European Entrepreneurship & Innovation Thought Leaders Seminar

Speaker Bios - Winter 2013

January 7

Anne Glover, Amadeus Capital Partners (UK)

Anne Glover - CEO, Amadeus Capital (UK)

Anne is Chief Executive and Co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners Limited, the European technology investor. In Anne’s current position, she brings together her many threads of experience — as a scientist, operating manager, and venture capitalist. 

Before founding Amadeus, Anne was a business angel and Chief Operating Officer of Apax-backed company, Virtuality Group, which listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1993. Early in her career she lived and worked in the US, working in manufacturing with Cummins Engine Company, and in strategy consulting with Bain & Co. in Boston, before returning to the UK to join Apax Partners & Co in 1989 to invest in early stage companies. 

Anne was Chairman of the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA) from 2004 to 2005, and a non-executive director of the UK Technology Strategy Board from 2005-2012. She is currently a member of the European Research and Innovation Advisory Board and Chairman of the EVCA VC Platform Council. She is a member of the London Business School’s Private Equity Institute Advisory Board and serves on the boards of Glysure, Covestor Inc, Nomad plc and the Royal Society Enterprise Fund. 

Anne holds an MA in Metallurgy & Materials Science from Clare College, Cambridge, and a Masters in Public and Private Management from Yale School of Management. In June 2006 she was awarded a CBE for services to business, and in July 2008 was elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Jose da Franca, Portugal Ventures (PT)

Jose da Franca - Chairman & CEO, Portugal Ventures (PT)

Dr. José da Franca is Chairman and CEO of Portugal Ventures. As a professor entrepreneur, he co-founded “CHIPIDEA Microelectrónica, S.A.” in February 1997, and became Chairman of the Board and CEO. From a small analog design team he led Chipidea to eventually become a world leader in analog/mixed-signal Semiconductor Intellectual Property with over 340 engineers in design centers in Portugal, China, Poland, Belgium, France and Norway. He eventually left the company in September 2008 after its acquisition by MIPS Technologies Inc. in August 2007. 

Before that, in 1987, he founded the Integrated Circuits and Systems Group at IST and, in 1994, the IST Centre of Microsystems. He was a member of IST’s Executive Council between 1987 and 1991, Vice-President of ITEC (Technology Institute for the European Community), between 1988 and 1991, and a member of the Senate of the Technical University of Lisbon between 1990 and 1992. In June 2000 he became a Full Professor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of IST. 

While in Academia, Dr. Franca has supervised 32 graduate projects (12 Ph.D. and 20 M.Sc.) and actively participated in over 30 R&D projects in the area of mixed analog-digital integrated circuits and systems, particularly in the context of pan-European cooperative efforts involving both Universities and companies. He has also had direct research contracts with some leading European and US companies, including Nokia Mobile Phones, Siemens, Austria Microsystems, British Telecom, Rockwell Semiconductors and Atmel. The main results of his research have been published in over 60 journal papers, 200 conference papers, and several research books and monographs. He is co-author of a Chapter on Analog-Digital Conversion in the Wiley Encyclopedia of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and of five international patents on switched-capacitor networks. 

Among the numerous international and national academic and industry honors Dr. Franca has received was being named Fellow of the IEEE in 1997, for “contributions to Multirate Analog Signal Processing and Engineering Education”, and being the recipient of the Golden Jubilee Medal of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society in 1999. He was made Doctor Honoris Causa in Science by the University of Macao (PRC) in 2006 and honored with the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Industrial Pioneer Award in 2010 for “pioneering contributions to the development of Analog/Mixed-Signal Integrated Circuits and to their widespread use in the semiconductor industry by starting up an Analog IP design company”. In 2006, the President of the Republic of Portugal bestowed upon him the high distinction of “Grande Oficial da Ordem do Mérito”. He received the 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year Award established by the Alumni Association of the prestigious INSEAD Business School, the 2007 Ernst & Young International Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and in 2008 was the recipient of the prestigious Universidade de Coimbra Award. 

Dr. Franca was a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society between 1997 and 1999 and of the Executive Council of the European Circuits and Systems Society between 1998 and 2001. He served in various consulting assignments to the European Commission Scientific and Technology Programs, namely the Information Society Technologies Advisory Group (ISTAG) of the European Commission in 2008 and 2009, and was member of the Steering and Technical Program Committees of several International Conferences. He was General Chair of the International Electronics Conference of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society (Lisbon, 1998), General Chair of the Design, Automation and Test in Europe (DATE) Conference (Paris, 2002), and General Chair of the ESSCIRC/ESSDERC Conferences (Lisbon, 2003). 

