NEOM Innovation Challenge 2020

Imagine solutions to solve the Grand Challenges of the future.




    Bob MORRIS

    President of AndMore Associates, LLC

    Bob Morris is president of AndMore Associates, LLC, a global advisory firm providing strategic counsel on technology innovation, commercialization and new business opportunities to global stakeholders in the food, agriculture, and cleantech sectors.  An advocate for entrepreneurship, innovation, higher education improvements, and science and technology initiatives, Bob is passionate about developing sustainable solutions in an evolving, dynamic global marketplace. 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 among Fortune 500 corporations, associations, NGOs, and international government agencies. Since leaving TSI, Bob has focused on the rapidly emerging agtech sector from its outset, advising players across the spectrum from start-ups and investment funds to corporates. A frequent panelist and speaker, Bob serves on various boards and committees including the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) External Advisory Board, TERI NanoTech Centre Scientific Committee, and Rutgers University MBS board. Bob holds degrees from Rutgers University and Pennsylvania State University.



    Rahul GONDANE

    Senior Manager, National Child Safety and Advocacy at Teach For India, and Chief Operating Officer at Pyrite Technologies

    Rahul Gondane is the Senior Manager for National Child Safety and Advocacy at Teach For India, where he leads education policy advocacy with the Central, State and Local Government, and internal/external strategy to create safe and conducive learning spaces for students. He is a member of the Education Sub Committee in the Voluntary Action Cell of NITI Aayog, the Government of India's apex policy making think tank, and also works with a network of partners nationally to reach the vision of educational equity. He is also Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Pyrite Technologies Pvt. Ltd., a digital marketing and branding firm that creates strategies for small, medium and large scale enterprises across a breadth of industries, including IT, Telecom, Health & Fitness, Retail and Hospitality.



    Dr. Pasi VAINIKKA

    Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder

    Dr Vainikka has held positions as a principal scientist in the strategic research management at VTT Technical research centre of Finland as well as in the management of VTT’s contract research in energy.

    Before becoming CEO he led a strategic initiative with the name Neo-Carbon Energy 

    Spin-off projects from that initiative include Soletair pilot plant producing fuel from air, Neo-Carbon-Food concept for producing healthy protein from air - now commercialised by Solar Foods - as well as the wold’s first simulation for global 100% renewable electricity system named the “Internet of Energy”. Dr Vainikka is the Mission innovation Champion for Finland.

    Solar Foods produces protein using air and electricity. Solar Foods revolutionises food production with a method that is not dependent on agriculture, the weather, or the climate. The company was founded in Espoo, Finland, in 2017.


     Jeff MEDEIROS

    Co-Founder, Partner KEASTONE / Adjunct Professor NYU Stern School of Business & Anglo-American University

    Jeff Medeiros is a businessman/entrepreneur and educator from the Silicon Valley region of Northern California.  He earned his undergraduate degree in Marketing and Finance from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and his MBA in Information Systems from IUKB/UNYP here in Europe where he also teaches eCommerce and Entrepreneurship.

    In addition to teaching, he and his business partner are currently working on an early stage venture, Keastone, Inc, building IRIIIS, an All-in-One cloud-based software platform designed to help people get things done.  Its primary value is to solve the problem of fragmented user data and to provide the basic functions in one place, allowing users to work the way they think. Keastone is headquartered in San Francisco, with operations in Prague and the software development team in Bangalore, India.

    Before coming to Europe, Jeff had a successful career in technology in the San Francisco Bay Area, working for IBM as a large systems specialist, and then founding a technical sales and consulting business during the dotcom bubble, burst, and recovery generating over $250M in revenue.


    Muhamed BOU-ZEID

    General Manager MENA

    Muhamed Bou-Zeid leads Vestas operations in the Middle East and North Africa region and oversees the company’s ongoing development and expansion efforts in its wind turbine technology and service solutions, including engineering, procurement and construction opportunities.

    Muhamed brings an extensive multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural career within the Energy sector. For over 13 years, Muhamed had pulled through a successful track record with Siemens that drove the company’s Oil and Gas, Electrical Power Generation and Distribution, and Industrial Power businesses to success throughout the EMEA region, including India and the United States of America (USA).

