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SPRIND Sciencepreneurship Symposium

Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation – SPRIND, Falling Walls Foundation | Allison-Mercedes Duettmann, Benoit Schillings, Darja Isaksson, Juliana Lim, Lisa Ericsson, Orla Catherine Browne, Rafael Laguna de la Vera, Thomas Frederik Hellmann, Thane Campbell, Henry Marx, Julia Borggräfe, Matthias Hilpert, Mario Brandenburg, Frank Buchholz

SPRIND Sciencepreneurship Symposium: Taking breakthroughs from the lab to the market

Scientific breakthroughs can solve our biggest challenges – from infectious diseases and cancer to cyber security, shortages of natural resources, and rapid climate change. To transform new knowledge into deeply impactful results, Science needs to engage with change makers. We need great scientists making discoveries and entrepreneurs effectuating valuable changes for humanity and planetary health. We need Sciencepreneurs who can take breakthroughs from the lab to the market, thereby navigating unchartered economic, political and social territories. To catalyze scientific breakthroughs, we, at the Sciencepreneurship Symposium, bring together thought leaders, policy makers, transfer professionals, executives and entrepreneurs to discuss key issues and current structures to strategically accelerate innovation ecosystems. At the end, more science-based technology start-ups should be empowered to change the world for the better.

The event is cohosted by our main partner, the Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation – SPRIND.


As president and CEO of Foresight Institute, Allison directs the AI, nano, bio, neuro, space seminars, fellowships, prizes, and tech trees. She co-edited Superintelligence: Coordination & Strategy, and co-authored Gaming the Future. She founded Foresight’s AI safety grant program, Existentialhope.com, and co-initiated The Longevity Prize. She advises organizations and projects, such as Cosmica, and The Roots of Progress Fellowship, and is on the Executive Committee of the Biomarker Consortium. She holds an MS in Philosophy & Policy from the London School of Economics, focusing on AI Safety.

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Wed | Nov 08, 2023 | 12.00 PM - 01.00 PM Berlin Time

Falling Walls Circle – Plenary Table: How Generative AI Can Revolutionize Therapy Development

Benoit Schillings

X - The Moonshot Factory

Benoit, X’s Chief Technology Officer, oversees a portfolio of early-stage project teams that dream up, prototype and derisk X’s next generation of moonshots. The scientists, technologists and self described general weirdos in Benoit’s team take out-there ideas for positive world changing technologies from “what if?” to early prototype. Some of the team’s current areas of exploration include investigating the next frontiers in computing, biochemistry, inverse design and clean energy sources. Originally from Belgium, Benoit has worked in Silicon Valley for over 30 years holding senior technical roles at Yahoo, Nokia, Be.Inc and holds more than 40 U.S. and international patents related to his work in hardware and software technology. Benoit is the father of two wonderful daughters and when he’s not working on moonshots he can be found on his roof, gazing at the beauty of the night sky through his homemade telescopes.

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Wed | Nov 08, 2023 | 09.00 AM - 10.00 AM Berlin Time

Falling Walls Circle – Plenary Table: The Implications of AI for Science: Friend or Foe?

Thu | Nov 09, 2023 | 12.15 PM - 12.30 PM Berlin Time

Benoit Schillings: Breaking the Wall to Invention Machines

Darja Isaksson is director general of Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency, and serves as a member of the Swedish government’s National Digitalization Council. As the founder of two agencies, she has worked in business and product development for clients such as Sony Ericsson, Ikea and Husqvarna. She has served as adviser to the prime minister’s Innovation Council, been recognized as one of Sweden’s most powerful opinion-makers by financial magazine Veckans Affarer and was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people in digital government by the website Apolitical.

Juliana Lim


As Executive Director – Talent, Juliana tackles tech talent challenges faced by many companies and industries. She leads SGInnovate’s talent development efforts, overseeing the organisation’s Deep Tech Talent Central strategy – connecting Singapore’s startups and talent with the resources and opportunities they need to build and scale companies tackling tomorrow’s biggest challenges.

Lisa Ericsson

KTH Innovation

Lisa is an engaging and motivated leader with a strong passion to create impact through innovation. She has over 25 years’ experience of working with innovation and entrepreneurship tied closely to the academic sphere. She has held a number of roles at KTH Royal Institute of Technology since 2002 and today she is CEO of the investment arm KTH Holding AB (2006) and the founder and head of KTH Innovation (2007), the innovation support department at KTH. She is a member of the advisory council at PRV the Swedish intellectual property office.

Orla is Head of Insights at Dealroom, a global data platform for intelligence on startups, innovation, high-growth companies, ecosystems and investment strategies. Dealroom’s data powers investment decisions by the world’s leading investors and biggest corporates, as well and policymaking by local and national governments and international organisations. Prior to Dealroom, Orla worked at Tech Nation, the UK’s pioneering government-backed body supporting tech startups and policy in the UK.