Dr. Franca holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) of the Technical University of Lisbon (UTL) (1978), a Ph.D. degree from Imperial College of Science and Technology in London (1985) and the degree of “Agregado” from UTL (1992). In 1992, he attended on “Management of Research and Technology based Innovation” at MIT.

He is affiliated with Universities in Portugal and abroad, namely CUHK (Hong Kong) and FEUP (Porto, Portugal), and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Department of Engineering and Industrial Management of IST, the Strategic Board of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of IST and the General Council of the Business and Management School of Universidade Lusófona. 

Dr. Franca was State Secretary for Education of the Government of Portugal in 1991/92, and a non-executive Director of Banco Espírito Santo S.A., in 2008-2011. 

In February 2012, the Government of Portugal appointed Dr. Franca Chairman of the Board and CEO of the 3 government Venture Capital and Private Equity companies – Inov Capital, Turismo Capital and AICEP Capital Global. These have now been consolidated into a single, new company - Portugal Ventures, of which he is Chairman of the Board and CEO. 

Also by the appointment of the Government of Portugal, in February 2012, Dr. Franca is non-executive Chairman of the Board of PME Investmentos, the investment society for SMEs.

January 14

Maurizio Rossi, H-Farm Ventures (Italy)

Maurizio Rossi - VP & Co-Founder, H-FARM Ventures (IT)

Maurizio Rossi was born in Italy in 1964 and belongs to the "bad boy" generation. He is connected to creative culture and inspired by design because it shapes new things as well as people's minds. He likes to observe and understand people's lifestyles and their local traditions. 

In his previous-century experiences, Maurizio worked for a family-run company called Rossimoda, market leader of luxury women's footwear, at present part of the LVMH fashion holding, where his main commitment was new product-line spin-offs and market expansion. 

In 1990, within his family group, Maurizio launched Vista Point, a business unit dedicated to internationally expanding leading US action-sports brands such as NoFear, Spy Optics and DC. He has been involved in both retail and wholesale distribution networks and believes that the 21st century will bring the big shift. 

The internet, new information technologies together with clean energies and environmental issues will be the driving forces of this great opportunity and Maurizio Rossi has joined and invested in H-FARM to make his contribution to innovating models and to support the shift that is coming.

John Breslin, NUI Galway (Ireland)

John Breslin - Director,; Lecturer, NUI Galway (IE)

John Breslin is a lecturer in the School of Engineering and Informatics at the National University of Ireland Galway. He is also leader of the Unit for Social Software at DERI, the world’s premier Semantic Web research institute. 

John is best known for being a co-founder and director of Ltd., Ireland’s largest discussion website. About one third of Ireland’s population visits each month, and John has won two IIA Net Visionary awards for his work on and spin-off classified ads site 

As part of his Semantic Web research at DERI, John set up the SIOC project to create a semantic format for social web content interoperability and interlinks between community websites. This SIOC format has been used in thousands of websites including various US government sites and media publishers. 

More recently, John co-founded US company StreamGlider Inc. with web entrepreneurs Nova Spivack and Bill McDaniel. StreamGlider is a real-time streaming newsreader that can be private-labeled for content publishers on tablets, and has received funding from Irish Technology Capital in San Jose. He also set up Technology Voice, a web publisher that covers emerging technologies in long-form articles. He is an advisor to CrowdGather Inc., a forum network based in LA, and Dot-Irish LLC, a NY-based applicant for the .irish top-level domain.

January 28

Peter Bunus, SenionLab (SE)

Peter Bunus – Co-Founder, SenionLab AB; Associate Professor, Linköping University (SE)

Peter Bunus is the Co-Founder and Director of Business Development of SenionLab AB, a Swedish start-up company specialized in mobile sensor fusion technologies applied to indoor positioning and location based services. He enjoys acting as liaison between sales, marketing, and technology groups to support product positioning and customer demand as part of new product development. 

Prior to co-founding SenionLab, Peter was a Research Scientist at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and during his professional career has led several major software product development efforts and projects at various technology ventures. Peter has been involved in several start-up high technology ventures as a co-founder and has been actively involved in building their businesses. 