    Prior to his executive role in Vestas, Muhamed held several Vice-President roles at Siemens for six years based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which made him instrumental in growing the Industrial Power portfolio revenues in the Middle East by 120% in only two years.

    Mohamed holds a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Linköping University and a Post Graduate diploma in Business Economics and Management from Stockholm School of Economics.

    Currently living in Abu Dhabi with his wife and two children, Muhamed was born and raised in Lebanon and speaks Swedish, English, Arabic and French.


     Hamza RKHA CHAHAM

    Co-founder and chief Operating Officer of SOWIT

    Hamza is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of SOWIT, a start-up providing decision supports systems to African farmers. SOWIT leverages all the power of remote-sensing (UAS and satellite) and Big Data to fill the agronomic information gap in Africa. As an UAS expert, Hamza is involved in the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA ACP-EU) program  “Transforming African Agriculture: Eyes In The Sky, Smart Techs On The Ground”. The program aims at supporting 26 innovative companies based in 14 African countries to deliver high-impact UAS services for farmers. 


    Rajendra GHIMIRE

    Chief Technology Officer and Director of Products

    Leading as Chief Technology Officer and Director of Products, Water Management. Responsible for produced water treatment/management projects globally, (focused in North America, MENA, Russia, Asia, and South America). Business Development Lead for the overall PfP Industries portfolio (stimulation fluids, fracturing fluids, production chemicals, drilling fluid chemicals, and oil field equipment) for the Middle East. Established a water division, PRRO WATER with fully functional water lab and modular wastewater treatment units. Converting produced water from a linear to a circular economy by integrating, logistics, infrastructure, regulations, water quality, and fluid compatibility. Identified, evaluated, licensed and commercialized differentiating wastewater treatment technologies and solutions. Advising in M & A of the small and medium water treatment/management companies. NSF I-Corps Industry Mentor. Blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiasts. 






    Founder and CEO, Agritecture

    Henry Gordon-Smith is a sustainability strategist focused on urban agriculture, water issues, and emerging technologies.

    Henry earned his BA in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, coursework in Food Security and Urban Agriculture from Ryerson University in Toronto, and an MSc in Sustainability Management from Columbia University.

    Agritecture is the leading global urban agriculture consulting firm with 100's of past clients in over 25 countries. Their mission is to empower impact-driven organizations to develop feasible urban farming solutions, turning their business ideas into practical and sustainable realities.



    Senior Director, Head of Public Affairs, Mediterranean and Africa Region at Vestas

    Prior to joining Vestas Mr. Huarte-Mendicoa was Senior Advisor on Environment to the Spanish Minister of Agriculture and Environment. Before that, he was advisor to the Spanish Secretary of State for Climate Change.

    His responsibilities included advising on environmental issues and managing the Spanish carbon offsets program, for Spain to comply with Kyoto Protocol.

    Pedro Huarte-Mendicoa joined Vestas Wind Power Systems in 2014 and currently holds the position of Senior Director, Head of Public Affairs, covering South Europe, LATAM and Africa.

    Vestas is the world´s # 1 manufacturer of wind turbine generators, with more than 113 GW of wind capacity installed in 85 countries. 



     Ioannis PAPADAS

    Director of Sales MENA and Saudi Arabia at Vestas

     Ioannis is a Greek national with more than 17 years of international experience in the power sector. He graduated as Dipl. Mechanical Engineer, from the National Technical University of Athens.

    In 2010 he joined Vestas as a Sales manager for the Greek office. In 2012-2013 he was part of the Business development team tasked with the emerging markets of Russia and Kazakhstan. In 2016 in the context of Vestas talent development program, he moved to Spain as Executive Advisor to the President of Vestas Southern Europe, MENA and Latin America. In 2019 he relocated back to Athens, Greece as Sales Director for Middle East and North Africa. Since 2018, he is responsible for all commercial efforts of Vestas in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.



    Abdulag GORUR

    Head of Technical Sales Management Middle East and North Africa

    Abdullah GÖRÜR is the Head of Technical Sales Management in the Middle East and North African (MENA) sub-region of Vestas Wind Systems A/S.

