Throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Sussex Innovation has been hosting weekly ‘Survive & Thrive’ webinars in collaboration with Gatwick Diamond Business, highlighting and debating the key issues that are affecting businesses during this challenging period. Collected below are some of the key insights from each panel session, as well as the full video of each webinar.

Crisis management – what to do and where to start (8th April)

Our Chief Executive Nigel Lambe was joined by Peter Davies (founder and CEO at Airline Management Group), Gary Fee (international finance director at Bright Horizons) and Tim Cobb (founder and managing director at Cobb PR) for a far-reaching discussion of how business owners can respond effectively in a crisis – from the value of actively listening to your team and your customers, to taking the time to pause, step back and think about what action you should take next.

Peter shared his experiences of managing an airline through another global crisis, in the aftermath of 9/11, making executive decisions while remaining keenly aware of employee morale. Gary stressed the importance of recognising that the whole world is going through similar upheaval and keeping the delicate balance between protecting your cash flow and being sensitive to your clients. and Tim gave advice about the value of strong internal communication, ensuring that your team is kept apprised of your plans.

Watch the full webinar below – due to technical difficulties, the opening 10 minutes were unfortunately not recorded.

Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing (22nd April)

Croydon Centre Manager, Saffron Saunders was joined by Ian Braid (Managing Director of DOCIASport), Maria Paviour (Chief Occupational NeuroPsychologist and Managing Director of the Maria Paviour company) and Esther Thomas (founder of Thrive and Well), who shared their experiences and knowledge about the importance of mental wellbeing during the pandemic, with valuable insights and tips for attendees to implement into their daily routine.

Ian shared his personal story of recovery from a diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder, stress and depression, and the key learnings he’s applying to how people can nurture their mental wellbeing during the crisis. Maria looked at occupational psychology through the lens of biology and how making a change with our body can help foster a change in our mind. From getting quick dopamine hits by dancing on the spot to grounding the body to calm yourself down, Maria’s BENDs (Brief Emotional Non-Verbal Displays) are designed as quick exercises to get us thinking differently. Esther talked about the impact of good nutrition on our emotional state and preparing your body to fight viruses; she emphasised the importance of vitamin D and B12 to protect our immune system, and including healthy fats in your diet to support brain structure and health.

Watch the full webinar below.

Making and Maintaining Sales (29th April)

Innovation Advisor and Student Enterprise Manager, Simon Chuter interviewed Mo Kanjilal of virtual Sales Director service Kiss The Fish about their views of selling best practice and whether they have changed in light of the current situation. Both agreed that it is still appropriate to sell during this time, but only if you adapt your approach and offer your customers real help.

Mo stressed the importance of having a proposition that feels relevant, communicating with empathy and a message that your sales team can rally behind. She also identified the value of understanding how your business is going to change, using this time to do your research into your customers and develop proactive strategies, rather than simply reacting.

Watch the full webinar below.

How to Apply for Grants (6th May)

Our in-house grant and investment readiness expert, David Porter hosted a panel of two grant providers and one successful applicant to discuss the ins and outs of applying for funding. Peter Wilkins from the UK Defence & Security Accelerator advised applicants not to bombard the assessors with technical language – just give a straightforward explanation of what you’re trying to do, with clarity on the impact your R&D will have, and due appreciation of the risks that are involved in any innovative project. David Parry of the South East Health Technologies Alliance talked about the importance of doing your research and finding an appropriate fund for your ‘technology readiness level’.

Finally, Gary Kendall, founder of Sussex Innovation members CDO2, shared his experiences of making successful bids to Innovate UK in partnership with researchers from the University of Sussex. Gary stressed the importance of his relationship with academia, and letting both sides play their part in the application – “Universities live off grant funding and speak the right language…my role was to supplement that knowhow with commercial logic”. Ultimately, the key takeaway from the whole panel was to avoid forcing your own message and to directly answer the assessor’s questions.

Watch the full webinar below.

