Speakers

Thierry Breton is the European commissioner for the internal market, a position he has held since December 1, 2019. Before that, he was the chief executive officer of the French technology company Atos from 2008 to 2019. He was also minister for the economy, finance and industry for France from to 2005 to 2007, as well as chief executive officer of France Telecom from 2002 to 2005 and of Thomson Multimedia from 1997 to 2002. Prior to that, he was director for strategy and development, then director-general of the computer company Bull from 1993 to 1997. His previous political experience also includes the vice-presidency of the Poitou-Charentes Region in France from 1986 to 1986 and his role as an adviser to the French Minister for Education René Monory from 1986 to 1988. Breton received a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from École Supérieure d’Électricité (Supélec, now CentraleSupélec) in 1979 and later graduated from the Institut des Hautes Etudes de Défense Nationale (IHEDN).

Kerstin Jorna is the Director General of the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) at the European Commission. She is a German national and a civil servant at the European Commission where she has held various positions, amongst others as Head of Cabinet of several Commissioners and as Director in the areas of Intellectual Property, Innovation and Standards, Single Market Policy, Regulation and Implementation. Prior to her role as Director General at DG GROW, she was Deputy Director General in the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs at the European Commission (DG ECFIN).

Her areas of responsibility included, amongst others, macroeconomic surveillance of EU Member States, structural reforms, finance matters including the European Investment Plan and coordination with international financial institutions.

Jakub Boratyński deals with Single Market policies related to services, the recognition of professional qualifications, skills and market surveillance. DG GROW is also responsible for supporting industrial networks and alliances including the Industrial Forum, the European Enterprise Network and cluster organisations as well as the coordination of communication and outreach activities and relations with the European Parliament and Council.

Between 2014 and 2021, Jakub worked in the European Commission’s Directorate-General Communication Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT) with a primary focus on cybersecurity. He was involved in legislative negotiations (NIS1 and NIS2 Directives, Cybersecurity Act), the preparation of the Commission’s Recommendation for a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks, the EU cybersecurity strategy’s actions on resilience and cooperation with the EU Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA).

Previously (2009-2013), Jakub was the Head of Unit for Organised Crime and Relations with EMCDDA at the European Commission’s Directorate-General Home Affairs. Previously, he worked on EU relations with Russia (Directorate-General External Relations). Before joining the European Commission, he was a Director at the Stefan Batory Foundation in Warsaw and before that, a Policy Officer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics and the University of Warsaw (international relations, law).

Ole is deputy Director General for Innovation and Technology Policy at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany.

As Deputy Director General “Innovation and Technology Policy”, Ole oversees the following topics: General issues of national and international innovation and technology policy; Accreditation and conformity assessment; Supervision of the Federal Institute for Material Research and Testing (BAM) and the German National Metrology Institute (PTB); Industrial research for companies and innovation guidance for SME; Central Innovation Programme for SME (ZIM) and Innovation Cluster Policy: ZIM-Cooperation (R&D projects between companies or companies and research and technology organizations), ZIM-Networks (network management, R&D cooperation projects) and the go-cluster programme (stimulus to improve cluster management and help turn German clusters into highly effective international clusters). Previously, Ole served at the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport of Lower Saxony and as Director at the State Chancellery of Lower Saxony.

Ole graduated in economics at Hannover University. He had been an Academic assistant at the chair for economics at Greifswald University and he holds a PhD in economics.

Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė is the AgriFood Lithuania Cluster Manager. The organisation was established as a cluster in 2011, and the digital innovation hub (DIH) was later built on its foundation. In 2020, the European Commission highlighted the AgriFood Lithuania DIH as one of two good practice examples of European sectorial DIHs in the JRC science policy report. In March 2021, AgriFood Lithuania achieved the status of EIT FOOD Hub in Lithuania.

