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Past Conferences

Conference Details - Speakers

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2018 MIT Startup Ecosystem Conference

Innovating in AI, Data, and Hard Tech
May 15, 2018
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Alex Amouyel
Executive Director, Solve
Alex Amouyel is the Executive Director of Solve, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Solve is a community of cross-sector leaders devoted to identifying and supporting solutions to actionable challenges through open innovation. Previously, Alex was the Director of Program for the Clinton Global Initiative, where she curated the content for the Annual Meeting. She also worked for Save the Children International in London and across Asia, the Middle East and Haiti, and at the Boston Consulting Group. Alex holds a double Masters from Sciences Po, Paris, and the London School of Economics, and a Bachelors from Trinity College, Cambridge, UK.
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Alex Benik
Partner, Battery Ventures
Alex joined Battery in 2001 and currently works out of the firm’s Boston office. From 2001 through 2006, he was based in Menlo Park. Alex focuses on investments in infrastructure technologies for enterprises, data centers, and wired/wireless service providers. He is also one of the firm’s focal points for relationships with technologists and end users at Fortune 1000 companies and large, web-scale operators. Alex is particularly interested in the challenges of building web-scale, data-center networks and distributed computing and storage systems.

During his tenure at Battery, Alex has been involved with investments including Anobit Technologies (acquired by Apple), MaxLinear (NYSE: MXL), Optichron (acquired by Netlogic), Veraz Networks (NASDAQ: VRAZ), VSS Monitoring (acquired by Danaher), and ZeroG Wireless (acquired by Microchip). He is currently involved with Battery’s investments in Cask, Catchpoint, Cumulus Networks, Fungible, GuardiCore, Interana, Nutanix, Plixer, Stratoscale and Vivid Cortex. Alex was named one of the top cloud infrastructure investors by GigaOM.

Prior to Battery, Alex was an analyst at The Yankee Group, where he conducted market research and consulted on data communications. While in this position, he executed strategic marketing and competitive analysis for clients including major networking equipment vendors and service providers. Alex earned a BA in government from Wesleyan University, which has not prevented him from impersonating an engineer in his professional life.
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Daniel Curran
Senior Vice President, Head of the Center for External Innovation
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Inc.
Daniel Curran leads the Center for External Innovation (CEI) for Takeda, whose mission is to source, transact, and support innovative external ideas to create new therapeutic options to treat disease in Takeda’s therapeutic areas of interest. The responsibilities of CEI include overseeing all research and development, business development activities, strategic venture investments, academic alliances, externalization/spin-outs, and supporting merger and acquisition efforts. CEI has concluded more than 120 transactions since it was established in 2015 and put $1.5 B in capital to work in external relationships and investments. Prior to establishing the Center for External Innovation, Dr. Curran led the corporate development group at Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company and was a member of the executive management team of Millennium. In that role, he led the development and execution of corporate strategic business development initiatives, including licensing arrangements, acquisitions, and a range of other transactions. He has twenty years of pharmaceutical experience in business development, project leadership, and development roles. Prior to Millennium, previous professional experience includes a business development role in the Product Planning and Acquisition group at DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Curran received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and his BS in chemistry from King’s College. He currently resides in Wellesley, MA with his wife and four children.
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Thomas d'Halluin
CEO, Airbus Ventures
Thomas is the CEO of the fund’s U.S. management company, where he leads U.S. venture investments for Airbus Ventures activities. The fund is based in Silicon Valley, with interest in astro-aero startups globally. With an Airbus tenure of fifteen years, Thomas previously served as COO of Airbus Ventures, and as the Chief of Staff to the CFO of Airbus. Trained as an aerospace engineer, Thomas has worked in manufacturing, procurement, supply chain, and finance roles throughout Europe and China, having lived in Shanghai for three years. In 2016 Thomas was named to the French-American Foundation Young Leaders for the United States.

Thomas holds an undergraduate degree in energy engineering, and a Masters of Science in mechanical engineering from McGill University. He lives with his wife and three children in Palo Alto, CA.
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Marcus Dahllöf
Program Director
MIT Startup Exchange
Marcus Dahllöf facilitates connections between MIT-connected startups and corporate members of the MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) through networking events, workshops, the STEX25 accelerator, and opportunity postings. He is a two-time tech entrepreneur (one exit in cybersecurity), and has previously held roles in finance, software engineering, corporate strategy, and business development at emerging tech companies and Fortune 100 corporations in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe. Dahllöf was a member of the Swedish national rowing team, and he is a mentor at the MIT Venture Mentoring Service.
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Ann DeWitt
COO, The Engine
Ann DeWitt, COO of the Engine, was most recently at Sanofi where she held senior roles in business development and strategic venture investment. Prior to Sanofi, she was at Flagship Ventures. DeWitt started her career in R&D at 3M Company, working across fields of materials, biology, engineering. DeWitt holds an MBA from Harvard and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT. She serves on the Board of Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology and on the Life Science Council of Springboard Enterprises.
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Greg Dracon
Partner, 406 Ventures
Greg joined .406 in 2007 and is involved in all aspects of the investing and portfolio management process. He brings 22 years of venture investing and technology operating and management experience.