Furloughvation! (13th May)

Head of Sales and Marketing, Helena Jevons and our panel took a look at one of the silver linings of being furloughed – the opportunity to work on a side hustle. HR Consultant and founder of Inside Advantage, Monica Beckles started by providing an overview of the furlough scheme and what employees are able to work on under its terms. Our Insight and Market Research Advisor, Anne-Fay Townsend, examined the emerging trends of homeworking – analysts are expecting to see a period of innovation and disruption comparable to the aftermath of World War II. Both Anne-Fay and Monica praised businesses empowering their staff to take training courses, volunteer or learn a new craft while unable to work; the source of a massive surge in creative and social projects.

Raise Bakery founder Jeremy Jacobs then shared his experience of launching not one, but two businesses during periods of unprecedented global crisis. His key takeaway is that, when there’s nothing to lose and plenty of free time, it can be a great motivator to try something you’ve always wanted to do.

Watch the full webinar below.

Mental Health Awareness Week (20th May)

By popular demand, our three guests from week 3’s webinar returned to offer more insights and suggestions for maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing, this time focused on Mental Health Awareness Week and its theme of kindness.

Watch the full webinar below.

Building your social media presence (27th May)

PR and Communications Advisor, Joseph Bradfield was joined by Phil Hawkins of Colour Me Social, Susi Doherty of Vervate, and our own Laurence Grant to talk about the ins and outs of marketing your business on social media.

The panel looked at examples of businesses using social to respond to the Covid-19 crisis in a variety of ways – Phil emphasised the value of using social channels for dialogue and community building, especially in times of crisis, while Susi stressed the value of strong visual content to tell stories more effectively. Laurence shared his ‘friendly’ tips for networking successfully through platforms such as LinkedIn.

Watch the full webinar below.

Leading during uncertain times (3rd June)

Matthew Bellringer of innovation consultancy Meaningbit led a session focusing on leadership and the skills needed to manage teams through periods of instability and change.

Matthew’s focus on the psychology of change management took in examples of how businesses can implement new technologies, connect their people and improve their processes in the most effective way.

Watch the full webinar below.

Lessons learned from the great homeworking experiment (10th June)

With UK schools closed for three months, most working parents were left with the huge challenge of working from home with kids. For many, an unplanned move to remote working would be difficult enough without the additional burden of home schooling and needing to multi-task.

Falmer Community Manager, Daisy Wood and Insight & Market Research Advisor, Anne-Fay Townsend, were joined by Monica Beckles, founder of HR consultancy Inside Advantage, and Claire Scaramanga, MD of marketing and creative agency Scaramanga. The panel discussed the impact of mass and sudden home-working on households and on women in particular, sharing remote working lessons, tips and strategies for businesses to support flexible work practices.

Watch the full webinar below.

Innovation for survival (17th June)

Innovation Advisor and Student Enterprise Manager, Simon Chuter was joined by a panel of three Sussex Innovation members who have developed new technologies, products and services in response to the pandemic.

Will Golder, director of event registration and fundraising platform Race Nation, spoke of the difficulties managing mass participation sporting events and the new requirements they are serving for race organisers in order to maintain health and safety. Chris Giddins, founder of promotion engine Uniqodo, told the story of a new community voucher scheme that his team developed to support local retailers and hospitality businesses. Finally, Mustafa Khraishi, co-founder of biotech company Adaptive Diagnostics, shared his experience of developing a new rapid diagnostic test for the virus.

Watch the full webinar below.

Crowdfunding (24th June)

With more and more businesses exploring the potential of crowdfunding to raise investment and launch new products, PR and Communications Advisor, Joseph Bradfield, discussed the various options and opportunities with a panel of experts.

Crowdfunding expert and founder of Crowdfund360, Jes Bailey answered questions on how to run a successful campaign, which situations lend themselves to crowdfunding and the particular challenges of raising money during a time of crisis. Anna Sward, founder of health food brand Protein Pow, and Daniel Sell, founder of games publisher Melsonian Arts Council, then shared their very different perspectives of crowdfunding as a fundraising and marketing tool for their businesses.

Watch the full webinar below.