In July 2019, tech pioneer, founder and innovator Rafael Laguna has been appointed founding director of the Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation SPRIND. With more than 30 year’s experience, Rafael Laguna has a proven track record of success in building and growing software companies. The Agency aims to foster innovations with radically new technologies and a great potential to change the market with new products, services and value chains. The Federal Republic of Germany, represented by the BMBF and BMWi, is the sole shareholder of SPRIND. The Agency will operate initially for a period of ten years. The funding currently planned for this ten-year period is around 1 billion euros.

Thomas Frederik Hellmann

Saïd School of Business

Thomas Hellmann is the DP World Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Saïd School of Business, University of Oxford. He holds a BA from the London School of Economics and a PhD from Stanford University. He previously worked at Stanford GSB and UBC Sauder. His research focuses on entrepreneurial finance, entrepreneurship, innovation, and public policy. His textbook on Entrepreneurial Finance came out in 2020. He has founded and leads the Creative Destruction Lab at Oxford. He also is the Academic champion for EnSpire Oxford.

Thane Campbell

Deep Science Ventures

Dean at Deep Science Ventures, Thane leads a new PhD program, the Venture Science Doctorate (VSD). He holds a PhD in Immunology and AI, titled in the European Commission’s Skills for Tomorrow competition and was a Roche Continents Fellow.

Thane aims to exponentially scale the workforce addressing the world’s hardest problems. Backed by governments, Schmidt Futures and Anglo American, VSD’s collaborative platform spans universities, VDE, CGIAR and GSK on five continents. By 2033, VSD will forge 1,000 Venture Scientists anually in a coordinated response to our most complex global challenges.

Henry Marx

Senate Department for Higher Education and Research, Health and Long-Term Care

Henry Marx is the Permanent Secretary for Higher Education and Research of the state of Berlin. As deputy head of the Senate Department he is responsible for all political and administrative decision of the government of the state. Especially the implementation in political processes in cooperation with the universities and research institutions in Berlin are part of his portfolio. His goal is to further strengthen the excellent research portfolio of Berlin and enabling researchers with the best conditions a city can give them. He holds the post since May 2023. Before Dr. Henry Max received his PhD in history and worked as a consultant and as teacher in public schools in Berlin.

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Wed | Nov 08, 2023 | 09.00 AM - 10.00 AM Berlin Time

Falling Walls Circle – Round Table: Challenges and Best Practices of Ageing Societies

Julia Borggräfe is a lawyer and has been with Metaplan as an associate partner since 2022. Before working at Metaplan, she set up the Digitization and Working Environment department and the think tank as head of department at the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Previously, she held senior management positions in HR departments of various companies in the automotive and service sectors. She advises on strategy and organizational development as well as innovation and transformation processes, with a particular focus on digital transformation issues. Julia is enthusiastic about any form of complexity – whether in business, administration, politics or sports. She loves Asian food, inspiring conversations and traveling with family and friends.

Matthias Hilpert

MH2 Capital GmbH

Matthias founded avalas and spent more than 20 years in telecoms and private equity working at Vodafone, Orange, and Salt worldwide. In his last operating role he steered a EUR 1bn P&L and contributed to a successful private equity investment cycle for Apax Partners, generating EUR 800m enterprise value. As CEO of MH2 Capital he has now turned full time investor in early stage technology, real estate and public assets. Matthias invested in 30 early stage companies across Europe and participated in 8 exits. Matthias studied Business at FAU Nuremberg, University of Edinburgh and LMU Munich.

Mario Brandenburg

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Mario Brandenburg was appointed Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Education and Research in June 2022. He has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2017. During the 19th legislative period (2017 to 2021), he served as spokesperson of the Free Democratic Party for technology policy and represented his party on the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment, on the Committee on the Digital Agenda and on the Study Commission on Artificial Intelligence. In the 20th legislative period (2021 to 2025), Mr Brandenburg was appointed spokesperson of the Free Democratic Party in the German Bundestag for research, technology and innovation and sat on the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment. Mario Brandenburg has an M.Sc. in business informatics. In 2009, he was recruited by Europe’s largest software company, SAP SE, where he worked until 2017, starting as a working student covering various positions before working as a cloud integration architect and consultant. Mr Brandenburg joined the FDP in 2010 and was elected to the local council and the collective municipality council in Rülzheim, Rhineland-Palatinate in 2014. He was born on 3 October 1983 in Bad Bergzabern. He lives with his wife and two children in Rülzheim.

Since 2010, Frank Buchholz is Professor of Medical Systems Biology and Head of Translational Research at the University Cancer Center (UCC) of TU Dresden. He is also Dean of Research at the Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus. Already during his PhD he did pioneering work on the implementation and improvement of sequence-specific recombinases in the field of genome engineering. Frank perfected this approach as a group leader at the Max Planck-Institute CBG Dresden and developed a designer-recombinase that can eliminate HIV from infected cells. This completely novel antiretroviral approach has been widely recognized as a breakthrough in enzyme technology, offering a promising new avenue for treating patients with HIV infections. Further developments of the technology has led to the establishment of two start-up companies.


About the Venue
Spreeblick – Conference Room
Schillingbrücke 4
Berlin, Berlin 10243 Germany

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