We are delighted to announce Martin McCourt, Elaine Warburton and Chris Varley as the first Sixth Sense Senior Program Advisors. 

Renowned in their respective fields, they will be an invaluable addition to the team, helping us to build new partnerships with the next generation of innovators, share knowledge and resources, and scale solutions that accelerate progress and push the boundaries of design, manufacturing and engineering.

 Over the coming months, Martin, Elaine and Chris will work closely with the Sixth Sense leadership team to help evolve the programme and identify how we can reach new partners and inspire diverse cohorts of startups to participate in future challenges. Senior Program Advisors will also participate in select events with each cohort to provide expert advice on scaling their business.

 Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence designs solutions that empower an autonomous future. The Sixth Sense Senior Program Advisors’ multidisciplinary expertise will support this mission. It will help Hexagon’s Sixth Sense accelerate innovation by building deep connections with the broader global start-up ecosystem.

 Martin McCourt

 Martin McCourt was the CEO of Dyson for 15 years. As CEO, he devised and implemented a strategy that transformed the company from a single-product, single-market producer into one where 80% of the business came from over 60 markets. Martin was directly responsible for establishing Dyson subsidiaries in the USA, Japan, Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

Currently, Martin holds non-executive positions in multiple companies in the manufacturing sector, such as e-bikes motors producer FreeFlow Technologies, the global leader in outdoor cooking Weber, and advanced machinery and robotics firm Tharsus.

Martin says of joining the Sixth Sense advisory board: “Scaling up a business can be immensely rewarding as well as challenging. I have been working with inventors for many years and still get a great buzz from helping them to achieve their dreams. Working closely with the innovators selected by Sixth Sense promises to be a lot of fun”.

 Chris Varley

Chris Varley has led new business and product creation efforts for several major corporations, including AT&T, CompuServe, Prentice-Hall, and The Walt Disney Company. In his current role as a Principal with Goodyear Ventures, Chris focuses on mobility and sustainability-related investments that enhance Goodyear’s products and services.

A two-term Generation Foundation Fellow for Sustainable Development and former Vice President of NorTech, the Northeast Ohio Technology Coalition, Chris played a critical role in the early development of the clean energy movement in Northeast Ohio.

Chris says: “Sixth Sense has an impressive ability to connect early-stage startups with large organisations at the right time and with the right people. They enable innovators to work together in an atmosphere of trust and confidence, and I look forward to supporting that mission.”

Elaine Warburton

 Elaine is an entrepreneur, innovator and investor who previously judged our first Sixth Sense cohort. With a background in healthcare, she also co-invented several innovative devices that are disrupting the diagnostics and digital health markets, driving the democratisation of healthcare. 

“I was privileged to judge the inaugural Sixth Sense cohort. As someone who loves innovation in all forms, I was bowled over by the startups’ sheer enthusiasm and ability to invent novel pathways and processes that disrupt traditional thinking in manufacturing,” Elaine says. 

“I have started many companies and taken some from ideation to scale. Therefore I can guide the founders to avoid many of the rabbit holes they will encounter during their entrepreneurial journey to success.”

Currently, Elaine is Co-founder and NED of QuantuMDx Group, which has developed the Q-POC™ portable lab; Co-founder and Executive Chair of ReadyGo Diagnostics, which is bringing diagnostics to bathroom cabinets; Chair of Javelo Health, a novel, safe and secure method to attach lines. She also provides advisory services to Innovate UK and various cancer charities and mentors Women in STEM.