerard Grech as the entrepreneurial network continues to expand its growth programmes, events, data and knowledge resources to fuel the growth of the UK tech scaleup ecosystem. Tech Nation said it has already contributed up to £436m to the economy through its activities and programmes with scaleups and is on track to deliver £1bn by 2025.

“With Eileen’s inspirational leadership, Tech Nation scaled across the UK, enabling scaling founders and companies to access the skills and networks they need to drive growth in the UK’s tech ecosystem. We thank her for her passion, commitment and leadership. On a personal note, I have hugely appreciated her support and counsel,” said Grech.

“Tech is in my DNA, and I am hugely excited about applying the lessons I have learnt and my experience as a CEO, investor, director and mentor to help the next generation of UK scaleups”
Stephen Kelly, Tech Nation

“Building on that legacy, we warmly welcome Stephen Kelly as chair, and the team and I look forward to working with him. His outstanding credentials and extensive experience, both as a scaling entrepreneur and tech community champion of scaleups, will help us deliver even more, with greater impact, especially at this crucial time during Covid-19 when companies need support and leadership more than ever,” he added.     

Kelly previously led the turnaround of Sage Group and oversaw the transformation of FTSE tech company MicroFocus. He joins Tech Nation’s board, whose members are Lesley Eccles, co-founder of FanDuel and CEO at Relish; Tim Luke, vice-chairman, technology media and telecoms group at Barclays; David Richards, founder and CEO at WANdisco; Sarah Wood, author of Stepping Up and co-founder at Unruly; and CEO Grech, 

Kelly said: “I am thrilled to be working with Gerard Grech and the team at Tech Nation, in identifying and championing game-changing founders, leaders and scaling companies, fuelling their growth so they can positively transform society and create a stronger economy in the future. I have been so lucky to lead some amazing digital tech companies. Tech is in my DNA, and I am hugely excited about applying the lessons I have learnt and my experience as a CEO, investor, director and mentor to help the next generation of UK scaleups.” 

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