Prior to joining .406, Greg was a Vice President of Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage venture and small to mid-sized growth technology companies. At Core, Greg focused on cybersecurity, digital media, technology-enabled services and wireless applications.

Before becoming a venture investor, Greg spent over a decade as an operator within the high tech industry and held various operating and management roles in worldwide sales, business development, product distribution and digital signal processing applications.

Greg received his MBA, with majors in Entrepreneurial Management and Finance, from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and his BS in Electrical Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University.
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Karen Gleason
Associate Provost
Alexander and I Michael Kasser Professor of Chemical Engineering
MIT Office of the Provost
Dr. Karen K. Gleason is Associate Provost and the Alexander and I. Michael Kasser Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1987 and has served as Executive Officer of the Chemical Engineering Department, Associate Director for the Institute of Soldier Nanotechnologies; and as Associate Dean of Engineering for Research.

Professor Gleason’s research focuses on the near room-temperature synthesis of ultrathin, conformal organic films by chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Gleason has authored more than 250 publications and holds 18 issued US patents for CVD polymers and their applications in optoelectronic, sensing, microfluidic, energy storage, and biomedical devices, and for the surface modification of membranes.

Gleason is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AIChE) and held the Donders Visiting Professorship Chair at Utrecht University, Netherlands. Her awards include the ID TechEx Printed Electronics Europe Best Technical Development Materials Award, the AIChE Process Development Research Award, and Young Investigator Awards from both the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research. She has delivered the Van Ness Award Lecture at the Rensselaer Polytechnic University and the Tis Lahiri Lecture at Vanderbuilt University.

In 2001, Prof Gleason co-founded GVD Corporation, which has successfully scaled-up and commercialized technology invented in her MIT lab. GVD is headquartered in Cambridge, MA and has manufacturing facilities in Greenville, SC. In 2014, she co-founded Drop-Wise for improving the efficiency of steam power cycles.

Gleason received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. Her BS and MS degrees are from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she also won All-American honors in swimming.
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Keith Hearon
CEO, Poly6
Poly6 is catalyzing a global materials revolution in which energy intensive, toxic, and waste producing material chemistries are replaced with new, simple, bio-based, high performing chemistries. Keith Hearon is the inventor of Citrene™ and is a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Robert Langer’s group at MIT. Keith has 8 patents granted/pending in materials science.
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John Kelly
Director, Empower Innovation at BAE Systems
BAE Systems, Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems plc, an international defense, aerospace, and security company which delivers a full range of products and services for air, land, and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions, and customer support services.
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Scott Kirsner
Editor & Co-Founder, Innovation Leader
Scott Kirsner is a journalist who writes about innovation and entrepreneurship. His “Innovation Economy” column appears Sundays in the Boston Globe, and he is also editor of the site Innovation Leader (www.innovationleader.com), , which focuses on R&D, product development, corporate venturing, and new initiatives within large companies. Scott has been a regular contributor to Fast Company, BusinessWeek, Variety, and Wired. His books include Fans, Friends & Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age, a technological history of Hollywood. He can be reached at scott@innovationleader.com and his Twitter handle is @ScottKirsner.
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Expertise Link

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Karl Koster
Executive Director
MIT Corporate Relations
Karl Koster, Executive Director, MIT Corporate Relations, oversees the MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) and MIT Startup Exchange. Koster and his staff work with the faculty leadership of MIT and senior corporate executives to design and implement strategies for corporate partnerships with the Institute. Koster served as the immediate past chair of the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP). He earned a BA in geology and economics from Brown University and an SM from MIT Sloan School of Management.
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Tom Leighton
Chief Executive Officer
Closing Keynote
Day 1, 3:15
Dr. Tom Leighton co-founded Akamai Technologies in 1998 and served as Akamai’s Chief Scientist until he became CEO in 2013. Under Leighton’s leadership, Akamai has evolved from its origins as a Content Delivery Network (CDN) into one of the most essential and trusted cloud delivery and cybersecurity platforms, upon which many of the world’s best brands and enterprises build and secure their digital experiences. During his initial four years as CEO, Akamai’s revenue and profit grew by 70%, and annual revenue from Akamai’s security business grew 15-fold to more than $400 million per year.

As one of the world's preeminent authorities on algorithms for network applications and cybersecurity, Leighton discovered a solution to freeing up web congestion using applied mathematics and distributed computing. Akamai used this technology to create the world's largest distributed computing platform, which today delivers and secures tens of millions of requests per second to billions of users around the world.

Leighton holds more than 50 patents involving content delivery, Internet protocols, algorithms for networks, cryptography and digital rights management. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2017 for his inventions in content delivery.

