2017 Speakers

George Freeman MP, Member of Parliament for Mid Norfolk and Chair of the Prime Minister's Policy Board, UK

George Freeman was first elected to Parliament for Mid Norfolk in May 2010 after a 15 year career in and around the Cambridge cluster supporting high growth businesses. He was re-elected in 2015 with an increased majority of 17,276.

In July 2014, he was appointed as the first ever UK Minister for Life Sciences at the Department of Health (DH) and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). In the new Prime Minister’s post Referendum reshuffle in July 2016 he left this post to become Chair of the Prime Minister’s new Policy Board.

George is Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum and founder of the 2020 Group of Conservative MPs. He also sits on the advisory board of the think tank Bright Blue. Before entering Government, he served as an active member of the Fresh Start Group of Conservative MPs, leading the Fresh Start enquiry into ‘The impact of the EU in holding back the UK Life Science Sector’ and co-chairing the Fresh Start European Reform Conference, as well as leading the independent campaigns Positive Politics, It Starts Here and Movember in Parliament.

He has written widely for the Times, Sunday Times, Observer, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, Spectator and Conservative Home on the potential of Britain's science and innovation economy to support a sustainable economic recovery and unlock huge trade and inward investment opportunities in fast emerging global markets.

Dr Christian Witt, Senior Program Officer Soil and Health and Value Chain Group Lead Cereals, Agricultural Development, Global Development Program, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USA

Dr. Christian Witt is Senior Program Officer in the Agricultural Development team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He provides strategic direction on innovation in soil health, agronomy, and fertilizer managing a related portfolio of grants aimed at increasing soil fertility and productivity in smallholder farming of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Prior to joining the foundation, he was scientist and project manager in international agricultural research with more than 15 years of experience in plant nutrition and soil nutrient management in the tropics. Witt spent most of his career working in Asia. He was Director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) Southeast Asia based in Singapore and Malaysia from 2004 to 2009 after a long career at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines where he started his Ph.D. research in 1993. Witt holds a doctorate degree in Biology from Justus-von-Liebig University, Germany (1997).

Professor Wim Vanhaverbeke, Professor of Strategy and Innovation Management, University of Hasselt, Belgium

Professor Wim Vanhaverbeke is Professor at the University of Hasselt. He is also visiting professor at ESADE Business School and the National university of Singapore. He published in several international journals such as Organization Science, Research Policy, California Management Review, Journal of Management Studies, Small Business Economics, Journal of Business Venturing, Technovation. He was co-editor with Henry Chesbrough and Joel West of the books “Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm” (OUP, 2006) and “New frontiers in open innovation” (OUP, 2014). 3Open innovation in SMEs” will be published by Cambridge University press end of 2016.

Wim is a dedicated open innovation researcher collaborating with different partners in universities and companies around the globe. His current research is focusing on open innovation in SMEs, innovation ecosystems and on the implementation of open innovation practices. He established the European Innovation Forum with Henry Chesbrough in 2012. He is a frequently asked speaker at leading international conferences and an adviser for several globally operating companies. He consults and organizes workshops for multinationals and technology companies. He was recently recognized by the International Association of Management of Technology (IAMOT) as one of the top 50 authors of technology and innovation management during the period 2008-2012.

Dr Jeni Tennison, CEO, Open Data Institute, UK

Jeni Tennison is the CEO of the Open Data Institute. She originally trained as a psychologist and knowledge engineer, gaining a PhD in collaborative ontology development from the University of Nottingham. She went on to work as an independent consultant and practitioner, specialising in open data publishing and consumption, including XML, JSON and linked data APIs, before joining the Open Data Institute in 2012. She was awarded an OBE for services to technology and open data in the 2014 New Year Honours.

Before joining the ODI, Jeni was the technical architect and lead developer for legislation.gov.uk, which pioneered the use of open data APIs within the public sector, set a new standard in the publication of legislation on the web, and formed the basis of The National Archives’ strategy for bringing the UK’s legislation up to date as open, public data.