Kristina is the Lithuania Cluster Network Managing Director. 57 Lithuanian clusters are members of the association. Uniting 777 business enterprises, Lithuanian Clusters Network is the largest organisation of its kind in Lithuania. Kristina is an experienced cluster manager. She has vast experience in product development and innovation managing, working with research and development and implementation, information technologies and services, and ICT products on a cross-sectoral basis. She is studying for a PhD in Economics at the Institute of Economics and Rural Development of the Lithuanian Center for Social Sciences. Her scientific area of interest evaluates the effectiveness of the industries' twin transition – digitalisation and the Green Deal – in the EU Member States.

She has more than 12 years of experience as an international digitalisation expert in national and international working groups. Since 2021 she has been Chair of the Agri-Food and Bioeconomy Committee and of the Labour, Social Policy and Human Resources Committee at the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists, the biggest association of business in Lithuania. In July 2022 she was appointed as Vice-Chair of the Food and Agriculture Committee at Business at OECD (BIAC). She is a speaker at many national and international events on the twin transition in the EU. She is an active promoter of the clusters and DIH's close collaboration in the creation of the ecosystems which transform sectors.

Director of Strategic Foresight and International Relations at Biocat, The BioRegion of Catalonia.

PhD in Molecular Biology, MSc Science Communication, MA Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs. Research track in Life Sciences (1987-1999) in Barcelona, France, and USA.

Former advisor on R&I and International Affairs for the Government of Catalonia (Department for Research and Universities) (2011-2022). Science editor (2000-2006), co-director of the First School on Research Impact Assessment in Catalonia, Spain (2018). Member of Biocat team since its foundation (2006-2011 and 2021-present).

President of the Council of European BioRegions (CEBR); Member of the Board of Directors of the European Clusters Alliance (ECA); Member of the Joint Industrial Cooperation Forum of Health Emergency and Preparedness Agency (HERA) of the European Commission; Mentor and Evaluator for EIT Health Innostars. Coordinator of EU-funded projects.

Dr. Ketels is a global expert on economic competitiveness, strategy, and cluster-based economic development. He recently left Harvard Business School, where he served as a faculty member and Principal Associate at Prof. Michael Porter’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness since 2000. He is a Director and Co-Chair of the Innovation Fund Denmark, a Senior Advisor of the House of Governance at the Stockholm School of Economics, and chairs the Advisory Board of the TCI Network and the Scientific Advisory Board of Orkestra, the Basque Institute for Competitiveness. He was recently appointed as a special advisor to European Commission VP Dombrovskis on competitiveness issues.

Mercedes Delgado is Associate Professor of Strategy and Innovation at Copenhagen Business School (CBS), and a Research Affiliate at MIT. She teaches strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship courses at the Master's and executive levels, and leads the MBA Entrepreneurship Concentration at CBS. Delgado examines the role of regional industry clusters in job creation, innovation, entrepreneurship, inclusivity, and resilience. She has developed new methods for defining and mapping industry clusters and the supply chain economy. This work provides frameworks and tools to help firms and practitioners create regional and national innovation strategies. Her recent work explores the organizational and locational drivers of the inventor gender gap. Delgado’s work has been published in top economic, policy, strategy, and science journals. She has received several prestigious grants, including a recent National Science Foundation grant on Mapping the Inventor Gender Gap. She served as a lead researcher on the US Cluster Mapping Project.

Website: www.cbs.dk/en/staff/mdsi. LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mercedes-delgado-b7040621/

Antonio Novo leads at the forefront of collaborative innovation as the President of the European Cluster Alliance (ECA). With a unique blend of expertise in technology and psychology, Antonio champions the advancement of clusters as dynamic engines of economic growth and innovation. Under his leadership ECA, joining 900 clusters, has become a pivotal platform for fostering collaboration among clusters across Europe, proactively contributing to the European industrial policies.

In addition to steering the ECA, Antonio serves as the Managing Director of Cluster IDiA, an Aragonese consortium of 81 companies and institutions committed to digital innovation. His strategic vision here further exemplifies his dedication to leveraging collective intelligence and innovation for sectoral development.

