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John Higgins, CBE
Secretary General, DIGITALEUROPE

John Higgins was appointed Director General of DIGITALEUROPE, the association for the digital technology industry in Europe, in November 2011 following nine years leading its UK member association, Intellect. After graduating from the University of East Anglia with an honours degree in Mathematics and then gaining a post graduate Diploma in Accounting and Finance, John began a career in IT. He trained as a systems analyst, held senior positions with Ernst & Young and worked in Chicago with leading software company SSA. In 1995 he was appointed CEO of the Rocket Networks, a California based that provided the world’s first online recording studios. He returned to the UK in 1998 and became Director General of the Computing Services and Software Association, one of Intellect’s predecessors. John is a member of the governing body of the University of Warwick and recent chair of its audit committee. John is President of the European Commission’s Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Entrepreneurship and was recently elected to the Board of the European Internet Foundation. John’s other recent committee chair roles include the cross industry association council of the CBI, a government/industry space committee and the global policy action committee of the World IT Services Association, WITSA. He was board member of e-skills, the UK’s digital sector skills council and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He was presented with two personal awards for outstanding contributions; first to the association sector in 2004 and then to the IT industry in 2008. The Queen appointed him a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005 for his services to the UK IT industry.

Slawomir Tokarski
Director, European Commission DG GROW

Slawomir Tokarski obtained PhD degree at the European University Institute in Florence in 1995. He joined the Polish administration and headed a team co-ordinating the preparations for the accession negotiations and preparing policy analysis for the Chief Negotiator. In 2004 he joined the Commission as a Cabinet member of the Commissioner responsible for the regional policy. In 2009 he was nominated Head of Unit dealing with economic policy and co-ordination of EU funding in DG MARE. In March 2012 he became a Head of Defence, Aeronautics and Maritime industries in DG Enterprise. Since 2015 Mr Tokarski became Acting Director, Dir F “Innovation and Advanced manufacturing” (DG GROW) and Head of Unit “Innovation Policy and Investment To Growth”. On 16th February 2016 Mr Slawomir Tokarski is appointed as Director, Dir F “Innovation and Advanced manufacturing” (DG GROW).

Prof. Jan Willem Velthuijsen
Partner PwC Economics Europe, PwC

As Chief Economist of PwC Europe, Jan Willem is responsible for PwC’s thought leadership and research in the field of megatrends. He is managing partner of PwC Strategy & Economics in Amsterdam since 1999 and specialises in macroeconomics, finance, strategy & risk, market and demand analysis, competition & regulation economics, econometrics, modelling and complex valuations. Jan Willem is Professor of Economics at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. Jan Willem has over 25 years of experience with advising companies, governments, regulators and international institutions on value chain analyses and holds a strong record in various technology industries.

Martin Canning
Group Vice-President European Consulting, IDC

Based in IDC's Amsterdam office Martin Canning holds the position of group vice president, European Consulting. In this role he manages IDC's consulting and custom research business in Western Europe and is responsible for the successful delivery of client projects across all areas of IDC's IT markets coverage. His organization works closely with IDC's clients to understand their specific needs and requirements and to tailor solutions to support their business objectives. Previously he was responsible for IDC's software and IT services research in Europe, and has 17 years' experience with IDC covering all aspects of the software and IT services markets. He has also held the position of regional manager of IDC Benelux, where he was responsible for the complete range of IDC's activities in this region. He is a regular speaker and facilitator at high-level conferences, events, and dinners, covering a broad range of topics related to the use of ICT investments to improve overall business efficiency. Martin Canning joined IDC in October 1996. Previous to this he spent over 9 years at Lucent Technologies Network Systems (formerly AT&T Network Systems). During his time at Lucent Technologies he held various positions including Bids and Proposals management for activities in the Russian market and Product Management responsibilities for international markets He was a member of the International Customer Business Management Group responsible for the definition and implementation of Lucent Technologies market strategy in international network access markets. Mr. Canning holds a bachelors degree in Electronic Engineering from Dublin City University (Dublin, Ireland).

Nicolas Schmit
Minister of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, Luxembourg

Nicolas Schmit was born on 10 December 1953 in Differdange. Following secondary school studies, Nicolas Schmit pursued higher education studies at the Institut d’études politiques of Aix-en-Provence, from which he graduated with a Master of Arts in 1977 and a DEA (post-graduate diploma of advanced studies) in international relations in 1978. He was also awarded a doctorate in economics from the Faculty of Law and Economics of Aix-Marseille in 1982. Following the legislative elections of 13 June 2004, Nicolas Schmit joined the government as Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Immigration on 31 July 2004. Upon the return of the coalition government formed by the Christian Social Party (CSV) and the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party (LSAP) as a result of the legislative elections of 7 June 2009, Nicolas Schmit was appointed Minister of Labour, Employment and Immigration on 23 July 2009. Following the legislative elections of 20 October 2013, Nicolas Schmit was appointed Minister of Labour, Employ¬ment and the Social and Solidarity Economy on 4 December 2013 in the coalition government formed by the Democratic Party (DP), the LSAP and the Green Party (“déi gréng”).