Within the wider UK public sector, Jeni worked on the early linked data work on data.gov.uk, helping to engineer new standards for the publication of statistics as linked data; building APIs for geographic, transport and education data; and supporting the publication of public sector organograms as open data. She continues her work within the UK’s public sector as a member of the Open Standards Board.

Jeni has contributed to several international standards through the W3C, working on XSLT and XPath 2.0 within the XSL Working Group and on XProc within the XML Processing.

Dr Roland Harwood, Founder, 100% Open, UK

Roland Harwood is Co-founder and Managing Director of 100%Open, the global open innovation agency that helps with the likes of LEGO, Unilever, UBS, Oxfam and Governments around the world to co-innovate with their partners. 100%Open was a spin-out from NESTA in 2010, the UK Innovation Agency and Investment Fund, where he was Director of Open Innovation. Graduating with a PhD in Physics from Edinburgh University, he has held senior innovation roles in the public and private sector. In addition, he has worked with hundreds of start-ups to raise venture capital and commercialise technology. He is both a failed astronaut and a keen piano player and has produced TV and film music for SonyBMG. Last but not least, he is a proud and often exhausted dad of 3 kids under 10.

Louisa Burwood-Taylor, Editor, AgFunder, USA

Louisa is chief editor of AgFunderNews with over 10 years of financial journalism experience. She has covered a range of financial products and markets during her career, from equity capital markets in Asia to structured bonds in Europe, before turning her attention to agriculture three years ago. She's also been responsible for launching two publications: an institutional investment intelligence service for the Financial Times and the first-ever title focused on private agriculture investment, Agri Investor.

Katrin Burt, Managing Director, Syngenta Ventures, UK

Katrin has been an investment professional with Syngenta Ventures since early 2014 and manages the complete investment process from deal sourcing to portfolio company management and through to exit. Previously Katrin spent ten years as a Partner at Intersouth Partners, a traditional venture capital firm based in the south-eastern US, with $780 million under management. Katrin has served on the board of directors of multiple early stage technology companies and is heavily involved in the entrepreneurial community through local universities and non-profit organizations. Before Intersouth, Katrin spent seven years with HSBC in various trading and business planning roles in London and Tokyo. Katrin holds a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Oxford, an M.B.A. from Duke University and a M.Sc. in Microsystems and Nanotechnology from Cranfield University.

Alessio D'Antino, Co-Founder & CEO, Crowdfooding, UK

Alessio is the co-founder and CEO of Crowdfooding, an equity-based crowdfunding platform for food and beverage-related ventures. He started his marketing career at Fortune 500 beverage company before deciding to join a San Francisco-based startup accelerator to lead their marketing and business development efforts. Alessio is an avid startup aficionado and a big time foodie determined to make food startups thrive by providing them with a more immediate access to capital. A global citizen at heart, he has lived and worked in Italy, South Korea, Australia, US and the UK where he is currently based.

Mark Suthern, Head of Agriculture, Barclays, UK

Mark is National Head of Agriculture for Barclays Bank where he leads a team of 200 colleagues within the UK who work entirely for and within the agricultural sector.

After graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with a Geography Degree, Mark worked in industry for a short while before joining Barclays in 1986.

During his career as a professionally qualified banker, Mark has specialised in relationship management focusing on the SME sector, financial planning and spent five years working within a lending sanctioning team specializing in the agricultural sector. Mark has also gained extensive experience of leading regional teams in the North, South East and London.

Mark is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers; a Fellow of the Institute of Sales Marketing and Management; a member of the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society; a Council Member for the Institute of Agricultural Management (having completed their Leadership Development Curse in partnership with RAU; a Trustee of The Farming Community Network; a member of the N8 AgriFood External Advisory Board and is a member of the Field of Wheat Collective (an Arts based project) investing in a field of wheat!