Antonio's advisory prowess is acknowledged through his active participation in several European Commission expert groups. He is curator of the EU Industrial Forum's Task Force 2, supporting the development and implementation of the EU Industrial Pathways. His insights also extend to Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3), Interregional Innovation Investments (I3), and the Industry 5.0 Community of Practice, where his contributions shape future-oriented industrial strategies. Moreover, from his role in the High-Level Working Group on European Digital Innovation Hubs (eDIHs), Antonio plays a role in guiding digital transformation in Europe.

With a holistic approach to innovation and a keen eye on the future of industry, Antonio Novo stands as a key figure in driving collaborative success and industrial progress across the continent.

Elisabetta Bracci heads the Emilia-Romagna Region's Service Innovation Clust-ER, an association of public and private bodies dedicated to enhancing the region's competitiveness in the ICT sector.

The ongoing efforts of the Service Innovation Clust-ER to promote an ethical and sustainable approach to digital transformation are reflected in its claim to “people, skills and technologies leveraging digital transformation”.

Elisabetta is a consultant, lecturer and keynote speaker specializing in Smart Services and Smart Buildings. She is committed to creating value in private and public services through innovation and digitalization, so that progress, well-being, sustainability and profit can intersect synergistically, with a steadfast commitment to gender inclusion.

Alongside her role at Service Innovation Clust-ER, Elisabetta serves as coordinator of the technical committee of the National Authority for Digital Transformation - E.N.T.D.®, and has participated as a delegate of the Order of Engineers of Bologna in the UNI/CT 025 work table of the Italian Standards Authority UNI for four years. In 2017 she founded the consulting network JUMP Facility.

Website: https://innovate.clust-er.it/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elisabetta-bracci-smart-service/

Silvia Brembati has a Master's degree in Product Service System Design and is specialized in the areas of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Social Impact and Engagement.

Since 2022, she has been part of the Lombardy Energy Cleantech Cluster, focusing on managing and implementing European projects, as well as facilitating the internationalization of the cluster’s members.

Elise Descamps is program manager for imec.istart, imec's open acceleration program on a mission to scale tech startups. She worked in different roles at imec, joining the imec.istart team in 2016 for the day-to-day coaching of startups and scaleups. Based on previous professional experiences at Barco and DPG Media, her domain focus is on media and entertainment.

Erasmia Dupenloup heads Minalogic, the digital transformation cluster for France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Minalogic is a key player for digital excellence and innovation in its region, serving French economic competitiveness. The Minalogic cluster and the regional digital ecosystem possess powerful assets to tackle France’s strategic challenges of national sovereignty and reindustrialization.

Erasmia first joined Minalogic in 2012, as Director, Business Development. She has contributed to developing the cluster’s expertise in bringing together large corporations, startups and SMEs to facilitate business opportunities and partnerships, leading Minalogic to be a key player in Open Innovation. She is also in charge of the defense market and more specifically is in charge of the partnership with the French Ministry of Defense, which includes a very important topic on cybersecurity.

In addition to her role as CEO of Minalogic, she also chairs the Silicon Europe Alliance, which brings together 12 European clusters with a common ambition: to strengthen the European digital and microelectronics industry by fostering cross-fertilization among the 2000 members of their ecosystems.

Minalogic by nature and Erasmia with her triple nationality are experienced in international and multi-cultural collaborations. Erasmia implemented open innovation on a European scale within the Silicon Europe Alliance, demonstrating the added value of a meta-cluster like Silicon Europe Alliance.

Moreover, in 2024, the Silicon Europe Alliance partners will be committed to structuring Competence Centres in semiconductors, and disseminating the work of the IPCEI ME/CT across Europe as part of the Chips for Europe initiative.

Carolina works with spearheading initiatives at the convergence of technology, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development. With a keen interest in fostering innovation, she focuses on initiatives aimed at addressing global societal challenges, igniting economic growth, and fostering social impact.

Through strategic partnerships and collaborative initiatives, Carolina has played a pivotal role in fostering environments conducive to creativity, experimentation, and growth. At Clusters of Sweden, The National Association of Swedish Clusters, Carolina is in charge of the development and implementation of the strategy and objectives of the National Association under guidance of the Board, as well as, defining future initiatives, and facilitating cooperation within the Swedish innovation ecosystem and establishing collaborations with partners in the European Union and globally.