Peter is also an Associate Professor in Computer Science at Linköping University Sweden where he is teaching Software Engineering and Computer Science courses at both graduate and undergraduate level and performs research in the area of model-driven engineering. Peter has a vast experience in conducting research activities with the ability to bring innovative research ideas into production and development. 

Currently, Peter has the longest commute in the office, and splits his working time between Palo Alto, CA and Linköping, Sweden. In his free time, Peter enjoys spending time outdoors and fishing for salmon and pike in the icy waters of Sweden. He is hoping that one day, in one of his regularly fishing expedition to the Caribbean, he will catch the legendary Blue Marlin that has been seen around the paradise island of Curaçao.

Tomaz Frelih, Hekovnik|Boundbreaker (SI)

Tomaž Frelih - CEO & Co-founder, Hekovnik Startup School|Boundbreaker (SI)

Tomaž Frelih is CEO, mentor, and co-founder at Hekovnik Startup School, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. For the past three years he's been helping high-tech startups from Slovenia to turn their ideas into reality. In the meantime he has served as an interim CEO in several startups during their initial growth phase.

Over 200 startups have passed through at least one of Hekovnik's programs, with over 30 of them visiting Silicon Valley as part of Hekovnik's 'BoundBreaker' program. Of these, 15 companies have secured private investment, totaling over 4M EUR ($5.3M). Among these is Visionect, which has secured 1.5M EUR in private seed capital, while formerly Flowr - now Zeppelin - joined the ranks of TechStars. 

Before co-founding Hekovnik, Tomaž studied hardware engineering at the Faculty of Computer Science in the University of Ljubljana. During his studies he collaborated with the Laboratory for Telecommunication in the Faculty of Electrotechnics. During his studies he also served as President of the Slovenian Student Union, where he acted as the guardian of student rights across Slovenia and led several negotiations with the national government.

Anne Lidgard, VINNOVA (SE)

Anne Lidgard, Director, Silicon Valley Office, VINNOVA (SE)

Anne Lidgard is Director of VINNOVA's Silicon Valley Office and is also a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University via The Wallenberg Research Link. She has an M.Sc. degree in Engineering Physics, and a doctorate degree in Physics, both from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Her professional background is in corporate R&D at AT&T Bell Labs and at Ericsson, within the fields of Lightwave and Mobile Communications. She has also spent many years working with small businesses in various positions, both in operations and as board member. More specifically, 1997-1999, Dr Lidgard held a position as Director of European Sales for a US software company, Geoworks, which developed operating systems and user-interface SW for mobile handsets. 

In 1999, she became CEO of Celltribe, a business group within the area of Mobile Services, which she founded together with three other partners, and which lead to a couple of new startups in the field, one which was later acquired by Mblox Corp. Between 2002 and 2005, Dr. Lidgard was Partner at Deseven AB, a venture catalyst company, where she primarily worked as a business advisor for high tech growth companies. 

Anne joined VINNOVA, The Swedish Governmental Innovation Agency, in January 2006, and has been part of the management team since May 2009.

February 4

Miriam Warren, Yelp

Miriam Warren - VP, New Markets, Yelp

Miriam joined Yelp in 2007 as the company's first Community Manager in Washington, D.C. After being promoted to oversee the East Coast Community Management team, she moved to London to establish Yelp's Europe beachhead as the Vice President of European Marketing. 

Now, as Vice President of New Markets, she oversees the company's expansion efforts internationally including recent launches of Yelp in France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark. Prior to joining Yelp, Miriam worked in executive search and talent acquisition, most recently at McKesson. Miriam holds a B.A. in ethnic studies from Mills College.

Angela Zaeh, Facebook

Angela Zaeh - International Growth, Facebook

Angela is working on spreading Facebook around the world. She spent the last four years growing the user base, developing the Facebook ecosystem and working with partners in key international markets. Starting with Germany, she later focused on Poland, Russia and more recently Korea and Japan. 

Before Facebook, Angela worked with the founders of African Leadership Academy, a social venture based in South Africa, and she was a consultant at BCG in Munich, Seoul and San Francisco. She holds a degree in International Business and Cultural Studies from Passau University in Germany and an MBA from Stanford.

Erica Labovitz, Indiegogo, Silicon Valley

Erica Labovitz - Director of Strategic Programs, Indiegogo

As one of the first employees of Indiegogo, Erica has always believed that anyone with a great idea and the passion to act on it should have the opportunity to raise money. After spending two years leading marketing for the organization, she now leads the Strategic Programs group - engineering and executing against ideas at the forefront of crowdfunding. 