Starting a business during a recession

Whether you’re sitting on the perfectly polished launch or you’re more of a trial and error entrepreneur one thing is for certain, it’s tough during a recession. The UK economy dropped 20.4% during the pandemic making lunching a business that bit riskier, listen to our panel of experts as they coach you through this high stakes playing field.

Darren Hickman, MD of customer screening solutions provider ComplianceAssist goes into the reasons why you might set up yourself and the importance of work-life balance and moving from working within large companies to going it alone.

Vicki Hughes, Founder of PR and communications agency Fugu PR tells of how she made her own way to the top of her company and speaks to the importance of networking.

Watch the full webinar below:

Appy Business

This instalment, Sussex Innovation’s Falmer Community Manager Daisy Wood hosts a panel discussion about app development. The session is aimed at business owners who are considering building an app to boost their business. We hear from app development expert and Founder of Hare Digital Chris O’Hare who gives us the lowdown on the development process and key considerations to be made.

He is joined by 3 founders who are at different stages of the app development process:

Peter Osborne from Utu – the “fit bit for climate change”

Antoinette Daniel from ethical cleaning agency Just Helpers

Ola Oladapo from commission-free ridesharing platform Dash

Watch the full webinar here:

Data Storytelling

For this session, led by Sussex Innovation’s PR & Comms Advisor Joseph Bradfield, we explore the art of data storytelling and how it can be used to aid brand positioning. Joseph is joined by Sam Knowles, Founder and MD of corporate and brand storytellers Insight Agents and Ian Jenkins, Global Head of Strategy, Insight and Intelligence at 4media Group.

Sam and Ian have worked together on a number of projects leveraging data for storytelling. They are also joined by Founder of Significance Systems and data visualisation expert Darrell Berry who offers an alternative viewpoint of how data can be used.

Watch the full webinar here:

Diverse teams

It’s well known that having a diverse workforce is beneficial to businesses; this is illustrated by the statistics that ethnically diverse companies are 33% more likely to have higher profits and that there is 19% higher innovation in companies with greater diversity. However, many companies struggle to be truly diverse.

Sussex Innovation Croydon’s Centre Manager Saffron Saunders is joined by Monica Beckles from Inside Advantage and Kyra Hall-Gelly from Neurotribe UK. They discuss the difference between diversity and inclusion, the importance of having the right processes and support available for all employees and how to increase diversity when recruiting.

Monica Beckles – Monica is an HR consultant and Founder of Inside Advantage. She is qualified in business, employment law and workplace mediation and has over 25 years’ corporate leadership experience. Monica appreciates the critical importance of people management to business success and is known for her ability to embed a culture of performance management while improving employee relations and quality of service.

Kyra Hall-Gelly – Kyra is a BACP registered therapist with special interests in addiction recovery and neurodiversity (dyslexia, ADHD and Autism). She runs two therapy clinics and delivers group and individual therapy in schools, colleges, workplaces and online. Kyra also delivers engaging and creative training & advice to businesses and leadership teams in related issues such as Disability Inclusion, Mental Health and Wellbeing in work and education, Safeguarding Children and Adults, Suicide Prevention, and Ethical Decision-Making.

Watch the full webinar here:

Female founders

For this edition of Survive & Thrive we’re in conversation with some of the inspiring female founders from our network. We discuss how they’ve coped with lockdown and their plans and hopes for the future.

The panel includes: Anya Ledwith, Founder of environmental management consultancy Eschcon. Anya has over 20 years of leadership experience and is Chair of both Gatwick Diamond Business and BSI Committee on Environmental Management System Standards. She shares the different ways of working she’s adopted during lockdown.

Daniela Carl, Deputy Chief Executive of charity the Regional Studies Association. Daniela has worked for RSA for 7 years alongside Chief Executive Sally Hardy. Daniela discusses the impact that Covid has had on RSA and how they’ve pivoted to survive.

Oanh Brophy, Founder of a Circular Economy Start-up. Oanh is new to our female founder’s network and to entrepreneurship. She runs an early-stage start-up which aims to eliminate single-use food containers. Oanh tells us all about her concept and how she’s found the journey so far.