Clusters of Sweden represents 24 clusters from diverse industries and geographical locations across Sweden. The primary objective of the Association is to bolster cluster development and cultivate collaborative environments, serving as catalysts for the economic growth and competitiveness of swedish regions.

At the Swedish Tech cluster Mobile Heights, Carolina leads two key areas: Skills and Talent Supply, as well as Internationalization. Her work encompasses EU and National projects, including those focused on cluster development, innovation ecosystems, digital transformation, smart cities, among others.

Previously, Carolina served as legal counsel for the public sector, facilitating the implementation of public-private partnerships for large-scale infrastructure projects. Additionally, she has played a pivotal role in shaping public policy to attract investment and enhance entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Carolina holds a law degree, a Master’s in EU Economic and Commercial Law from Lausanne University and a Master’s in  Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Lund University.

Barbara has more than 25 years of experience in the Canadian public service, with a career that spans policy, program management and corporate roles at several departments, including the Finance and transportation ministries. She is currently Director General at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, responsible for the Global Innovation Clusters program. The program is investing nearly $2B in federal funding to support five not-for-profit Clusters, which are charged with building ecosystems of competitive advantage for Canada. To learn more, please visit: Global Innovation Clusters.

From 2017-2019, Barbara served as Director, Innovation at Rideau Hall Foundation, an independent charity founded by the Right Honourable David Johnston during his mandate as Governor General. In this role, she led a suite of activities to support a culture of innovation in Canada, with programs to connect, cultivate and celebrate Canada innovators.

Barbara is married and has two daughters.

Adeline GLEIZAL is as specialist of EU and innovation projects and is currently working at SAFE Cluster, a French-based innovation cluster focused on aerospace, defence and security.

She previously had different roles at the French ministry of foreign affairs and for the French ministry of interior, working in international cooperation and collaborative projects.

Since 2021, she has now been supporting SAFE Cluster’s ecosystem (500+ members) in developing their R&D projects through EU-funding and coordinates EU projects on behalf of the cluster.

Ander González is graduated as Mines and Energy Engineer at UPV/EHU and has a Master of Sustainable Energy Engineering.

He has worked in the Basque Energy Cluster since 2015, developing the strategic surveillance system of the organisation, being part of the team in numerous R&D and international cluster projects. Since 2022, he is the International Activities Manager of the Basque Energy Cluster, and in charge of the correct development and organisation of international activities inside the cluster.

Louise Gubanski is an International Project Manager for the German cluster Ecoliance RLP e.V. based in Rhineland-Palatinate. She has a master's degree in cluster and regional network management and has been working on the regional and international development of Ecoliance for more than four years now. Ecoliance RLP e.V. is the environmental technology network in Rhineland-Palatinate. Its some 70 members are companies, universities, chambers of commerce, associations, and research institutions interested in the exchange of GreenTech experience.

Since 2021, Louise Gubanski is mainly responsible for euWater4i-SD, in which Ecoliance RLP e.V. is a partner. This European cluster partnership for Going International is a project co-funded by the EU for three years. Together with four other European clusters in the consortium (ACLIMA, AquaValley, CREA Hydro&Energy and Green Synergy Cluster), Ecoliance RLP e.V. develops and implements an internationalization strategy for European SMEs with two main target areas: Latin America and Eastern Africa.

Vladimir Gumilar holds a Master of Science in Construction extended by Ljubljana University (Slovenia), and MBA extended by the University of Kansas (USA).

Since 2004 he has been the cluster manager of CONSTRUCTION CLUSTER OF SLOVENIA. In the REGCON project, he developed the ICM333 methodology for the development of innovation clusters in construction. He was a coordinator of the STOREPET, FP7 project, and COSME project European Circular Construction Alliance. He is a cluster manager strongly networked in the EU clusters` community, supporting CCS to be involved in ESCP4i (ECCA), ESCP3S (Cyber Secure Light), and ESCP4X (SMART4NZEB). He is the initiator of the International Circular Construction Cluster (ICCC) initiative. Currently, he coordinates the ICBUILD ESCP4i partnership aiming at internationalisation of circular construction solutions and AEC EUROCLUSTER.