Prior to Indiegogo, Erica was a Brand Manager at Kraft Foods, Inc., where she worked on over ten different businesses within the portfolio. Erica is a board member of The Cheti Sponsorship Program, and a former board member of The House Theatre of Chicago, where she recently completed two terms as Treasurer. She spends much of her leisure time in the community and has traveled extensively to volunteer, including time in New Orleans, Israel, and Tanzania. 

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from The Wharton School of Business and a Master’s of Science from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. Erica is a Cleveland Browns season ticket holder, an amateur triathlete, and a really big fan of karaoke.

Christina Mace-Turner, Flipboard, Silicon Valley

Christina Mace-Turner - Head of Partnerships, Flipboard

Christina Mace-Turner joined Flipboard in July 2011 as their Head of Partnerships, overseeing partner relations, programs and content strategy. Prior to that she served as Director of Content Strategy in the Marketing Communications Group for Apple, and was part of Apple’s global planning team, strategizing for marketing communications around emerging content trends in key markets throughout the world. She previously founded Apple’s Business Affairs team in response to the company’s global need for strategic localized content planning. This included rights management and partnership development/management in the mobile apps, digital media and publishing spaces. 

Prior to her work at Apple, Christina focused on intellectual property law for the entertainment and advertising group at Loeb & Loeb, LLP in New York. With the explosion of digital media and specialized content needs, Christina and her team managed the impact on the firm’s advertising and media clients. 

Christina graduated with honors from Brown University and received her J.D. from New York University School of Law. She is a member of the 2011 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.

February 11

Martin Bruncko, Geothermal Anywhere (Slovakia)

Martin Bruncko - Head of Europe, World Economic Forum; Advisor, Geothermal Anywhere (SK)

Martin Bruncko is the Head of Europe at the World Economic Forum with headquarters in Geneva. Previously, he has held several senior positions in the Government of Slovakia, including the post of Plenipotentiary for Knowledge Economy and deputy for European affairs of the minister of finance. During his career in the government of Slovakia, he was responsible for national policy in the area of R&D, technology policy, and innovations and has played a key role in the development and implementation of major structural reforms, including the introduction of the flat tax. He has also represented Slovakia in the highest EU and Eurozone bodies in charge of EU-level policy coordination and crisis management. 

Bruncko is also the founder and former chairman of Neulogy, the first major advisory and investment boutique in Central and Eastern Europe focusing on R&D, technology transfer and technology start-ups. He still sits on boards and advises several technology companies from Central Europe, including Geothermal Anywhere. 

Throughout his career, Bruncko has done numerous consulting assignments for both private sector and international organizations. He is currently a special advisor for global economic governance to the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. 

Bruncko holds a B.A. with honors and university distinction in International Relations and Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University and M.P.A. in International Developmentfrom Harvard Kennedy School.

Igor Kocis, Geothermal Anywhere (Slovakia)

Igor Kočiš - CEO, Geothermal Anywhere (SK)

Igor Kočiš, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Geothermal Anywhere, brings almost 20 years of engineering, business development and managerial leadership experience to the company. He is leading a 35-member team that is developing a groundbreaking concept PLASMABIT of a cost effective deep drilling system and rock disintegration method for accessing vast sources of energy. He is managing a mixture of different investment sources from private investors, issued bonds and public grants from national and European level. 

Igor spent seven years as a founder and Chairman of the Board of ARDACO, a hi-tech company with 50 employees. In 2005, Igor successfully managed the venture capital investor entry into ARDACO with a volume of € 3 million. Before 2001, Igor spent eight years as the CEO of the security technology company TAUREUS, building the company from scratch up to 25 employees in 2001. He has a M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the Slovak Technical University. He is a representative of the Slovak Republic in the European Technology Platforms in Brussels related to renewable sources.

Alexander Ljung, SoundCloud (Germany)

Alexander Ljung - CEO & Founder, SoundCloud (DE)

Alexander Ljung has been a cornerstone of SoundCloud’s success since he launched the company in 2008 with co-founder and CTO, Eric Wahlfross. In this capacity, Alex is responsible for SoundCloud’s vision, overall strategy, and leadership. Currently, he oversees a team of over 140 people worldwide. 