Workspace next

As people have gradually started making the move from working from home to returning to the workplace, workspaces have had to adapt to fit the needs of their users. Being covid-secure is a prerequisite of any workspace in this “new normal” and a number of changes have been made over the past few months to all places of work; but what’s the next normal? It’s hard to predict but flexibility will be key.

During this session, we’ll be discussing some of the changes that we’ve made to our membership offering at Sussex Innovation in order to be more flexible in these uncertain times and looking at some of the office space innovations that have been developed during lockdown. Joining the discussion is Mark Burletson, Owner of ergonomic workspace design company Human Workspace. Mark talks about how factories and labs are adapting for the post lockdown world.

Watch the full webinar here:

The psychology of branding

How protect your business growth today and tomorrow by creating a brand your ideal customer will love. Start attracting your ideal clients now while building a brand that inspires loyalty. Sussex Innovation Centre’s Head of Sales and Marketing, Helena Jevons is joined by Jane Guest, the CEO of Adaray Marketing.

In this edition we explore how psychology can be used to create brands that ‘act as best friends’ delivering high growth in both the short and long term. Jane founded Adaray Marketing in 2018 with clear purpose and vision, helping creating success stories for SMEs, the community and individuals by being the catalyst for positive change. With over 20 years’ experience in senior level blue-chip marketing – working for global brands such as Conde Nast, The Body Shop and Tchibo – Jane’s background in cognitive psychology and computing science, supported by an award-winning career in its practical application, enables her to support SMEs develop their brand through a unique PsychTech lens.

Watch the full webinar here:

Creative thinking for remote teams

Although many businesses are making the move back to the office, there are still very many teams who are working remotely or working with a blend of office and home working. This webinar explores how to foster creative thinking amongst virtual teams, you’ll gain practical tips on how to boost your team’s creativity.

For this session, Sussex Innovation is joined by Hannah Luffman and Simon Baird from creative brand experience agency Cheerful Twentyfirst. Cheerful Twentyfirst have been game-changers since 1985, their multi-disciplinary approach and universal understanding of audience behaviours results in impactful experiences that move the needle for their clients.

Watch the full webinar here:

Sustainable futures

We’ve all seen and heard about the positive impact that lockdown has had on the environment. For many of us it has given us pause for thought about how we can maintain and build upon these sustainable behaviours as we move towards the “next normal”, but what does this mean for businesses? This webinar explores how small businesses can seek to reduce their environmental impact, and the benefits of doing so.

The panel includes: Daren Howarth, CEO of C-Level – With some 30 years in consultancy, at the edge of change. Anya Ledwith, Founder of environmental management consultancy Eschcon. Anya has over 20 years of leadership experience and is Chair of both Gatwick Diamond Business and BSI Committee on Environmental Management System Standards. Steve Creed, Director of Creed Management Solutions, a company that helps organisations and individuals address the challenges of creating a sustainable world through coaching, mentoring, and consultancy.

Watch the full webinar here:

Podcast like a pro

Learn how to podcast like a pro with this webinar led by Anna Rewinska and Omar Juman, Co-founders of Blue Drop Studio. Blue Drop Studio is a digital marketing and creative content agency based in London. Anna and Omar explain how running a podcast can boost your brand and share top tips for podcast production that they’ve picked up along their journey of hosting their Digital Spaceship podcast.

Watch the full webinar here:

Growing your business with the University of Sussex

The University of Sussex is a leading research university with 75% of its research being classified as world-leading or internationally excellent (2014 REF). How can businesses tap into this hub of knowledge, research and innovation and what are the benefits of doing so?

This session explores how working with universities can support the growth of your business and includes insights from experts including: Kate Thorpe, Deputy Head of Business Engagement, University of Sussex. Gary Kendall, Founder of CD02. Ian Sillett, Innovations Partnership Manager, DISCUS (Data-Intensive Science Centre at the University of Sussex).