Victor Haze has been working in ICT, project- & process management roles for almost 30 years. He engaged with customers and organizations within Finance, Energy, Oil & Gas, Governments and Healthcare. He worked as a Business consultant for Atos KPMG Consulting and was advisor to the Board of Directors in hospital. In 2014 he started working in a Life Sciences & Health cluster role as Innovation Manager. From 2020-2022 he acted in the role of International Ecosystem Director.

Victor is currently working as an independent consultant for (eco)systemic design. Always looking to align the strategies of the stakeholders within the ecosystem using workshop settings, applying a common language from visual thinking tool sets. His most recent assignment was a 18 month ecosystemic journey with more than a dozen European health & care systems. Nowadays he works on the ecosystem of the High Tech industry and semiconductors in the Netherlands.

Within this role he is responsible for developing the ecosystem of the Laser Satellite Communication domain in the National Growth Fund program.

He is a Master Trainer and Global coach of Strategy Tools, a truly global community, where he focuses on the development of the paradigm shift of Triple Helix towards a pentagram Supercluster. He has been working on this puzzle with Christian Rangen since 2019.

When not working he can be found on a bike riding up a mountain.

Andrey Kolodyuk is a serial entrepreneur and venture capital investor. He started his entrepreneurial career in New York in 1992 and eventually has founded and built over 10

companies in IT, telecom, internet, media and some with $1 Billion in revenues.He became a pioneer of venture investments business and launched first Aventures VC

fund in Ukraine in 2001.Later he became a cofounder of US-Ukraine technology transfer center with a focus on commercialization of dual use technologies in airspace,nanotech,cybersecurity and other areas. In 2012 the new VC fund was launched with a focus on Ukrainian founders that building global companies leveraging R&D in Ukraine.

AVentures Capital portfolio (http://aventurescapital.com/pr...) consists of more than 15 companies such as Petcube, Augmented Pixels, nuPSYS, Bookimed, Spin.io, Teamfusion, Ciklum and others. In August 2014 Andrey has initiated a foundation of UVCA (Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association UVCA.eu) and in November, 2014 was selected as Chairman of the board he is currently serving.

Andrey was elected as Young Global Leader (from Ukraine) of the World Economic Forum www.youggloballeaders.org in 2088 and initiated Ukraine House Davos www.ukrainehousedavos.com/fron.../ in 2017 to promote investments and tech cooperation.

In February 2022 he became a cofounder of FreeUkraine NGO www.freeukraine.foundation registered in Belgium together with Belgian and Ukrainian colleagues.

Andrey Kolodyuk graduated from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute and studied law at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. In 2005, he defended his PhD thesis: "Information Society: Modern Condition and Perspectives of Development in Ukraine" with the speciality "Political Culture and Ideology"

Anaïs is a specialist in international research and innovation management, and currently work as Managing Director in the Council of European Bioregions, the cluster association in Lifesciences in Europe.

I have co-created a social innovation company called Cliclab, in which social impact, transformative processes for companies, teams and people are at the core of our mission. We work for societal change, through the push for innovation at all levels.
I also work as a consultant related to research assessment and project implementation. I have worked in many different research fields such as Health, Information and Communication Technologies, International Cooperation, and Innovation. I hold a Business Administration degree from the University of Montreal Business School HEC, with specialization in Marketing and International management. Established in Barcelona since 2001, I have been working as an International Research Advisor for different large institutions.

Frederik Loeckx is Managing Director of Flux50. Flux50 is the membership organization that helps Flanders gain international recognition as a Smart Energy Region. Flux50 facilitates cross-sector collaboration between energy, IT and building companies to enhance the competitiveness of the Flemish smart energy industry in the transition towards low carbon systems. Frederik graduated in 1996 as electrical engineer at the University of Leuven. He worked as advisor on innovation strategy and innovation projects at the Flemish government.