SoundCloud is the world’s leading social sound platform that enables anyone, anywhere, to create and share their originally created sounds across the web. The Company has experienced exponential user growth, reaching more than twenty million registered users, and averaging 1.5 million new users per month. 

Alex’s personal interests lie in the positive change and wider societal impact technology and design can have in the world. In his spare time, he enjoys listening, travelling, geeking out on academic theories, diving ship-wrecks and trying to not break his foot in South American coastal cities. He’s also a proud member of The Cloud Appreciation Society. 

Prior to co-founding SoundCloud, Alex began his career working in sound design for feature films and obtained a M.Sc. degree from The Royal Institute of Technology. He was born in the UK, grew up in Sweden, and splits his time between SoundCloud’s HQ in Berlin and the U.S. office in San Francisco, California.

February 25

Jim McLaughlin, Intelesens (Northern Ireland, UK)

Prof. James McLaughlin, CTO & Co-Founder, Intelesens; Director, NIBEC, Univ. of Ulster (UK)

Prof. Jim McLaughlin, a physicist, and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics has developed significant initiatives within research, technology transfer, outreach and teaching over these past 27 years. Presently, as a Professor in the School of Engineering he is also the Director of the Engineering Research Institute and Director of NIBEC. His salient disciplines address Connected Health and related bio-sensing applications. He was recently awarded an OBE for his services to Research and Economic Development in Northern Ireland. 

He has attained in excess of three hundred publications (H index 22) and he has been honored as an invited speaker at over thirty International Conferences and he has attracted over £32M of funding. 

In recent years Professor McLaughlin’s over-arching strategy is to develop a strong Connected Health Platform within Northern Ireland (as Chair of the European Connected Health Campus) and the EU. This work involves linking bioengineering and computing sciences with sensor technology developed within NIBEC and thus facilitating clinically-led research initiatives to benefit the healthcare sector. 

A holder of over twenty patents, including one for the world’s best selling disposable medical electrode, he has successfully co-founded a set of spin-out companies including the highly successful CH company - Intelesens Ltd. He is the chief technoly officer with Intelesens, the Chief Scientific Officer with SiSaF and a Director of a range of other businesses. Professor McLaughlin has held positions on committees such: RAE 2008 Materials Assessment Panel; the NI Matrix Panel (chair of sub-committee); EPSRC College; NanoIreland Task Force/Chaired the Nanomaterials Panel; Advisory panel to MSSI; Chair of European Connected Health Campus and various NI-Connected Health ECO system working groups.

Kai Backman, TinkerCAD (Finland)

Kai Backman - Founder & CEO, TinkerCAD (FI)

Kai is a founder and CEO of TinkerCAD, the world's most advanced solid CAD tool and the best way to get started with 3D printing. Since its launch in 2011 TinkerCAD has grown into the leading web-based CAD tool and has the largest public repository of solid models on the planet. 

Before founding TinkerCAD, Kai worked at Google as a systems engineer and previously founded two companies among them an indie games studio. His favorite pastimes includes writing ARM machine language, building yet another robotic rover and designing asynchronous distributed systems.

Brian Glynn, InvestNI (Northern Ireland, UK)

Brian Glynn - VP Trade Development, Invest Northern Ireland

Brian Glynn is VP of Trade Development for Invest Northern Ireland, the economic development agency for the government of Northern Ireland. Invest NI’s role is to grow the economy of Northern Ireland by supporting new and existing businesses to compete internationally, and by attracting new investment to Northern Ireland. 

Brian, based in Invest NI’s San Jose office, assists leading technology companies from Northern Ireland looking to gain traction in the US market. Prior to moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2009, Brian lived in Vancouver B.C, and Nantes, France, where he worked in aircraft manufacture with Airbus. 

Brian holds a B.Eng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Limerick, is a member of The Institute of Engineers Ireland, and an avid sportsman, competing for New Balance Silicon Valley Running Club and St.Joseph’s Hurling Club.

March 4

Peter Halacsy, Prezi (HU)

Peter Halacsy - Founder & CTO, Prezi (HU)

After serving as lead developer of, Hungary’s largest Internet company, Peter was Assistant Professor at the New Media department of Budapest University of Technology. He also co-founded Kitchen Budapest with Adam Somlai-Fischer. To Prezi, Peter brings his love of technology, skills in swing dance, and a wicked sense of humor.

