The KickStart External Judging Panel is made up of industry experts.

Paul Devlin

Investment Manager Scotland, Mercia

Paul heads up the Mercia's Edinburgh office, focusing on investments across Scotland, from £100k to £6m.

Prior to joining Mercia, Paul led the Launch.ed student company formation programme at Edinburgh Research and Innovation, advising, mentoring and investing in student startups from University of Edinburgh. Paul previously held senior positions with New Media Partners and Scottish Enterprise, working on commercialisation of large scale research projects.

Following on from post graduate research work, Paul co-founded a successful university spin-out company, securing substantial investment from 3i and SEP. Paul has a BEng (Hons) in Computer and Electronic Systems from Strathclyde University and is completing his dissertation for an MBA at the Strathclyde Graduate School of Business. He holds patents in the fields of sensor networks, media streaming and video compression.

Eleanore Irvine

US Business Development Manager, Fios Genomics

Eleanore is a PhD-trained chemist, with experience in product commercialisation and business start-up mechanisms. Previously co-founder and business development manager of Biogelx Ltd, a top ten Converge Challenge Company (2012), having played an integral role in progressing university research through to company spin out, product launch and now growing global sales. A Saltire and Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Enterprise fellow with an extensive network in the life science and business community. Passionate about bringing new innovative technologies to market, Eleanore is now US business development manager for Fios Genomics, a fast growing bioinformatics service provider.


Laura Goodfellow

Head of Business Engagement, Interface

Laura Goodfellow has been supporting business and academic partnerships since 2005 introducing thousands of businesses to Scottish universities and research institutions to develop products, processes and services.

In 2014 Laura took the position of Head of Business Engagement at Interface and she now leads a Scotland wide team who are engaging with business and impartially matching and connecting them to world class academics, unique technologies and specialist facilities, within all of Scotland’s universities and research facilities.

Facilitation's through the Interface team currently contribute £80m GVA per year to the Scottish economy and support over 2,300 jobs.

Paula Ritchie

Regional Head of Business Development, Royal Bank of Scotland

Paula heads up business development for The Royal Bank of Scotland’s Business Bank. She supports a team of Business Growth Enablers that provide expertise, run events and connect businesses with the right partners to help them achieve their ambitions. 

Paula has worked within the Bank for over 12 years through a variety of roles including relationship management (in Corporate Banking, SME Banking and Property Finance) and designing and implementing Strategic Propositions to support sectoral offerings for the Bank.