In 2006, Frederik Loeckx founded Triphase, a spin-off of the university of Leuven, operating internationally with research systems for smart energy systems and grew the company to 16 people on own accounts. Up to 2016, Frederik was CEO of the company and he still is member of the board of the company. On behalf of Triphase, Frederik was member of the board of Flux50 for 6 years, as well as present in several innovation advisory groups in Flanders.

Andrew Lynch is the Chief Innovation Officer at IMR (www.imr.ie)

He is a member of the EFFRA Made in Europe Partnership Board, and the international Vice President of the EUREKA SMART Manufacturing Board of Directors. Andrew is a member of the ManuFuture High Level Group (HLG) and chairs the ManuFuture ETP Working Group (State Aid Strategies- Research & Innovation). He is also on the Academic Advisory Board of the UKs Smart Manufacturing Digital Hub (SMDH).

In Ireland, Andrew is on the Board of Directors of the Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre of Excellence (AMTEC), as well as on the Ingenuity and ATiM Cluster Executive Steering Committees. He is the founding chair of the Irish National Steering Committee on Collaborative Robotics, and a founding member of the National Advisory Board for the Digital Manufacturing Futures Centre (AIM) and the Board of the FutureCAST Technology Centre on Construction.

Andrew is a contributing expert on several key international policy directives for manufacturing, including the ManuFuture policy document (Vision 2030), the EFFRA Made in Europe program, ManuFuture ETP Strategic Working Group Initiatives, the ECSEL LIASE I4 Whitepaper on the Future of Manufacturing and the ECS SRA (Electronic Components & Systems, Strategic Research Agenda).

He holds an honours Degree in Biochemistry, a first class Masters in Environmental Analytical Chemistry, a PhD in Engineering, and is happily married with two adored daughters.

Bianca Muntean, Honorary Consul of Estonia, is co-founder and cluster manager Transilvania IT, with over 25 years of experience in creating and developing innovation ecosystems. She is the coordinator and founder of Transilvania Digital Innovation Hub, the first digital innovation center in Romania recognized as operational by the European Commission and selected in the European Digital Innovation Hubs network, as well as the coordinator of the Association of Digital Innovation Centres in Romania RO-DIH.

Bianca Muntean is known as one of the most relevant stakeholder in the region and in the country in the field of innovation, digitization and technology, being appointed Consul of the Republic of Estonia in Cluj, for the counties of Alba, Bihor, Bistrița-Năsăud, Cluj, Maramureș, Mureș, Sălaj and Satu Mare. She is a member of several Advisory Groups and Councils dealing with innovation and digital transformation at local, regional, national and international level.

She was awarded the title of EU Cluster Manager of the Year for 2019 by DG GROW, European Commission and is involved in coordinating cross-sector collaborations across Europe. Bianca is also a recipient of the 2017 Open Innovation Award from the Open Innovation Strategy and Policy Group, European Commission.

Bianca Muntean strongly believes that the power of collaboration can generate systemic change in the economy and society.

Alberto is an Italian economist with over 25 years of experience in cluster policy and regional competitiveness. After almost a decade in the private sector as a strategic consultant, he joined ACCIÓ, the competitiveness agency of the Catalan government, where he is currently responsible for cluster policy.

In his trajectory at international level, he has been committed to cluster excellence from the very beginning, participating in the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (2009-2011) and becoming ESCA gold expert and faculty member of the European Foundation for Cluster Excellence.

In the past years he has been involved in three EC expert groups and he has been an advisor on cluster policy to several governments including Norway, Slovenia, Portugal and Hungary.

As part of his pro-bono activity, Alberto was one of the promoters of TCI Network in 1998 and after having held various responsibilities on the Board of Directors including the presidency, in 2019 he was appointed member of the TCI Board of Advisors.

Annie Renders is head of the Cluster Policy unit and responsible for strategic relations at Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO). She is member of the board of directors at VLAIO. VLAIO is part of the Flemish Government.