Peter Arvai, Prezi (HU)

Peter Arvai - Founder & CEO, Prezi (HU)

Before joining Prezi, Peter established, which helps patients compare treatment outcomes between hospitals. was voted Best Website of Sweden in 2009. Peter was also part of creating the world's first mobile news reader, secure an IPO, and acquire companies as VP of Product Management at a mobile internet start-up, Mobispine. His half-written cookbook aims to explain everyday Japanese cuisine beyond sushi.

Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio|Angry Birds (Finland)

Peter Vesterbacka - CMO, Rovio | Angry Birds (FI)

Peter Vesterbacka is the Mighty Eagle of Rovio Entertainment, the creator of the wildly successful Angry Birds franchise and over 50 other games. Peter manages the company’s marketing and business strategy, including expanding Angry Birds into a broader entertainment franchise. He is also the founder of Some Bazaar, a new approach to building and growing new businesses. In 2011 Time Magazine recognized Peter as one of the most influential people in the world in their TIME 100 listing.

Prior to Rovio, Peter worked for HP in several communications-industry-related roles. While at HP, Peter founded the HP Mobile E-Services Bazaar, a global innovation and corporate partnership program that Booz Allen Hamilton declared an industry benchmark. Peter is also Co-founder and the original initiator of MobileMonday.

March 11

Ragnar Sass, Garage48 (Estonia)

Ragnar Sass, Founder - Garage48 | Pipedrive (EE)

Ragnar Sass is a serial startup entrepreneur and co-founder of a simple CRM software called Pipedrive and startup bootcamp Garage48.

Ragnar's first startup was a social network for pet owners that involves more than 350 000 users worldwide. His latest startup Pipedrive was founded in 2010. In the following year the company was chosen to San Francisco based startup accelerator Angelpad which was established by ex-Googlers. In addition, last year Pipedrive was nominated as Best Baltic startup. Today this simple and yet powerful tool is helping more than 15 000 salesman from 87 countries to manage their sales.

Ragnar has also organized more then 20 hack-a-thons in Eastern Europe and West and East Africa. These events are organized by Garage48 Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting startups and entrepreneurship. In Garage48 weekend event series people can turn their ideas into working web and mobile prototypes in just 48 hours. With the help of hack-a-thon events over 10 startups were created, successfully raising funds or developing popular products.

He started learning programming in high-school and studied IT management and marketing at universities. Before startup life he spent many years in media business where he led the development of newspapers’ and radio stations’ internet assets and launched a TV channel. Today Ragnar is splitting his time between Europe and California and training his hunting dog to be first dog hacker in the world.

Krzysztof Kowalczyk - HardGamma | GammaRebels (PL)

Krzysztof Kowalczyk - Founder & Managing Partner, HardGamma | GammaRebels (PL)

Krzysztof "Chris" Kowalczyk is Founder and Managing Partner of HardGamma Ventures (2010), an early stage fund based in Warsaw, Poland. As a part of HardGamma he founded the GammaRebels accelerator (2011). Both fund and the accelerator were recognized as ‘Highly Commended’ in the Europas 2011 Awards. His investments include mobile lab Appvetica, cloud collaboration integrator BusyFlow, coding skills tester Codility, iOS/MacOS lab Macoscope, e-commerce analytics Manubia and independent fashion e-commerce platform Chris helped SHWRM recently to close a series A ($1.5Mn) round with Burda International. He is also an advisor to Codility, and Filmaster. 

Chris is deeply involved in the European startup ecosystem, being a referrer with HackFwd and a mentor with Seedcamp (UK), IBM SmartCamp, Springboard (UK), StartupBootcamp, StartupHighway (Lithuania) and StartupSauna (Finland). In 2007 he co-founded the leading polish startup meetup scene ‘Aula Polska’ and in 2011 he organized the first Startup Weekend in Poland. 

Before founding HardGamma Ventures, Chris founded TMT management consulting firm UBIK Business Consulting (2005, now HardGamma Consulting). His prior professional experience includes being a management consultant with McKinsey & Company (2003-2004), introducing the Lycos Europe portal to the Polish market as Head of Content and Technology (Lycos Poland, 2001), co-managing an Internet start-up (System Internet Provider, 2000), and managing E.piphany CRM package implementations in Procter&Gamble divisions in Great Britain and the USA (2000).

During 2001-2008 Krzysztof served as an Assistant Professor at the Warsaw School of Economics Faculty of Business Informatics. His academic positions also include being a Lecturer in the Warsaw Executive MBA (Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota) and CEMS (Community of European Management Schools – Master in International Management) programs. 