Werner B. Korte
Director, empirica GmbH

Werner B. Korte shares the directorship of empirica with Simon Robinson and is responsible for managing many large-scale international research and development and consulting projects in relation to the new forms of work and employment, e-Skills, monitoring and benchmarking the information society, demographic change and ageing, ICT services for energy saving in social housing and public buildings and other topic areas for different DGs of the European Commission (DG INFSO, ENTR, EAC, EMPL), the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, IPTS, national ministries, federal and regional governments and ministries in Germany, other European countries, in Qatar and global IT industry players like Cisco or Microsoft. In the e-skills domain Werner was the project coordinator of studies on monitoring and forecasting e-skills demand and supply, benchmarking, studies on policies on multi-stakeholder partnerships for e-skills in Europe quality labelling and responsible for the development of several executive briefings for Cisco Systems and another e-skills forecasting project for the ING Belgique Bank, working on the initiatives ‘European Guidelines and Quality Labels for e-Leadership Curricula’ and ‘e-Leadership skills for SMEs’ all for the European Commission and currently coordinating the service contract ‘Leadership skills for digital and key enabling technologies in Europe’.

Tobias Hüsing
Senior Research Consultant, empirica GmbH

As a senior research consultant, Tobias Hüsing helps clients understand the changing skills landscape during the digital transformation we see both at macro and micro level. Tobias has been doing and leading research in the area of skills and work for more than 10 years including studies about digital skills and future skills creation, the digital transformation of SMEs, digital entrepreneurship, IT labour market scenarios and forecasts, innovation and knowledge transfer co-operation and policies, and the socio-economic impact of ICT. Tobias’ interest is especially in empirical and quantitative data based research and policy consultancy for clients such as the European Commission, other government and (IT) industry clients. Tobias has been responsible for developing several large scale cross-country surveys, he is the author of several indices and indicator scoreboards and contributed to a number of observatories. Tobias has repeatedly authored and presented digital labour market forecasts, building on the major technological, social, education, labour market and demographic trends.

Dr. Kristina Dervojeda
Senior Manager Innovation & Development, PwC

Dr. Kristina Dervojeda specialises in policy research in the fields of innovation and emerging technologies, with a particular focus on skills. Specific topics of interest include skills for Key Enabling Technologies and leadership skills for high-tech and liberal professions. Kristina leads PwC Innovation Research Centre (IRC). Kristina has been and is involved in various multi-country assignments for the European Commission in a role of Project Manager and Senior Expert. Examples include “Vision and Sectoral Pilot for Skills on Key Enabling Technologies”, for DG GROWTH, “Study on Skills related to KETs” for DG RTD, and “Promotion of e-Leadership Skills in Europe” for EASME of the European Commission. Kristina holds a PhD degree in Innovation Management. Her PhD research focused on business-academia collaboration networks in the fields of nano- and biotechnology. Kristina received a title of PwC Woman of the Year 2012.

Mark Lengton
Senior Consultant Innovation & Development, PwC

Mark Lengton is involved in research and evaluation of projects in the fields of innovation policy, knowledge-based clusters and high-tech industry. Prior to his employment at PwC, Mark was employed by the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMA), where he conducted in-depth econometric studies in various fields. Currently, Mark is involved in several prestigious assignments for a number of EU organisations, including “Vision and Sectoral Pilot on Skills for KETs” for DG GROWTH, as well as “Study on skills related to KETs” for DG RTD and “Promotion of e-Leadership Skills in Europe” for EASME.

Freddy Van den Wyngaert
Chairman of the Board, EuroCIO – The European CIO Association and CIO, Agfa ICS

Freddy was 23 years with ExxonMobil Chemical and held various management positions in IT (Infrastructure, Applications) and business (Knowledge Management, Process re-engineering, Business Analyst) in Belgium, France, Europe HQ and HQ in the US. He is with Agfa-Gevaert Group for 16 years (since 09/2000) where he holds the positions of Vice President and CIO with responsibility for Global Shared Service “Agfa ICS” (Information and Communication Services). Freddy is President of EuroCIO (European network of CIO’s), represents CIOforum Belgian Business and is Board member of ADM.