In 2000, Annie joined the Flemish Agency for Innovation, since 2016 integrated in Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She has been involved in the coordination of the regional innovation eco-system, in the monitoring of innovation policy in Flanders and more recently in the development, implementation and coordination of the Flemish Cluster policy.

Annie studied Chemistry at the University of Leuven, and obtained a PhD in 1990. Up to 2000, she worked at Solvay S.A. where she was Application Development Manager for the ‘Hydrogen Peroxide’ business unit.

Fernando Riaza is an Economist and Policy Analyst at the OECD's Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions, and Cities. For the past five years, he has been involved in the OECD Mining Regions and Cities Initiative, where he has developed case studies, regional profiles, and policy frameworks to support the 38 OECD member countries. His recent work includes a significant OECD-DG Reform project aimed at enhancing regional ecosystems within the EU to support the green transition and secure the supply of mineral raw materials, while improving the well-being of citizens in mining regions.

Fernando has contributed to numerous OECD reports, including rural policy and territorial reviews of Colombia, Korea, and Ukraine among others. His role includes designing evidence-based policy recommendations for governments at the national and subnational levels that enhance economic resilience and promote sustainable development from economic, social, and environmental perspectives.

Thomas Röhr is Secretary General of the European Automotive Cluster Network EACN. In this role, Thomas animates and develops the network, ensures communication, heads working groups, and represents the network in European and other events.

EACN is the leading network of automotive clusters on the European continent. It started as an initiative of an ESCP-S3 project in 2019. Today, 30 clusters from 15 countries join forces to boost competitiveness of their members and the automotive industry at a whole, and to excel in cluster management through cluster exchanges, joint actions and services, and close collaboration and mutual support in EU co-funded projects.

In the past, Thomas was also member of the ECCP Sounding Board and gained significant experience in the development and conduction of European co-funded projects as consultant for the French competitivity cluster Pôle Véhicule du Futur.

Lucia Seel has more than 19 years of experience in international innovation and cluster policies and cluster development/management, having played an active role in several flagship European projects like the European Cluster Excellence Initiative and The European Cluster Observatory. In 2011 Lucia started her own consultancy, focusing on the development and/or management of European projects, support for international cooperation in the field of innovation and clustering related to gender equality, cultural and creative industries as well as focusing on capacity building and international networking. Between 2019-2022 she was member of the European Cluster Expert Group of the European Commission (DG GROW).

Currently she is the project manager of the Interrreg Europe project DEBUTING, coordinated by Region Värmland.

Lucia was between 09/2015-06/2020 the Communication, Community and Content Manager of the European Cluster Collaboration Platform, an initiative of DG GROW. Between 2016-2017 she was Communication and Community Manager of the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platforms (Research & Innovation and SME competitiveness) and between 2015-2017 worked for the community building of the global Creative Business Network.

Lucia is a well-known speaker and moderator at international conferences and workshops, with a large record of presentations and moderations. In April 2012 she set up the Cluster Women European Network (ClusterWene), an entrepreneurial initiative to strengthen women’s position in the cluster community. Lucia is an evaluator of the EC in the COSME programme and certified ESCA Cluster Benchmarking Expert and Gold Label Assessor. She is a guest lecturer for Communication for Cluster Managers at the University of Strasbourg. Lucia is Austrian, but Romanian born and speaks 6 languages.

As an active international person Lucia was founder and the first president of AIESEC in Romania and is now member of several large networks like TCI - The Competitiveness Institute Global Network, EWMD – European Women Management Development Network for which she acted between 2019-2023 as National Representative for Austria in the International Board.

Lucia graduated magna cum laude from the Academy of Economic Sciences in Bucharest/Romania. She worked both for multinational companies such as Saatchi & Saatchi Centrade in Bucharest and Silhouette International in Linz/Austria (as area manager for South-East Asia and South Europe handling a sales budget of more than 30 Mio. Euro), as well as for small companies in Austria and public administration bodies in Austria and Romania.

