Meet our Speakers

Morning Keynote: October 9

Koenraad Debackere

Koenraad Debackere is a professor of Technology and Innovation Management and Policy at the Faculty of Economics and Business of KU Leuven. He is managing director of KU Leuven Research and Development, the technology transfer organization of KU Leuven. He chairs the board of Gemma Frisius Fonds, the seed fund of BNP Paribas Fortis, KBC and KU Leuven. He has been a board member of technology startups as well as established companies. He focuses on the technology dimension of corporate governance.


Afternoon Keynote: October 9

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Ulla Engelmann is Head of Unit for Clusters, Social Economy and Entrepreneurship within DG GROW, the Directorate General being responsible for Internal market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, at the European Commission since March 2017. Previously, she worked at the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the in-house science service of European Commission, for many years in different functions. She started in the JRC in Ispra (Italy) in 1993 as a post-doc in fusion research, and moved on to manage various units (communication, international relations, and others) in Ispra and Brussels. Dr Engelmann holds a PhD in analytical and radiochemistry completed at the National Research Centre in Karlsruhe. 


Morning Keynote: October 10


Prof. dr. Elvira Haezendonck is a full-time professor at the Solvay Business School of the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and a part-time professor at the Faculty Business and Economics of the University of Antwerp. She has more than 20 years of expertise in the strategic and policy aspects of competition and the role of infrastructure, as well as the evaluation of port projects and strategies, in particular in the areas of clustering and sustainability. From 2010 to 2018 she was chair holder and co-promoter of the Public-Private Partnership (PPS) Chair at the VUB and since year she leads a chair in Infrastructure Asset Management. Her applied research, including in more than 50 research projects and numerous publications, aims primarily to be practical and policy relevant.


Silvia Lenaerts is Vice rector Valorisation & Development at the University of Antwerp. She acquired hr PhD in Chemistry at IMEC and KULeuven on gas sensors. Formerly she was in charge of the gas sensor development at Heraeus Sensor-Nite and at Seghers Better Technology. She has also been working as lead assessor at Lloyd’s Register of Shipping. She continued as a pioneer by founding the research group DuEL, Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology, part of the Department of Bioscience Engineering at the University of Antwerp. DuEL focuses on photocatalysis, the conversion of photo-energy to chemical or electrical energy and circular air and water technology.

As Vice rector Valorisation & Development she connects the academic world to the business world. She strives towards the implementation of research results into society and vice versa translating the big challenges in society into research projects. Multidisciplinary teams working on projects in a quadruple helix approach in a vibrant ecosystem can create more impact. We want to bridge the gap by initiating open innovation hubs on priority domains, such as renewable energy and sustainable chemistry.