Leighton has served on numerous government, industry, and academic advisory panels. He is one of nine CEOs who make up the Technology CEO Council, the information technology industry's leading CEO advocacy organization, and he was one of 18 CEOs invited to the White House in 2017 for the launch of the American Technology Council to develop solutions to modernize and secure the U.S. government’s IT systems. From 2003 to 2005, he served on the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee and chaired its Subcommittee on Cybersecurity.

Leighton has been personally committed to increasing the pipeline of students pursuing STEM careers for over thirty years, first as a mathematics professor at MIT and now through his leadership at Akamai. He is a strong supporter of the Akamai Foundation, which promotes mathematics education, and he oversaw the creation of the Akamai Technical Academy, an innovative program developed in-house and aimed at training diverse non-technical professionals for technical careers. He also supports numerous charitable organizations dedicated to improving STEM education and opportunities for K-12 students, including The Center for Excellence in Education, the Society for Science and the Public (sponsor of the Intel Science Search), The Mathematical Association of America (sponsor of the Math Olympiad), the Math Competition for Girls, and Girls Who Code.

Leighton graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science. He received his PhD in applied mathematics from MIT.
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Quinn Li
Vice President & Global Head of Qualcomm Ventures
In this role, Quinn oversees Qualcomm’s $1 billion strategic venture investment portfolio of over 140 investments. He currently serves as a board member or observer in AMEC, Brain Corp, Cohesity, Lytro, OneWeb, RetailNext, Tango, and Verve. Previously Quinn has led investments in A123 Systems (AONE), Consert (acquired by Landis+Gyr), InvenSense (INVN), Placemeter (acquired by Netgear), PowerCloud Systems (acquired by Comcast), and Siimpel (acquired by Tessera).

Prior to joining Qualcomm Ventures, Quinn held various engineering and management roles in the wireless industry. He worked in product management and business development at IBM Systems and Technology Group, and spent several years in Broadcom and the wireless infrastructure group at Lucent Technologies.

Quinn received his MBA from Cornell University, and his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis.

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Expertise Link

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David Mindell
Frances and David Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing
Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems
Founder & CEO, Humatics
David Mindell is an engineer and historian. An expert in human relationships with robotics and autonomous systems, he has led or participated in more than 25 oceanographic expeditions. From 2005 to 2011 he was Director of MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society. He is the author of five books and co-founder of Humatics Corporation, which develops technologies to transform how robots and autonomous systems work in human environments.
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Erik Mirandette
Head of Customer Success, Tulip
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Max Pieri
Vice President for Cooperation with MIT, Eni
Massimiliano Pieri is Eni's Vice President for Cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In his position, Massimiliano is responsible for Eni's research project portfolio with MIT and cooperation opportunities with startups in MIT ecosystem.

Previously, he held senior management roles in oil and gas in the Far East, Africa and Europe.

Prior to joining Eni, Massimiliano was part of the GE Capital M&A team in London, was a consultant for McKinsey and an executive at Edison S.p.A.

Massimiliano holds an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School in New York and an MSc in Mechanical Engineering from Polytechnic of Milan.
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Leon Sandler
Executive Director, MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation
As Executive Director of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, Leon Sandler wears many hats: He is responsible for guiding the center’s strategic direction, ensuring successful execution of its mission, and managing day-today operations.

With a strong background in the assessment of technologies for commercialization, Mr. Sandler leads a process the center calls “select, direct and connect”. Through this process, faculty research projects are chosen to receive Deshpande Center grants, based on a project’s potential commercial and social impact. Research teams then receive intensive guidance in how to bring their inventions to the marketplace and form new spinout companies.

Among his related duties Mr. Sandler:

- Mentors faculty and student researchers
- Coaches and lectures on technology innovation and entrepreneurship at the MIT Trust Entrepreneurship Center and the MIT Sloan executive education program
- Advises organizations around the world on how to move technologies from the lab to the marketplace
- Serves as the Deshpande Center’s fundraiser-in-chief, responsible for keeping the center on a sound financial footing.

To ensure the success of all these activities, Mr. Sandler builds and continually renews a broad network of relationships. These include connections within MIT’s well-developed entrepreneurial ecosystem and external ties with venture capitalists, corporate supporters, government agencies, and educational institutions.

Business, Entrepreneurial and Educational Background
Before joining the Deshpande Center in 2006, Leon Sandler held senior positions in general management, marketing, finance and business development at companies such as Boston Consulting Group, Eastman Kodak, Texas Instruments and Digital Equipment Corporation. He founded the consulting firm Monmouth Group, where he provided management, marketing and business development assistance to over twenty early-stage companies. This included co-founding and serving as the CEO of Nuvonyx, a maker of industrial laser systems; serving as CEO of several start-ups; and assisting many ventures as an interim executive or advisor.

Mr. Sandler received his B.S. degree in 1971 and his M.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1973 from Natal University in South Africa, and his M.B.A. in 1977 from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
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Konomi Scott
Director, Business Development, Corporate Engineering and R&D
Magna International