Christian Pagel
Head of Information Technology Management/CIO, ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions

Christian Pagel is Head of Information Technology Management/CIO at ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions in Essen, Germany since 1 March 2014. Together with a team of about 480 employees, Pagel is responsible for the worldwide operation and development of corporate business and technical IT systems, applications and processes. Previously Christian Pagel held further leading positions in different companies. Before joining the ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions AG he became Vice President Corporate Business Systems / CIO at SGL Carbon SE in 2004. Further stations in his career are: • Head of Information Technology and Organisation at SGL Acotec GmbH, • Managing Director at Edding Information technology GmbH, • Head of SAP R/3 Competence Center at Coca Cola Erfrischungsgetränke AG, • Group Project Coordinator SAP R/3 at Berentzen Gruppe AG • Senior Consultant at Deloitte & Touche Germany. Christian Pagel is 51 years old and lives with his family in Bonn.

Rodrigo Miranda Beltrán
General Manager, ISDI Institute for the Internet Development & internetAcademi

Rodrio is the ISDI & internetAcademi General Manager.  His further roles include: IMPACT Accelerator comittee advisor & project mentor, Advisor and Partner at Duelia, Nuubo, Nomaders, Neupic, Reclamador, Key Talent, Wiseri & AlmiraLabs as well asTopSeedsLabs partner, advisor & project mentor.

He is Coordinator of the Social Media Module in the Master in Internet Business, Associate Professor at Instituto de Empresa, MIB, EOI, ESIC-ICEMD, Online Business School, Universidad de Catalunya, UOC and Universidad Pontificia de Comillas.

Previously he was Shackleton Buzz&Press Ex-General Manager and has over 15 years in major responsibility roles in different Internet and Telecommunication companies in Spain and Latin America.

His educational background includes an IESE Executive MBA in 2009, a Telecommunications Engineer from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid,  Telefónica I+D 2005 & Torres Quevedo 2009 National Innovation Award (Premio nacional de Innovación).  He is Chilean, 41 years old, 4 children. Ironman Mallorca 2014, Vitoria 13, Austria 12, Maresme 11 & Trailrunner

Samuli Sirén
Partner and Managing Director, Redstone Digital

Samuli is an entrepreneur who has founded several companies including Redstone. Post-university he started a company syndicating financial data for internet portals and banks. He then founded M&A Boutique Finfortec where he spent several years gaining experience in later stage and buy-out deals. Before becoming the Managing Partner at Redstone he worked for the Klingel Group building their in-house corporate Venture Capital arm which he ran for three years. He moved to Berlin over twenty years ago from Finland and is a passionate diver and golfer.

Dr. Laurent Zibell
Policy Advisor, industriAll European Trade Union

Dr. Laurent Zibell is the Policy Adviser at industriAll European Trade Union in charge of innovation & technology, of white collar workers, of the investment goods sectors (ICT, mechanical engineering, defence), and of the textile, clothing, leather & footwear sector. In this position, he led the development of industriAll Europe's positions on innovation, on digitalisation of industry, and is currently actively involved in reflections on the Circular Economy. He started his career as an R&D engineer in a large electronics firm. He then pursued in the field of high-tech innovation, as an early stage venture capital investor, a consultant in innovation strategy, and the manager of a think-tank dedicated to applied research and industrial innovation. In parallel to his professional activities, he was actively engaged in associations in Germany dealing with European culture and public policies, and is member of the French trade union CFDT. He holds MScs in Engineering from École Polytechnique and from Mines Paristech (France), a Masters in Industrial Economics from Unversité Paris 1 Panthéon - Sorbonne (France) and a PhD in innovation economics from Cranfield University (United Kingdom).

Prof. Dr. Frank Gielen
Director of Education, EIT InnoEnergy

Dr. ir. Frank Gielen has extensive experience with R&D in the telecommuncation and software technology industry as well as with raising venture capital, university-industry cooperative research and spin-off creation. He held a number of technical and management positions in the software industry. 

He started as a software architect at AT&T Labs in the US and was director of software technology at Alcatel. In 1998, he joined Tellium, a US based start-up company in optical network technology as the VP of Software Engineering, which had a successful IPO on NASDAQ in 2001. He returned to Europe that year as the CEO for Tellium EMEA.

Currently, he is professor of software technology entrepreneurship at the University of Ghent. As from 2011, he is Director of the Incubation & Entrepreneurship at iMinds, the leading ICT incubator in Flanders.

Malin Rosqvist
PROMPT initiative leader, Board member, Swedsoft, Project Coordinator, SoftWare Center, University of Mälardalen, Sweden

Malin Rosqvist is a senior project manager within Embedded Systems research at Mälardalen University. Leading the PROMPT initiative, Professional Master in Software Engineering, Malin engages in finding new ways for academia to be a competence provider also for professionals who need to be able to combine work and studies. PROMPT is an educational initiative in cooperation with several academic parties and leading industrial companies and organizations. Together the parties develop advanced level courses in web-based format, tailored to fit professional engineers and software developers. The long-term goal of PROMPT is to guarantee the supply of advanced software competencies and innovativeness in industry.