Chris holds an M.A. in Information Systems Management (Warsaw School of Economics) and an M.A. in International Management (CEMS). He is also a Member of Mensa Poland and is a Founding Member of the Internet Society (ISOC) Poland.

Andrus Viirg, Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley

Andrus Viirg, Director, Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley (EE)

Andrus Viirg is the Director of Enterprise Estonia, Silicon Valley (from 2007), which is the representative office of Enterprise Estonia - a state foundation for business, trade as well as technology support and development. Mr. Viirg has also served as the Director of the Estonian Investment Agency (2001-2003). 

During the 1990's Andrus followed an international career with the World Bank Group (IBRD and IFC) heading the Bank Group Office in Tallinn, Estonia (1995-2001); and with the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC, as an Assistant to the Executive Director (1992-1994). Mr. Viirg has also worked for the Bank of Estonia (the Central Bank) on relations with international financial institutions. 

Andrus holds a diploma of engineering from the Tallinn University of Technology (1983) in the areas of automation and software engineering. He has also graduated from the Estonian School of Diplomacy (1992) in foreign trade relations. Mr. Viirg combines technical and economics knowledge with hands on experience in software development and electronics. 

As the Director of Enterprise Estonia, Silicon Valley, Andrus is responsible for building up the network of contacts enabling Estonian tech companies to access the US market, as well as promoting Estonia for foreign direct investment.

Tania Marinich, CEO, BEL.BIZ (Belarus)

Tania Marinich - CEO & Co-Founder, BEL.BIZ

Tania is CEO and co-founder of BEL.BIZ, a fast moving company with global perspectives developing the startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Belarus. In two years BEL.BIZ, supported by USAID and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has grown from the largest online content provider for business in Belarus into an institution fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in the region. 

BEL.BIZ is the host of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in Belarus, and also organizes the Minsk-based 'BEL.BIZ Battle' international startup competition, along with other regional startup events in partnership with top Northern European initiatives including Garage48 and Startup Sauna. BEL.BIZ's near-term plans include setting up a Startup Hub and an International Accelerator Program in Minsk. 

BEL.BIZ is also the only certified company in Eastern Europe offering the International Finance Corporation's (IFC) world class trademark training program Business Edge

Prior to founding BEL.BIZ Tania spent 8 years with the International Finance Corporation leading various private sector development projects within the scope of IFC advisory activities. 

Tania graduated with honors from Minsk Linguistic University. She also holds a M.A. with honors in International Economics from Belarusian Economic University, and received her International Executive MBA degree from the IE Business School in Madrid.

Burton Lee

Dr. Burton Lee - Lecturer, Stanford School of Engineering

Dr. Burton Lee PhD MBA, Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Lee's professional credentials span over 15 years of senior executive leadership and advisory positions with venture-backed startups, global technology corporations, venture capital and private equity firms, federal S&T agencies, state economic development offices, leading research universities, foreign governments and industry associations. His management and technical experience includes senior executive and research positions with Hewlett Packard, GE Global Research, DaimlerChrysler AG and NASA in the United States, Europe and Japan. Burton's research interests include Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), diagnostics, prognostics, maintenance and customer support for complex industrial systems; product design and development, including DfX, design-for-sustainability and -environment methodologies; artificial intelligence (Bayesian networks, ontologies, knowledge representation); aerospace systems; unmanned vehicles, robotics, electric transportation systems; open innovation in mechatronic systems; and innovation policy.

Dr. Lee is Managing Director of Innovarium Ventures, a strategic, financial and technical advisory services firm based in Silicon Valley. He also served as Principal and co-founder of Space Angels Network, a professionally managed national network of accredited investors focused on seed- and early-stage aerospace-related ventures. 

Dr. Lee's European experience includes 10+ years of professional and academic assignments in Dublin (Member, National Innovation Taskforce, Office of the Prime Minister, Govt of Ireland - 2009/2010), Stuttgart (DaimlerChrysler Research Labs), Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München), Vienna (Bundesamt für Eich- und Vermessungswesen), Geneva (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations - IUF), Prague (Univerzita Karlova v Praze), Barcelona and London. 

Burton holds a PhD in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (minor) from Stanford University (2002), and an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship (Cornell, 2004). He speaks German and Spanish.

Return to the Top Return to top