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Our team brings together experience in software, environmental science and policy, and building start-ups.


Kieran Abbott

User Experience / User Interface Designer

Kieran is a product designer passionate about creating meaningful digital experiences. Over the past twelve years, he has designed many products across varying industries with a focus on positive impact. Previously a co-founder of a B Corp product organisation, he also volunteers on a charity board. When not in the office, Kieran is likely to be found in the Welsh mountains, hiking, mountain biking, or walking with his black labrador, Gus.

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Kieran on LinkedIn

Bryony Blades

Data Scientist

Bryony is a PhD student at Oxford, researching the distribution and origins of biodiversity, with a particular focus on spatial modelling and landscape genomics. With experience in both ecology consultancy and academia, she works with Verna to help us use data to better understand the impact of environmental change. In her spare time, you’ll find Bryony watching sports or birds, and spending time with her family.

Bryony on LinkedIn

Dr Matthew Brown

Co-founder & Co-CEO

Matthew leads Verna (with Rafi), with a particular focus on science, engineering, products, and communications. Before Verna, he led the climate change mitigation team at Defra, co-founded a social enterprise which raised over £50m, and researched computational physics at Cambridge. When not at his desk, his favourite pastime is herding his kids through forests, heathlands, and seashores.

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Matthew on LinkedIn

Rafi Cohen

Co-founder & Co-CEO

Rafi leads Verna (with Matthew), with a particular focus on commercial strategy, operations, finance, and investor relations. Before Verna he led climate and nature work at Boston Consulting Group, KPMG, and Quadrature Climate Foundation. He also founded a national social enterprise. He is a Chartered Accountant, studied neuroscience at Oxford, and recently fulfilled a life-long ambition to keep chickens.

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Rafi on LinkedIn

Dr Ian Dickinson


Ian is Verna’s Chief Technology Officer, and leads the software product development team. He has a PhD in user-software interactions, and believes strongly in the application of user-centred design to create accessible and engaging products. Previously a senior researcher with HP and co-founder of a data consultancy, he volunteers as a coding mentor and coach. Although a keen technologist, you’ll also find him hand-carving spoons from greenwood!

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Ian on LinkedIn

Dr Mikael Forup MCIEEM

Director of Ecology

Mikael is Verna’s lead ecologist. With a PhD focused on the restoration of ecological interactions, he has retained a passion for conservation and enhancement of biodiversity throughout his career. After years in consultancy across the UK, he joined Verna to support the development of software to facilitate better decision-making for nature. Mikael is based in Scotland, and when he’s not in his office you may find him with his son on the local beach looking for fossils.

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Mikael on LinkedIn

Eric Li

Software Engineer

Eric is a software engineer who has worked in various roles throughout the software development cycle, primarily within the financial sector. He is passionate about sustainability. In his spare time, he enjoys creating different flavours of popcorn with his kids.

Charlotte Pigott

Postgraduate Student

Charlotte is working with Verna as part of a postgraduate student placement. She has an MSci in biology and a particular interest in agricultural issues and nature-based solutions. She works on a range of projects including agroforestry research, fieldwork, and landowner engagement. During her free time, Charlotte can be found doing yoga, painting, or caring for her 65-year-old tortoise.

Matthew Sackman

Principal Software Engineer

Over the last 15 years, Matthew has enjoyed a rich variety of roles in building and delivering software. He has worked extensively on distributed message brokers, built novel distributed databases, and helped build cloud-based tooling for the automation of micro-biology. An avid collector of hobbies, Matthew is frequently found playing concerts, gardening, making fine furniture, or some combination of the three!

Advisory board

Tom Butterworth

Head of Ecology, WSP

Gi Fernando

Chair, Climate Subak

Tom Hill

Director of Impact Economics, Savills

Liz Milne

Chair, Association of Local Government Ecologists (ALGE)

David Singleton

CTO, Stripe

Peter Whitfield

Former Director of Operations, Tilhill Forestry

Join the team

Like ecosystems, teams are more vibrant, innovative, and resilient when they are more diverse. We are keen to connect with anyone, from any background, who is passionate about addressing the climate and nature crises.