Government-backed UK tech network Tech Nation has announced Stephen Kelly as its new Chair, succeeding Eileen Burbidge MBE whose departure was first announced in January.

Kelly brings to the role experience in scaling tech businesses as a successful serial entrepreneur and from time in UK government.

Born in Kent, he began his career at American multinational computer technology corporation Oracle as an executive of the European management team where he spent seven years.

Between 1997 and 2005 he grew enterprise software firm Chordiant to $70m revenues and floated the company on NASDAQ as CEO.

Kelly returned to the UK in 2006 to oversee the transformation of FTSE pure-play software company Micro Focus as its CEO for nearly four years.

From 2010 to 2015 he was COO of UK Government, and served as HM Government's Security, Information & Risk Officer (GSIRO).

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He led the turnaround of Newcastle’s multinational enterprise software company The Sage Group as its CEO between November 2014 and September 2018.

Since 2004, he has been an early stage investor in over a dozen start-ups – including cloud-based professional Services automation (PSA) software firm Kimble - and has held multiple non-exec directorships including Irish software company Curam, which was acquired by IBM in 2011.

Last year he invested in SaaS company 3radical.

As Chair of Tech Nation, he will liaise directly with community representatives and tech entrepreneurs, supporting Tech Nation’s CEO Gerard Grech.

Grech said of the appointment: “[Kelly’s] outstanding credentials and extensive experience both as a scaling entrepreneur and tech community champion of Scaleups, will help us deliver even more, with greater impact, especially at this crucial time during Covid-19 when companies need support and leadership more than ever”.

Kelly added: “I am thrilled to be working with Gerard Grech and the team at Tech Nation, in identifying and championing game-changing founders, leaders and scaling companies; fuelling their growth so they can positively transform society and create a stronger economy in the future. I have been so lucky to lead some amazing digital tech companies.

“Tech is my DNA, and I am hugely excited about applying the lessons I have learnt and my experience as a CEO, investor, director and mentor to help the next generation of UK scaleups.”

Outgoing chair Eileen Burbidge said: “I look forward to watching and cheering as Tech Nation continues to deliver on its ambitious strategy in coming years.

“Stephen’s experience both as a tech entrepreneur and scaling mentor will bring deep experience to the board, and I have no doubt that with his leadership alongside Gerard and the team, we will see tremendous impact from Tech Nation and sustained growth for the UK tech sector.”