Malin is also a member of the board of Swedsoft, a non-profit organisation for stakeholders in software intensive systems in Sweden. Further, Malin has a role as Project Coordinator of Software Center at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. In Software Center companies and universities work together to accelerate the adoption of novel approaches to software engineering.

Previous to her present work in academia, Malin held a position as web master and later marketing manager at ABB, working globally with marketing and sales of industrial robots. Malin holds a MA from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and is Certified Project Manager (IPMA, International Project Management Association).

Dr. Oliver Grün
CEO, BITMI, Germany and President, European Digital SME Alliance

Oliver Grün, born in 1969, is the founder, general director and CEO of GRÜN Software AG, as well as President of the Federal Association of ICT-SMEs of Germany (Bundesverband IT-Mittelstand e.V. – BITMI) and President of the European DIGITAL SME Alliance. Since 2013, he is also a member of the Federal Government's IT advisory council, which advises the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology on questions of the digital economy.

In his scientific career Grün graduated as an engineer in 2001, followed up 2 times in the area of business informatics and is the author of various publications for years.

Back in 1989, he founded his software company, which now employs around 100 people at six locations in various companies. Grün is the co-founder of the non-profit organization of the donation platform, now Germany's largest donation portal on the Internet.

Dr. Silvia Leal
Professor of the ICT Department of IE Business School and the Director of Digital Innovation and ICT Programs

Dr. Silvia Leal holds a PhD Cum Laude on Innovation, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) from Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, a Master in e-Business Administration from IE Business School and a Master in Business Administration from Universidad Comercial de Deusto, Groupe Esc-Nantes Atlantique and Bradford University. Today, she is Professor of the ICT Department of IE Business School and the Director of Digital Innovation and ICT Programs offered by IE. Silvia has worked for the following European Commission initiatives: e-Leadership Skills for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, the e-Skills Project and the Digital Entrepreneurship Fórum and she is also a weekly collaborator of the Spanish Local Public TV (RTVE) and Agencia EFE. As a result of her daily work and books, she is recognized as one of the 10 most influential female thinkers in Spain today.

Dr. George Sharkov
National Cybersecurity Coordinator (Security Council, Council of Ministers, Bulgaria), Adviser (Cyber Defense) to the Minister of Defense, Bulgaria, Director ESI CEE (European Software Institute – Center Eastern Europe)

Since September 2014, Dr. Sharkov is an adviser on Cyber Defense for the Minister of Defense, and appointed as a National Cybersecurity Coordinator (“Cyber Czar”) at the Security Council, Government of Bulgaria, responsible for the development of a National cybersecurity strategy and action plan. George graduated Mathematics/Computer Science at Sofia University, obtained his PhD in Artificial Intelligence, with specialization in applied informatics, biophysics, thermography and genetics, enterprise intelligent systems. Since 1994 he was leading international software projects and companies for banking and financial systems, e-business, online markets and innovative e-trading solutions. Since 2003 he is managing ESI - Center Eastern Europe (, the regional excellence center of the European Software Institute (ESI) for Eastern Europe and Caucasus region. George is a qualified trainer and coach in Software Process Improvement (SPI), software engineering quality management (CMMI - CMMI Institute, Carnegie Mellon), IT Mark (ESI) appraiser. George is leading the Cyber Resilience Lab (CyResLab) at ESI CEE, and a research network in cryptography, cybersecurity and resilience. He is lead appraiser (apprentice) with CERT-RMM (Resilience Management Model, CERT/SEI, CMU) and member of NIS Platform of ENISA and the standardization Technical Committee CYBER of ETSI. George is lecturing on software quality and design, cybersecurity and resilient business at 3 leading Bulgarian universities. He leads a Program for modernization of Software Engineering education (SEMP) in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University and 6 Bulgarian universities. He is Vice Chairman of the EC CEN Workshop in ICT-skills and e-competences and among the founders of BASSCOM (Bulgarian Association of Software Companies, also the first Chairman), and the Bulgarian ICT Cluster and a pioneer in new digital ecosystems development, startup and accelerator programs, e-competences and ICT skills standards and initiatives for cyber resilient internet society.

Mika Helenius
General Secretary and Chief Executive of TIVIA

Mika Helenius is the general secretary and chief executive of TIVIA Finland, Infuture think tank, and Computer Science Foundation since 2016. Mr. Helenius has over 20-year experience in international software intensive product and service business. He has been nominated 8th times to the most influential and important person national list. He is the creator and director of business and information systems engineering master’s and executive education as part of EIT Digital and Aalto University. As founder and CEO of the leading digital and software business expanded the business before exit to 100-person software engineering and consulting business.