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Brian O'Connor

After growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Brian developed his career as a consultant, manager and investor. He has worked in the UK, US and Hong Kong and has vast experience as a company director in a variety of industries and professions. He has raised significant sums for companies through both private equity and structures and exchange listings. Through his long established consultancy company, Corporate Direction Ltd, he is currently providing strategic advice to Governments, International organisations and companies on the challenges facing healthcare in general and specifically on the Connected Health opportunity.


Bleddyn Rees
NE Director, Digital Health Expert & Lawyer

Bleddyn is a vastly experienced commercial lawyer with 30 years experience of outsourcings, privatisations and complex contracting and projects. He has a unique CV for a private sector lawyer, having spent three and a half years on secondment as General Counsel of the Commercial Directorate of the Department of Health. On his secondment to the Department of Health he advised the Minsters (Prime Minister, Secretary of State, Ministers of State), Special Advisors and NHS organisations and gave evidence to the Health Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee. Bleddyn has a very detailed understanding of the UK health sector and regulatory framework.


Julien Venne
Strategic Advisor

Julien is the Strategic Advisor of the European Connected Health Alliance (ECHAlliance).His role is to support companies in their business development in Europe, and policy-makers and public authorities in several European Countries. His expertise covers innovation development, business models design and ecosystem creation within the Connected Health sector. He has a multi-disciplinary academic background, with economics, sociology, political sciences and complex systemic. In the past Julien has worked for different health and social care providers and has driven several projects and eHealth clinical trials.

Beatriz Sanz
Events Manager

Bea is a dedicated Meeting and Event Planner with 15+ years experience in corporate meeting planning. She is a detail-oriented professional with strengths in event creation, planning and execution. Bea started her career at 19, working as an Event Project for a Hotel company while obtaining her University College of Tourism from University of Girona. After graduation, sheobtained a Master in International Relations and Opening New Markets from “Eserp, Business School”. Career highlights include working as part of the operational team of the eHealth Week 2010 international conference, working as Project Manager for 256ideas on their international projects.


Matt Rigby
Communications Lead

Matt manages Communications for the ECHAlliance, having joined the team from the Manchester Connected Health Ecosystem. He has a solid background in communication technologies across digital, design and media engagement. Matt is based in London. His experience covers Project Management on a range of digital innovation programmes, specifically those targeted at providing support to small companies wishing to develop their businesses and access the UK NHS.

Heather Smith
Administration Manager

Heather manages connector administration and membership communications for the ECHAlliance. Previously an Office Manager for a multi-national company Heather has over 15 years experience in administration. Based in Belfast Heather is involved on the ground with the Northern Ireland Ecosystem.


Damian O'Connor
Director of Operations

Damian is COO at the European Connected Health Alliance, ensuring delivery of all aspects of day-to-day operations and providing strategic leadership to deliver the ECHAlliance vision.
He has also been driving the development of an International Network of Permanent Connected Health Ecosystems throughout Europe, to provide sustainable and structured opportunities for academia, patient groups, health & social care providers/payers and industry to meet and provide solutions to specific problems.
Damian gained 30 years of experience in British Telecom, with a background in service and customer management, efficiency challenge delivery, programme and business management.
In 2008, Damian set up his own Business Consultancy, providing clients with professional advice and support in business improvement and efficiency programmes, as well as providing training in leadership and management skills.


Paula Dougan
Operations manager

Paula began her career at PwC, specialising in the healthcare sector. During her 8 years with PwC, she undertook performance reviews of services and value-for-money studies on behalf of the Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety in Northern Ireland. Paula also worked with NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government on ‘Better Together’, Scotland’s National Patient Experience Programme, exploring patient experience of hospital and GP services.
As Operations Manager at ECHAlliance, Paula ensures the delivery of all aspects of day-to-day operations related to membership, ecosystems, European projects and strategic partnerships and events.
Paula is the ECHAlliance project lead for EC Funded projects GET – Global eHealth Transforming services and Readi for Health.


Tobias Gantner
Strategic Advisor

Tobias is a restless resident of different worlds, a roaming renaissance man: A medical doctor by training, a health economist and jurist by education, a philosophy aficionado by academic passion and curious by default. He has worked in a number of leading positions in hospital patient care and major industry companies such as Siemens, Novartis, Bayer Healthcare and Johnson&Johnson. Subsequently he followed his bliss and founded the ‘HealthCare Futurists’ (HCFs).
Tobias holds a number of academic appointments and is a sought after speaker in topics related to the future of health-care. He is on the advisory board for digital health in a number of institutions and is interested in digitalization and democratization in healthcare that both go along. Among his clients are major health-care industry players as well as newcomers to the market and start-ups.
He is currently approaching a professorship at the Fresenius University of applied sciences at Cologne campus for innovation in healthcare, design thinking and leadership in innovation.
Tobias is supporting the ECHAlliance in the fields of strategic advice as on how to develop ecosystems in Germany and how to support companies that want to establish business in Germany.