In this series, we talk with different Sussex Innovation team members about their interests, role, and the day-to-day support they can provide for members of our community. Today Catalyst team member, Busola chats with Claire Wingate, Sales and Community Manager. 

Tell me a bit about you and your role.

Hi, I’m Claire Wingate, and I am the Sales and Community Manager at Sussex Innovation. I focus on the members and tenants in our Falmer and Croydon centres. In my role as sales manager I have been promoting the programmes that we’ve been delivering with our funding partners. Now the bigger part of my role is community; understanding what support, insights and connections our members need and making sure that we help them access it.

What kind of issues and goals can you help our members solve?

I can help our members access support with issues like sales and marketing, management and leadership, recruitment. We are also going to be launching a funding and fundraising service that I will be able to help members out with.

We have a great research team who can provide hard evidence to support everything from our marketing and sales strategies to new product innovation, growth and change management. Many of our members need us because their sector is changing rapidly, they need to understand about technical advances and competition in their industry and they also need to engage with how customers and teammates think, feel and behave and adjust their business models to find new opportunities.

We cover a bit of everything, so I can point you in the right direction or to one of our partners that can help solve any issue you might have.  

What is a project you have enjoyed working on the most till date? 

That would have to be the Business Hothouse as we have made connections across the whole of Sussex and really made a difference to individuals who have struggled and have talked out these problems with our guidance amongst similar business owners. Others we have helped them think differently about how they are approaching a problem. Seeing the light bulb moment is wonderful.    

What is the number one challenge you hear frequently from clients, and what can be done about it?

All different. As every client will have a unique challenge that their business is facing it is hard to pinpoint a frequent challenge due to the diverse nature of business that we serve.      

What is your favourite innovation/ invention and why?  

The drill! Invented in 1889 by Arnot and Brain in Australia to drill rockfaces lead to the first portable handheld drill created by the Wilhem brothers in 1895 Germany but patented in 1917 by the famous Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker. This motor led to many other inventions like sanders, the portable nail file for my dog, kitchen equipment, dentistry and many more handheld devices in the modern power tool industry.  

Recommend a book you have recently read. 

Normal People, the heart-breaking book that inspired the series.  

Do you do much cooking and if so, do you have a favourite recipe?  

I used to cook everything from scratch when the children were young. Pasta, bread, cakes cookies etc and had chickens and ducks so fresh eggs, but now life is busy, kids eat out with friends, and I don’t always get the time. I still like to eat meals round the table and catch up on the day and what’s been happening with the children.   

Why do you do your job, what do you get out of it?  

I love speaking to people, hearing about their journey and being able to help them through the various bits and pieces of their business ecosystem. It has been very rewarding seeing the accomplishments that come from them.

Where will we find you on an ideal weekend?  

At home, I love travelling but I love being at home even more.

What is a unique hobby or talent you have? 

I have a very loud whistle; I can make awesome things out of cardboard with a staple and glue gun. I also do fencing!


Get to know Claire Wingate better by coming along to the first Community Catch-Up event on Tuesday 23rd May, from 8:30am – 10:00am. Our Community Catch-Up: Pop-Up Breakfast is an easy-going networking event to meet likeminded members of the Sussex Innovation Community