Olga, as the Executive Director of Kharkiv IT Cluster, brings over 17 years of experience in C-level roles across various sectors. Under her leadership Kharkiv IT Cluster united 310+ members and partners, in order to develop an ecosystem for technology business.

Over the last 6 years, with a background in finance, international marketing, and an MBA degree, Olga has spearheaded 70+ projects in the Ukrainian technology business ecosystem. She unites top Ukrainian IT firms, universities, and authorities to tackle industry challenges and boost economic growth. Initiatives under her leadership include educational programs in 60+ Ukrainian universities, business events, and cluster services for Ukrainian IT companies. Olga was also actively involved in the Diia City project implementation, acting in cooperation with other clusters, associations and the Ministry of digital transformation of Ukraine.

Dr Heikki Sirviö is an expert on regional development and policy. He currently works in public administration as the Regional Development Manager at the Regional Council of Pohjois-Savo in Finland. Finnish Regional Councils are municipally owned and act as regional development and planning authorities. Heikki’s responsibilities include preparing and supervising The Regional Strategic Plan and the Regional Programme, as well as the management of forecasting and regional statistics services. He also facilitates research, development, and innovation activities and cooperates with educational institutions and international partners.

The Pohjois-Savo region has relied on cluster and ecosystem frameworks in organizing its economic development efforts, networking of key industries (machinery and mechanical engineering; energy technology; forest industry; and agri-food), and supporting emerging industries (bio and circular economy, health, and smart water systems). There are currently nine active clusters or ecosystems, five of which are recognized on in the European Cluster Collaboration Platform.

Heikki is interested in addressing how a region with numerous small and medium-sized enterprises can enhance business performance through clusters. He addresses how regional authorities and development organizations can support clusters through all transformation phases and ecosystems in sparsely populated regions.

Heikki’s academic background is in International Relations (Masters) and Political Geography (PhD). He has an extensive experience in academic research, lecturing, and publishing at the University of Oulu and the University of Helsinki. His work has been published in leading journals of political geography on topics such as state spatial transformation, city-regionalism, bioeconomy, and education.

Ola Svedin is the CEO of Mobile Heights, the tech cluster organisation in Southern Sweden, and serves as the Chairperson of Clusters of Sweden, the national Swedish cluster association. With a deep commitment to advancing society's digital transformation, Ola has been instrumental in doubling the size of Mobile Heights under his leadership. He also oversees DigIT Hub Sweden, one of four European Digital Innovation Hubs in the country. Bringing over 25 years of experience in telecom, IT security, smart cards, biometrics, and the space industry, Ola has led significant development programs in mobile phones and chipsets. As an inventor and former R&D Director at a leading fingerprint technology startup, he has been a pioneer in the biometrics field.

Alain Tubiana is an internationally renowned expert in cluster management and collaborative innovation for over 30 years.

He has carried out around a hundred international assignments on these subjects in over 22 countries for the German (GIZ) and French (AFD) cooperations, as well as the World Bank, IFAD(UN) and the EU, supporting the emergence of more than 20 cluster initiatives. He has trained more than 250 cluster managers in professional training and has intervened on several occasions for governments on cluster policy issues. Alongside his consultancy work, Alain is head of the only existing Master's programme in Europe on the subject of clusters and innovative ecosystems at the University of Strasbourg.

Previously Alain was cluster manager in the IT sector for nine years. After an initial career devoted to political communication and major regional planning projects, his first consultancy assignments in the 1990s led him to work on technology park projects such as Sophia Antipolis extensions. Alain has been member of the DG Grow Cluster Expert Group, board member of France Clusters for 10 years (2009-2019).

Véronique Willems serves as Secretary General of SMEunited, the association of Crafts and SMEs in Europe, as of 2017. SMEunited stands for 65 SME organisations – national crosssectoral and European sector federations – from over 30 European countries.

With 25 years of experience in advocacy at local, regional, national and European level, Ms Willems builds on several years of counselling and mentoring SMEs and uses their everyday life as a basis to shape an SME-friendly business environment. Veronique holds a law degree and a master’s degree in commercial sciences/business management.