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SME & Start-Up Conference

5 December, 2023 @ 10:00 - 16:00

SMEs constitute 99% of all companies in the UK, making them of critical importance to the economy. In transport, SMEs and start-ups are vital across all modes, providing products and services to all parts of sector, acting as a source of new thinking and ideas and supporting jobs and investment in local communities.

Transport technology has long benefited from its many start-ups, spin-offs and small businesses, but it is vital that the industry continues to support these organisations, providing the right environment for them to flourish and grow. For these companies, having visibility of upcoming work, clear and accessible procurement processes and understanding of how transport authorities and multi-national organisations can work with them, is critical.

The ITS UK SME and Start-Up Conference seeks to explore how we can create the right environment from which smaller transport technology businesses can thrive. The Conference, taking place on 5 December at WSP’s Offices in Birmingham, will explore what Government at all levels, transport authorities and the private sector is doing to support a dynamic and flourishing SME and start up community.

The event will involve a number of key note and panel sessions focused on exploring key issues of pertinence to the SME and start-up community, followed by workshops on how industry and Government can work together in future.

Please note, although you do not need to be a start-up or SME to attend this event, priority will be given to start-up and SME representatives should all places be filled.


10:00 – 10:30: Arrivals, networking, teas and coffee

10:30 – 10:35: Welcome, ITS UK Chief Executive Max Sugarman

10:35 – 10:40: Overview from Hosts: Catherine Whitfield, Associate Director, Intelligent Transport Services, WSP

10:40 – 11:10: Keynote: Martin Traynor OBE, Small Business Crown Representative

11:10 – 11:55: Panel: How can we best support start-ups and SMEs: The Clients & Government View, with:

  • Martin Traynor OBE, Small Business Crown Representative, Cabinet Office;
  • Steve Sopp, Senior Category Lead – Transport Technology Services, Crown Commercial Services;
  • Ghaith Al-Werikat, Senior Supplier Development Manager, National Highways;
  • Alisdair Ritchie, Head of SME Development, Connected Places Catapult

12:10 – 12:55: Panel: How can we best support start-ups and SMEs: The Tier One and Consultant View

  • Nick Fearnhead, Head of Project Mobilisation and Technology Services – Highways, Balfour Beatty
  • Pryce Evans, Senior Associate Director, Jacobs
  • Lee Tooze, Street Lighting Design Manager, Amey

12:55 – 1:40: Panel: How we can best support the growth of the sector: The SME and Start Up View, with:

  • Gabriel Jacobson, CEO, Valerann;
  • Peter Cattell, Head of Technical Sales, Clearview Intelligence;
  • Andrew Caleya Chetty, Starling Technology;
  • Damian Horton, Co-Founder, Eloy

1:40- 2:40: Lunch

2:40 – 3:10:  Workshop 1: Moving Forward: What can we take away from today?

The Conference will break into three groups exploring procurement, finance and funding and partnerships

3:10 – 3:40: Workshop 2: Moving Forward: What can we take away from today?

The Conference will break into three groups exploring procurement, finance and funding and partnerships

3:40 – 4:00: Reporting back, next steps and concluding remarks



Martin Traynor OBE
Small Business Crown Representative

Based at the Cabinet Office in London, Martin works with government departments to help make procurement policies, practises, and procedures simpler for SMEs to navigate. He also works with SMEs to encourage them to think about pitching for both central government contracts and other opportunities across the wider public sector.

Martin has extensive experience in the leisure and hospitality sector, following a successful career in hotel management. In 2001 Martin decided to change career to take up the role of Group Chief Executive of the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce (including CEO of Business Link, Leicestershire).

After leaving the Chamber in 2014, he set up his own consultancy business which he combines with several key Non-Executive roles.

In the 2007, Martin was awarded an OBE in HM The Queen’s New Year’s Honours for “Services to business and the community of the East Midlands”.

Steve Sopp

Transport Strategy Commercial Lead – Technology Pillar, Crown Commercial Service

Steve is the transport technology strategy lead at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), the biggest public procurement organisation in the UK. Steve joined CCS in February 2022 after a public sector career encompassing many transport and innovation related roles, including as relationship manager for an industry led programme to fund low carbon propulsion technologies, as the Innovate UK transport lead for the UK’s Small Business Research Initiative, as a senior policy advisor at the Intellectual Property Office, and as Head of a Vehicle Primary Safety at the Department for Transport. Steve has led international negotiations on transport topics, and was chair of a UN vehicle standards working group. Steve graduated from the University of the West of England with a first class honours degree in engineering and has also completed a post graduate diploma in Intellectual property law.

Catherine Whitfield

Associate Director (ITS), WSP & ITS UK Vice Chair

Catherine is an Associate Director within the ITS business at WSP. She has over 20 years’ experience working in the intelligent transport industry, helping clients overcome challenges, unlock potential and create new solutions. She specialises in the operational, user and business elements of Intelligent Transport Systems, providing an interface between organisational needs and the detailed technical and operational solutions that meet them.

Over her career she has worked with a range of organisations including National Highways, the Department for Transport, Transport Scotland and the Dubai Transport Authority, helping them formulate and implement strategic programmes of work to deliver a step change in customer experience and safety. Catherine is a keen advocate for increasing diversity within our industry, across all characteristics, including academic background. She is proud to be a Chartered Geographer and actively encourages, supports and mentors early career professionals from all backgrounds to define their own development routes.



5 December, 2023
10:00 - 16:00
Event Category:


WSP Mailbox
Wharfside St
Birmingham, B1 1RQ
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