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director, Agri-Tech East, UK

Belinda is Director of Agri-Tech East, the cluster organisation connecting farmers and growers with researchers, technologists, entrepreneurs and investors to support the economic growth, agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability of the agri-tech value chain.

Prior to her current role, Belinda was Lead Technologist for Biosciences at Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board). In a previous role she was Director of Innovation Ecosystems at ideaSpace at the University of Cambridge, a pre-incubator supporting early stage ventures, and prior to that was Life Sciences Manager for the East of England Development Agency, based at One Nucleus. She has worked as an International Trade Advisor for biotechnology and pharmaceuticals with UK Trade and Investment, and was Science Liaison Manager at the Norwich Research Park, focussed on brokering relationships between academia and industry, and promoting the science of the Park.

Belinda is a member of BBSRC Council and a Trustee of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, as well as Chair of the recently-formed Agrimetrics Advisory Board, a member of the Plant Sector Advisory Board of the UK Knowledge Transfer Network and the ELIXIR Industry Advisory Board. She has a first degree in Natural Sciences (Part II Plant Sciences) from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in plant biochemistry from the John Innes Centre. She is a Nuffield Scholar, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Chartered Biologist, and a qualified business coach.

Dr Adrian Percy, Head of Research & Development, Bayer, Germany

Dr. Adrian Percy joined the Executive Committee of the division Crop Science on August 1, 2014 as Head of Research & Development.

Adrian grew up and studied in the United Kingdom, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool, a Master’s degree in Toxicology and then a doctorate in Biochemistry at the University of Birmingham.

He began his career in 1991 as a toxicologist with Rhone-Poulenc Agrochimie based in France. Since then, he has held numerous positions in the Research and Development departments of the Crop Science division of Bayer and its legacy companies in France, Germany and the USA. These include leading crop protection development activities in North America and, most recently, regulatory affairs activities across the Crop Science technology platforms, including Seeds & Traits, Crop Protection and Environmental Science.

Adrian is also a member of the Research and Development Executive Committee of Bayer and a Member of the Board of Trustees for the Bayer Science & Education Foundation.

Dr Steven Adams, Director of R&D, Plant Impact, UK

Steve has a degree in Horticulture and a PhD from the University of Reading.

For 12 years he was a Principle Investigator and Protected Crops Commodity Specialist at Warwick HRI (formerly Horticulture Research International), where he managed a team focusing on the physiology of glasshouse crops. The focus of his research was investigating and modelling how the aerial environment affects plant growth and development.

He has been a scientific adviser for AHDB Horticulture since 2003, and is a past Associate Editor of the Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology. He has extensive experience of managing research projects, after leading numerous projects funded by DEFRA and AHDB. He holds the Rudolf Hermanns Foundation Award for outstanding achievements in viticultural and horticultural sciences.

Dr Andrew Spencer, Head of Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation, Rothamsted Research, UK

Andrew Spencer is currently the Head of Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation at Rothamsted Research. Andrew completed a PhD in insect biochemistry at the University of Reading and worked for a number of years as a scientist and senior scientist at the Danish Pest Infestation Laboratory in Copenhagen focussing on invertebrate pest control in agriculture. After this Andrew returned to the UK to work as a Business Development Manager in the Technology Transfer offices of Aberdeen and Dundee Universities. Prior to starting at Rothamsted in 2013, Andrew worked at the IVCC in the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine as Business Manager and Senior Programme Manager.

Bob Morris, President, AndMore Associates, LLC, USA

A fertilizer industry veteran, Bob Morris is President of AndMore Associates, LLC, a global advisory firm where he provides strategic counsel on technology innovation, commercialization and opportunities to global stakeholders in the food, agriculture, and cleantech sectors. As past president of The Sulphur Institute, Bob led the successful promotion of sulphur as a viable investment and commercial product in agricultural and industrial markets worldwide. He initiated and conducted programs that positioned sulphur as an essential crop nutrient with Indian government and industry, a two-million-ton fertilizer market. The programs and partnerships he established with Chinese industry and government helped stimulate growth of Chinese sulphur imports from zero to more than ten million tons, a US$1 billion market. A published and recognized industry expert, Bob serves on various advisory boards and councils including the Ag Innovation Showcase, the International Intellectual Property Institute, TechCast Global, IFA Agriculture and Communications committees, and the Rutgers University MBS program. Bob is an agronomist with a B.S. from Rutgers University and an M.S. from Pennsylvania State University.

