• Our Facilitators

    Combining innovation and business expertise

John O Connor BA (Hons) MA

John is widely recognized as one of the UK’s leading authorities on business innovation new product development, and has over 25 years-experience in helping businesses and individuals innovate successfully. Initially, this experience was gained as Director of Innovation Services at the Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre, one of Europe’s largest & most successful Business and Innovation Centres and the parent company of Excalibur.

In more recent years, John has been the Managing Director of Excalibur (UK) Ltd, one of the United Kingdom’s premier innovation process consultancies. He has also worked in cooperation with many large and small businesses.

He is also the prime mover behind the Shield programme and has assisted many hundreds of people into self- employment via the Shield Programme

He is co-author of the book Competing Through Innovation. The book details the success of the Sword Programme for SME’s and explains how this programme improves the ability of participating companies to develop new products and services.

John has also written several articles on the subject of innovation and new business starts. This included an article entitled Let There Be Light for the New Start Magazine (Volume 8, no 350) which outlines the Shield approach to a national readership.

John is a graduate of the University of Sheffield and has an MA from the University of Leeds. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the Market Research Society and also has a Diploma in Business Coaching from the University of Newcastle.

Sarah Brooks Bsc

Sarah is a prize winning presenter and Director of Excalibur (UK)Ltd who is very popular on our programmes- a graduate of Sheffield University, she has many years experience delivering innovation Programmes and has a good understanding of the pre-pre start up market.

In addition to her pre-pre start and pre-start experience Sarah works extensively with SMEs and major corporates e.g. Princess Foods and DLA Piper.

Steve Bates

Steve Bates has been a key deliverer of our Programmes for over 10 years.

Steve performs highly skilled tasks of both presenting to the group and motivating and encouraging through 1 to 1 coaching and “hand holding.”

Steve relates well to employees at all levels and always gets “top marks” from delegates in evaluation studies.

John Chambers BSc

John has First Class Honours Degree in Natural Science from Emmanuel College, Cambridge and has over 30 years- experience in helping companies and individuals develop new business ideas.

He has been an effective deliverer of innovation  programmes for companies  for over 15 years and is highly skilled in ensuring that people develop both new ideas and confidence in their abilities to cope with self employment.

Peter Lodge BA

Pete lodge had run several successful businesses and has experience in training management before joining the Barnsley business and Innovation Centre over a decade ago.

While employed by the BBIC as Training Manager he became involved in the delivery of the Sword Innovation Programmes for small businesses and individuals looking to become self-employed.

He has spent the last 25 years working with small business development as a business advisor helping individuals start their own businesses and, as a director of Excalibur UK Ltd, delivering innovations programmes and supporting delegates through the process of innovation and business start- up.

Peter’s experience and expertise and his ability to find creative solutions in a wide range of business sectors has helped many businesses to expand and individuals to become successful business owners.

Peter has a certificate in life coaching skills from the University of Newcastle.