Watch the full webinar here:

Discovering young talent

In these unprecedented times, it has become more important than ever to operate a dynamic and capable team, what better way to create such a team than working with graduates and young people. This session we dive into the possibilities young talent brings and how you can find employees that are right for you.

Hear from our expert panel: Simon Chuter: Innovation Adviser & Student Enterprise Manager Simon oversees the Catalyst Team and student enterprise at Sussex Innovation. His expertise and commitment to social impact has seen him work in the fundraising sector for over a decade. Andrea Wall: Employer Engagement Manager at the University of Sussex Andrea manages employer engagement for the Careers & Employability Centre (CEC) at the University of Sussex. Philip Perryman: Employment Partnerships Director at Creative Process Digital Helping companies hire a digital apprentice, bringing innovative, dynamic ideas to your business and growing your digital capability whilst providing opportunities for the next generation.

Watch the full webinar here:

Mental health and wellbeing

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about many challenges for businesses, not least of these being the increased stress and mental strain on employees and employers alike. In this webinar, we look at how to best manage these pressures and help mitigate the effects. Hear from our expert panel:

Mark Arneill: Head of Customer Success at People Matter Technology, combining the latest in psychology and technology to develop innovative wellness solutions. Ian Braid: Founder and MD of DOCIAsport Ltd Ian combines his passion for sport with insight and experience in the independent company DOCIAsport he founded three years ago. Jenny Tschiesche: Bestselling Author and Founder of Lunchbox Doctor A nutrition expert educating those in the workplace, those working with children and teenagers, and sportspeople to reach their performance and health goals.

Watch the full webinar here:

Brexit, Where are we now?

With all that is going on in the world, it is easy to feel like nothing is set or certain but this is not the case, on the 31st of December the UK will be out on its own.

In this webinar, we look at how best to prepare for and benefit from Brexit. Our panel of experts: Jane Smith: Solicitor at Moore Law, Specialising in all areas of Employment Law using her extensive legal professional experience of over 15 years to offer practical commercial solutions to clients which adds real value to their business. Peter Holmes: Director of InterAnalysis and Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex Peter did his BA and PhD in Economics at Cambridge University. He is a specialist in European Economic Integration and other global public policy issues, including the EU’s relations with the WTO. Rob Little: director of operations at Hillingar, Rob has over 30 years of experience in operations and supply management. He shares some practical advice and his expertise around issues of importing and exporting with the EU after the end of the Brexit transition period.

Watch the full webinar here:


The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about many challenges for businesses, but this series will be focusing on the areas of growth and opportunity during these uncertain times. SexTech is one such area, with a growth rate of 87% from 2019 to 2020 it is one of the fastest-growing sectors right now.

With companies constantly trying new and innovative ways to sell sex in the digital age, from dating apps to sex toys, technology is changing the way we interact with each other. In this webinar series, we explore this world and many more to see how companies can thrive during Covid-19.

Hear from our sexperts and find out how you can benefit from this boom! Helena Jevons: Head of Sales and Marketing at Sussex Innovation, Helena is an experienced commercial strategist and works on both internal sales and marketing for Sussex Innovation and consultancy work with our clients. Helena previously had the role of Marketing Director at sex toy brand Je Joue and has maintained an interest in the evolving technology in the sector ever since. Sebastian Gonzalez: Sales Director at Net1on1 Wholesale Ltd and also the CEO of Loving Joy Limited. He has been working in the adult industry for six years and has experience with all ends of it, from manufacturing to sales. Loving Joy is a brand of adult toys that are sold globally through a variety of different retailers and distributors. Loving Joy has been recognised in the mainstream media, with numerous products often getting features. Helen Quigley, Head of Production at B7 Media and recently involved in creating and voicing awareness shorts.

Watch the full webinar here:

Throughout 2021, a new Survive & Thrive event will be held each month – find out more about our upcoming schedule and register for future webinars by following our Eventbrite page.

Each session will be themed around a specific area of technological innovation, with an accompanying white paper delivered by our research and insight team. Take a look and download any of our archive of Survive & Thrive white papers.