Dr Simon O'Brien, Patent Attorney, D Young & Co LLP, UK

Simon is a partner at D Young & Co LLP, a leading intellectual property firm. Simon is a European and Chartered Patent Attorney and his area of expertise encompasses both biological and chemical subject matter including the fields of molecular biology, biotechnology, biochemistry, food technology and nutrition, plant physiology, diagnostics and pharmaceuticals. Simon represents a number of clients ranging from academic institutions to multinational corporations.

Simon advises on all aspects of patent law including patent drafting and prosecution, opposition and appeal proceedings. He has additionally advised clients completing IP due diligence for stock market flotations.

Simon has chaired and/or lectured at numerous international conferences and conventions on life science issues in the patent arena. Simon also launched and regularly hosts D Young & Co's 'Biotechnology European Patent Case Law' webinars.

Dr Malcolm Skingle, GlaxoSmithKline, UK

Malcolm Skingle has a BSc in Pharmacology/Biochemistry and a PhD in Neuropharmacology. He has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 40 years and has gained a wide breadth of experience in the management of research activities. Part of his former role as a research leader in a Neuropharmacology department involved co-supervising collaborations with academics in the UK, Europe and USA. He has more than 60 publications including articles on the interface between industry and academia.

Malcolm manages Academic Liaison at GSK with staff in Stevenage, Research Triangle Park and Philadelphia. His role involves close liaison with several groups outside the Company e.g. Government Departments, Research and Funding Councils, Small Biotechnology Companies and other science-driven organisations. He sits on many external bodies including several UK University Department advisory groups. He also chairs a number of groups including the Diamond (Synchotron) Industrial Advisory Board, the Cogent Science Industry Partnership Board driving skills for the life sciences sector and the ABPI group working on academic liaison.

Malcolm has also been awarded a CBE in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours List in recognition of his contribution to the pharmaceutical industry as well as an Honorary Professorship from the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham and an honorary DSc from the University of Hertfordshire and honorary degree from the University of Dundee and a fellowship from Imperial College London medical faculty. Malcolm was elected as a Fellow into the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London in 2011.

Michael Ruggier, Founder and CEO, GameChanger Technologies, UK

Michael has had a tenure in leading positions over the last 24 years with Shell International in The Netherlands, Aberdeen, Brunei, Malaysia, Houston, China, New Zealand & Oman, predominately involved in novel technology development and deployment. He implemented step-change improvements, introduced industry first novel technologies and created significant new commercial applications and opportunities globally.

In his role as ‘GameChanger’ for Shell for 6.5 years until August 2015, Michael invested millions $US in highly novel technology ideas in the oil & gas as well as novel alternative energy solutions creating billions $US in value. He did this by seeking in unusual places for radical and mostly disruptive ideas, identifying, funding and supporting them to prove the concept, developing them for first commercial application, and speeding up global deployment and spin-offs with many “rags-to-riches” by turning people’s dreams into reality.

He is now Founder and CEO of ‘GameChanger Technologies Ltd’ where he will continue doing the same but with focus on developing critically important technologies to overcome the world’s greatest challenges, namely sustainable food production. Bringing the right partners to the table is what Michael does best, with phenomenal ‘size of the prize’. He achieves with lean / meager resources what would normally only be achievable with government funding, heavy subsidies or large enterprises. His belief is that in order to make a significant positive contribution to our planet, things need to be done differently. Radical and disruptive innovation are required in all areas including novel business models and partnerships to prove, develop and commercialise the new technologies and ensure global deployment.