Francis Irving’s CV

British citizen,

Summary: Highly skilled and responsible entrepreneur, programmer and campaigner. Proven track record with seeing successful projects through to completion. Excellent team player and completer-finisher.


Career History:
Trunk (construction), Memrise (languages), ScraperWiki (data science), (civic tech), Creature Labs (games), NC Graphics (manufacturing), VEGA Group (military).

Voluntary Work:
Awesome Liverpool (dean), Save Parliament (campaigns director), Public Whip (founder), Oxfam Campaigns Group (co-ordinator), TortoiseCVS (founder).

1st Class Degree in Mathematics (Oxford University), A Levels.

Career History

Self-Employed (2023 -)

Software engineering and management consultancy for various clients, including Trunk.

Engineering Manager / Principal Engineer, Memrise (2018 – 2023)

Making software to let you fully acquire a new language digitally.

Created and managed web product team, taking it from an abandoned part of Memrise, to being fully remade in React and the team leading the company at improving the product. Team practices included continuous deployment, automated dependency update merging, low round-trip time review process.

Shipped the first LLM-based language roleplaying bot in mid-2022, for all Memrise platforms and languages. Iteratively improved its quality and personality as a two person team, making it reliable and popular for millions of users. Coded in Python, React and using OpenAI. Coached company to also use LLMs for marketing, localisation and backend linguistics APIs.

Self-Employed (2016 – 2018)

Software engineering and management consultancy for clients who are excellent at what they do and have a social purpose, including:

PiC (Performance in Context) – Led data engineering and statistics for diversity in recruitment analytics startup. Built tooling and taught business analysts to use Python and Jupyter Notebook to reduce costs of data cleaning and analysis.

Bennett Institute for Applied Data Science, Oxford University – Developing web applications in Python to improve medicine strategically at Ben Goldacre’s lab. Built EU Trials Tracker and Retractobot. Paper published in the BMJ.

Chief Executive Officer, The Sensible Code Company (2011 – 2016)

Led data science startup from raw initial product (ScraperWiki) to break even. Building and maintaining team of up to 12 people. Active role in development of multiple products and platforms. Fund raising from grants and venture capital. Sales to corporations, Government and international organisations such as AutoTrader, the Office for National Statistics and UN OCHA.

Founding Developer, (2004 – 2010)

Started charity which makes digital products that engage people with democracy, and improve the community aspects of our lives. Led the world in creating the civic technology sector.

Built and launched sites such as WhatDoTheyKnow which helps people get information from Government, and TheyWorkForYou which lets you find out what your Member of Parliament has been up to. Developed and ran the original high profile, high performance 10 Downing Street E-Petitions site.

Grew mySociety’s organisation as a non-profit, involving volunteers. Programming websites with robust backends, web service interfaces and open source code using Perl, PHP and PostgreSQL. Media work, such as speaking live about mySociety on national radio.

Self-Employed (2002 – 2004)

Ran own business as a self-employed software engineer. Work included:

Ravenbrook LtdDeveloped software configuration management software, including work on Bugzilla and P4DTI, using Perforce.

FleaFallDeveloped a self-published computer game, coding the AI and networking. Implemented marketing, installation and e-commerce systems.

Senior Programmer, Creature Labs (1999 – 2002)

Developed artificial life Windows computer games in C++ and web applications in Perl and MySQL. Took a proactive role in finding important tasks and doing them or managing others to do them, even when they were not my formal responsibility. Positions held within the company included:

Creatures 3Developer on agent-based computer game in C++ on Windows. Invented innovative game build process, as described in my article Automating the Build Process published in the industry journal Gamasutra. Programmed Docking Station, a complex networked DLC integrated with a dynamic community web site.

Creatures Internet Edition for LinuxProducer, bringing the game to market by finding a publisher and negotiating a contract. Programmed using Linux APIs and the open source multimedia library SDL. Managed public beta testing, game packaging and marketing.

Bamzooki engine – Lead programmer of artificial life system which simulated genetically specified articulated creatures in a real physical environment. Since used in children’s BBC programme, Bamzooki. Integrated real-time physics engine MathEngine and scripting language Lua. Made a script development environment based on SciTE.

Software Developer, NC Graphics (1997 – 1999)

Developed high-performance computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, which controls drills to cut industrial products out of metal. Worked in a team to design user interface and to research complex 3D algorithms. Used C++, MFC, OpenGL and STL. Wrote user manual and Windows help.

Software Engineer, VEGA Group (1996 – 1997)

Developed multimedia training software for the Royal Navy using Borland Delphi. Co-ordinated small team to release product. Responsible for estimating timescales, creating documentation, following military quality standards and training customers.

Voluntary Work

Founder and Dean, Awesome Liverpool (2013 – 2018)

Started and ran the Liverpool chapter of the Awesome Foundation, giving micro-grants of £500 to innovative projects every month. Recruited over 25 trustees and attracted applicants with sales, marketing and event organising. Recently celebrated its tenth year.

Campaigns Director, Save Parliament campaign (2006)

Ran grassroots campaign against the Legislative And Regulatory Reform Bill. Turned legal advice into accessible briefings, worked with public relations to increase exposure in newspapers, coordinated thousands of supporters to write to their MPs and Lords. Made the Government back down and extensively amend the Bill.

Founder, Public Whip website (2003 – 2010)

Public Whip is a popular democracy website which makes it easy to find out how your MP has voted in the UK House of Commons. Initiated and led development of the project, developed website code. Publicised with charities and the media, acted as contact with parliament staff, MPs and Lords. Winner in the New Statesman New Media Awards in 2004.

Co-ordinator, Oxfam Campaigns Group, Cambridge (1997 – 2002)

Leader of the group, setting the agenda to campaign and fundraise for Oxfam. Oxfam is one of the largest charities in the UK, working to overcome poverty and suffering worldwide. Personal responsibilities included:

  • Organising campaigns stalls and fundraising events
  • Motivating the group and maintaining membership
  • Appearing on local TV and radio on behalf of Oxfam
  • Speaking at local bookshops and conferences
  • Lobbying MP and city council on development issues
  • Liaising with other local organisations on joint activities
  • Representative at national Oxfam assembly to formulate future policy

Project Founder, TortoiseCVS (2000 – 2002)

TortoiseCVS is an easy to use version control client integrated into Windows Explorer. It has been downloaded millions of times, and was used extensively for 20 years in commercial and academic environments. Created original software with a particular focus on usability, and managed the open source project using collaborative development over the internet.


1st Class Degree in Mathematics, Oxford University (1992 – 1995)

Including advanced courses in Complexity and Cryptography, Lattice Theory, Relativity and Gödel’s Theorem. Lincoln College scholarship 1993-1995.

A Levels (1992)

Biology A, Mathematics A, Further Mathematics A, Physics A, General Studies A.


Please email me for names and contact details of referees.