    Abdullah joined Vestas in 2016, and since then he has been responsible for all technical sales activities and value engineering initiatives notably in Turkey, Greece and now MENA. Prior to his tenure at Vestas, Abdullah worked for Enercon as Project Engineer micro-siting wind energy projects and assessing resource and site conditions. He has also acquired extensive knowledge on product development during his time with Temsa Global in 2012.

    As an interdisciplinary engineer, Abdullah has more than 10 years of experience in renewable energy systems, which kicked off when he worked as Research Engineer with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), an entity within the Energy Technology Department in Australia, in 2010.

    Abdullah holds a Master’s Degree in Process, Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering (PEESE) from Berlin University of Technology and a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul.



    Vladimir VISEK

    Sustainability Manager IKEA CZ/HU/SK

    Vladimír has been working in the area of sustainability past 10 years. He spent two years in Ghana as volunteer in local orphanage, focusing on economic self-sufficiency of the organization. He worked as project manager in non-profit organization Light for the World which helps to retrieve eyesight to people in different areas of the world.

    In 2013 he joined IKEA as a Sustainability manager for CZ/HU/SK region, being responsible for overall strategy implementation. He spent two years in Swedish Mälmo working on global circular agenda. He is a board member of Zachraň jídlo (Save the food) initiative.



     Daniel FRÜHAUF

    Innovation and Co-creation Manager IKEA CZ/HU/SK

    Daniel has been working in the innovation are for past 5 years. He spent a year in a start-up company with the goal to have the partners all around the EU. Upon successful completion of the task, he moved to the company, where he led the whole product cycle from the ideation after delivery. His last experience before he moved to IKEA is from the energy company, where he was responsible for innovation and co-creation, but also for cooperation with start – ups. In 2020 he moved to IKEA, where he is the “bridging point” between external and internal environment and between sustainable topics and digital ones, also. He is part of the Innovation and Co-creation members of IKEA global.




    Henrique MIRANDA

    Co-founder Better2Earth

    Henrique works to drive positive change across industries by leading Better2Earth strategy. Key to conservation is the overall protection of the planet’s natural resources, and water & soil plays a vital role in that.

    Through his efforts, he works with business, university and industry to help design, sustainable choices for earth’s future.

    Henrique works with companies to strategically address their innovation management by focusing on turning inventions to market success and pursuing strategies that allow companies to find new products, processes, markets and business models. His work focuses on the major commodities, natural gas and electric power, tendering and procurement for medium to large size companies, and how to integrate sustainability into the decisions and trade-offs that must be assessed across a product’s lifecycle.

    Prior to joining Better to Earth, Henrique worked at Libbey Portugal for 12 years being responsible for leading engineering projects and implementation of innovation management programs. His expertise is in energy markets, innovation management, manufacturing and project management.

    Henrique holds a MSc in Marketing and a BSc in Electronic Engineering, business management programs at Portuguese Catholic University, and is Senior Member at IEEE.



    Tony GERRANS

    Executive Director at Humane Society International – Africa

    Mr. Tony Gerrans is the Executive Director of Humane Society International – Africa. Between 1995 and 1998, he worked for the Department of Land Affairs in the South African Government’s land reform program, researching and reviewing land restitution claims submitted by victims of the Apartheid government’s forced removals policies. In 1998, Mr. Gerrans joined a privately owned group of companies spread across South Africa specializing in the design, manufacture and supply of liquids storage and handling equipment. He has worked as Commercial Manager, Operations Manager, and Director and then took over as Managing Director in 2007. Mr. Gerrans is a keen naturalist and works part‑time as a Trustee for the Humane Education Trust, a non-profit initiative committed primarily to improving welfare standards for farmed and other domesticated animals, and the protection of wild animals and their habitats.  Mr. Gerrans holds two bachelor's degrees, one in Arts and another one in Law, as well as a master's degree in Business Administration from the University of the Witwatersrand.







Daniel CORZO

PhD Student in Materials Science and Engineering (KAUST, Saudi Arabia)

Mariam Sahal AWLIA

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cape Town



Marketing Executive at Go Clouding


Lecturer at King Abdulaziz University