Meet the Team

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Mike Baker

Senior Project Manager

I have been working in Banking & finance for 29 years before moving into business support and grant management 12 years ago.

I am responsible for the management of NTGF and the Delivery Team.

Always strive to exceed customer expectations; it is much easier and more cost-effective to retain a customer than win a new one.

My favourite quote is "Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re probably right" (Henry Ford).

Although I enjoy running and keeping fit, I have a really sweet tooth and love to eat cake, chocolate, desserts and puddings, so I undo all my hard work!

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Brent Smithson

Business Support Advisor

I worked on the UK Government's Business Support Helpline, providing guidance and signposting to pre-start, start-up, and established businesses across England. In our region I worked in the field delivering the Skill Support for the Workforce scheme, helping employers to access free training for their employees to unlock potential and upskill their workforce. I have also successfully run businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors.

I’m now a Project Adviser for the North of Tyne Growth Fund, covering the North Tyneside local authority area.

My top tip for business is to invest in your people, your employees, these are the people that will drive your business towards success.

My favourite business quote is from Sir Richard Branson “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to”. 

I also like “You don’t build a business, you build people, then people build the business”

As a family we try to spend time in our allotment, however, with two young sons, we do spend a lot of time playing together on the X-box. I also love coaching and I am a level 3 (Uefa B) licensed football coach of the girls U14 academy team at Durham Regional Talent Club.

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Andrew Frost

Project Adviser

I have worked at UMi as a Business and Investment Adviser on large capital grant schemes for the last 7 years prior to moving to his current role in January 2020. Previous to this he was a Business Link Business Adviser and originally came from the Building Society sector where he was an Investment Manager.

I am a field Advisor covering Northumberland. My role is to provide information, diagnostic and brokerage services to SMEs. For companies looking to apply to the scheme’s large capital grant, we offer one to one support assisting with all aspect of the grant application process.

My top tips for business are to try to look as far as you can over the horizon of the business landscape – this will help to prepare in advance for issues that may arise (such as a change in regulations) rather than having to react to them when they happen.

My favourite quote is "Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is king".

I like the hills and usually goes on a walking holiday every couple of years – the last one was in the southern uplands in Scotland. I’m was a keen rugby player in days gone past, I’m now only a TV spectator. 


Other interests include science & history documentaries and the occasional soiree with friends and family.


Lisa Gowler

Project Advisor

I worked in the motor trade for ten years, set-up and managed various successful businesses before moving into business support.  I worked for Business Link as a Business Adviser, the Business Support Helpline as a support Adviser and then worked on various RGF and ERDF grants.  In total, I have worked as a Business Adviser for almost 15 years.

I am now a Project Adviser delivering and providing a hand-hold service to customers wishing to grow and access the North of Tyne Growth Fund, covering the Newcastle local authority area.

My top tips for a business are to be organised, have a vision, be proactive on your marketplace, look after your team and treat them well and always exceed your customers' expectation.

My favourite business quote is “Believe in yourself, never give up and go about your business with passion drive and enthusiasm”.  (Peter Jones)

I love being at home with my family - “There’s no place like home”.  I enjoy baking, I’m a keen gardener and enjoy taking walks in the countryside where I live with my adorable little dog “Lexi”.

David Convery

Service and Investment Executive

I have many years of administering funding programmes. This involved assessing applications, processing claims and collating customer paperwork.  Being the Front of House to UMi and the teams that I worked with. I support the out-bound team members.  I have a vast amount of experience of the ERDF process as well as other government contracts.

I am the first point of contact for customers to discuss eligibility and start the process for applying. As well as assessing the customers' expression of interest, I am responsible for collating all customer documentation throughout their journey to application stage ready for reporting.

My top tips for businesses are to “offer great customer service” and “continue to look for new opportunities”.

My favourite business quote is “Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops”. (Thomas J. Watson)

Music is my main hobby both listening and playing, I also enjoy reading.


Supported by the 2014-2020 European Structural & Investment Funds Programme

© 2020 by UMi Commercial Ltd

Spectrum 6, Spectrum Business Park, Seaham, SR7 7TT

0191 716 1007