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Our People - Suffolk Centre of Female Entrepreneurship

Introducing the people who make up the Suffolk Centre of Female Entrepreneurship.

Stef Thorne

Stef is the Head of Business Engagement and Entrepreneurship Services and leads the Innovation Centre operational team and Business E&E Services team which incorporates support for postgraduate research through the Graduate School, Enterprise and Business Development,  Research funding (Pre-Award), Research Ethics and Governance.

Stef is increasingly engaged with the role Universities play in supporting regional economic growth and development and interested in how the support of female entrepreneurship and flexible working can improve productivity.

Stef sits on the ERDF KEEP+ and Innovation Bridge Steering Groups. She is a Governor of St John’s Primary School, Ipswich, (Chair of Curriculum Committee, EAL , Gifted and Talented, STEM Skills Governor). She is currently mentoring two researcher developers at other Universities (Anglia Ruskin and SWPS, Poland) as part of a VITAE pilot.


Formerly she was an elected Member of the Executive of the UKCGE (UK Council for Graduate Education) and Trustee of the Charity for a period of two and a half years from September 2013.

Recent conference presentations include:

  • Thorne, S (2017) ‘Innovation Outreach: Widening Participation of SMEs in Research and Innovation within Norfolk and Suffolk’ Next practice session at the University-Industry Interaction conference, Dublin, Ireland, 6th June 2017
  • Thorne, S (2017) ‘Small is Beautiful? ‘The Enteprising Campus’, Invited to speak at a conference focusing on developing enterprise and entrepreneurship in small, specialist and newer institutions run by MASHEIN (Management of Small Higher Education Institutions Network) and Enterprise Educator's on Friday 31st March 2017 at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln
  • Thorne, S (2014) ‘Engaging academic staff in the supervision of interdisciplinary doctoral degree programmes in the UK: Turning round the super tanker of monodisciplinarity’ Final Proceedings of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Eighth annual summit on Global Education ‘ Interdisciplinary Learning in Graduate Education and Research’, Newfoundland, Canada
  • Thorne, S (2014) ‘Is PRES the only way? A case study of the use of focus groups for PGR feedback’, UKCGE International Annual Conference 2014, Dublin


Andreea Tocca

Andreea is the Research Development Manager responsible for supporting staff to apply for research funding, the Research and Enterprise Development Programme/Suffolk Doctoral Training Pathway and supporting research ethics and governance. Andreea has more than 20 years of experience in higher education and practical practice in the healthcare sector.

She has been responsible for the delivery of a large number of commissioned research projects for the public sector.

Current research interests: international comparison of healthcare equality; social enterprise as a public health and well-being intervention and perspectives on women entrepreneurship in Europe. Andreea supports the Centre through horizon scanning for appropriate research and funding opportunities, supporting bids, and contributing to its direction.








Ruth Paton

Ruth Paton is the Innovation Centre Manager within Business Engagement and Entrepreneurship Directorate, supporting enterprise and business development, engaging with members and clients, promoting the University’s business outreach capacity and enterprise programmes. Ruth has been responsible for the delivery of ERDF projects Innovation Bridge and assisted the KEEP+ programme to support the growth of SME's in the region.

Key to Ruth's role is identifying opportunities for collaborative relationships with University expertise, particularly around knowledge exchange opportunities, engaging with a range of partners in the local enterprise area and creating an innovation centre that acts as a catalyst and generates an environment for innovative collaborations.

Ruth is passionate about reducing gender inequality and increasing diversity within organisations, following a her families history of working to advance women's education through research funds and grants, and women's rights advocacy.