Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi, was born in Durban, South Africa during the apartheid years. At age 12, Arun was taken to India to live with his famous grandfather and learn ways to cope with his anger and violent reactions, having been a victim of color prejudice while growing up. During his time in India, he learned valuable lessons on life next to his grandfather. Arun is now the President of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute to take the message of nonviolence all over the world and to rescue and train children living in poverty so that they can break the oppressive cycle crushing them. He has also started the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in 1991, based since 2008 at the University of Rochester, NY, which runs programs for inner city children, inmates of correctional facilities and poor families while teaching nonviolence to students. During his years in India Arun and his late wife, Sunanda, started self-help economic programs for the impoverished and oppressed sections of society, designed to rebuild the crushed self-respect of poverty victims. They also found loving homes for new born babies abandoned by unwed mothers. Arun also leads two Legacy Tours to India and South Africa, both annual and open to all interested in field studies of nonviolence and peace.
Grammy-winning producer, writer & musicologist
Christopher C. King is a Grammy-winning producer, musicologist as well as a prominent 78 rpm collector. He has been profiled in the New York Times Magazine and the Washington Post, and has written for the Paris Review and the Oxford American. Christopher was born and raised in southwest Virginia and studied philosophy at Radford University. Over the course of the last ten years, he has researched the tradition of Greek demotika songs, especially in Epirus. In 2018, W.W. Norton published his book, Lament from Epirus: An Odyssey into Europe’s Old Surviving Folk Music, to wide critical acclaim. His book was named one of the top ten books of 2018 by the Wall Street Journal and Christopher has presented his work at the New York Public Library, the Gennadius Library of Athens as well as the Odeon Conservatoire in Athens, among other venues. He currently splits his time between the United States and Greece.
Udayan Prasad has been directing documentaries, television drama and feature films since graduating from the National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield, UK. Among his numerous television credits are five single dramas all written for BBC Television - three of them by Simon Gray and two of them by Alan Bennett, ultimately granting him two Golden Gate Awards and two Bafta Nominations. His first theatrical feature was Brothers in Trouble in 1995 (winning the Golden Alexander Award for Best First Feature at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival), followed by the awarded My son the fanatic in 1997 (Directors Fortnight Cannes Film Festival, Best Feature at the Potsdam Film Festival), Gabriel & Me in 2000 (Edinburgh Film Festival) and OPA! in 2005 (Toronto International Film Festival). His latest feature The Yellow Handkerchief (Sundance Film Festival) was released in the United States in 2010. When not actively involved in a production, he is a frequent visiting lecturer on directing and screenwriting programmes at several film schools including The National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield, UK; London Film School; The Wajda School in Warsaw and the National Film, Television and Theatre School in Łódź́́, Poland. He is also an advisor and mentor on various international directing and screenwriting workshops.
Author and Commentator
Chris Skinner is known as the most influential person in technology in the UK. He is an independent commentator on the financial markets and fintech, through his blog theFinanser.com, as well as author of the bestselling books Digital Bank, ValueWeb and Digital Human. Chris is described by Seth Wheeler (Former Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the White House) as “one of the most authoritative voices on Fintech anywhere”. In his day job, he is Chair of the European networking forum The Financial Services Club and Nordic Finance Innovation, as well as a Non-Executive Director of the Fintech consultancy firm 11:FS and on the advisory boards of various firms. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand, as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News and Thomson Reuters. He is also a regular commentator on BBC News, Sky News, CNBC and Bloomberg about banking issues, a judge on many awards programs as well as having worked closely with leading banks such as HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Michael is an award-winning designer, a traveller and speaker. He’s spent the last decade in the industry as a motion designer and animator working with major brands like Nike and Sony as well as start-ups and social enterprises. Two years ago, in a quest to redesign his life he decided to ditch the hustle culture, embraced minimalism and has been travelling full time, living out of a 30L backpack ever since. His goal is to help people re-evaluate the way they spend their time and resources and to start living more intentionally. His next project is about creating sustainable and affordable housing and a co-living community from shipping containers, addressing to people who are finding the cost or availability of suitable housing preventative for the life they want to live.
Co-Founder @ EarlySense, Entrepreneur
Avner Halperin is Co-Founder and Board Member at EarlySense. Avner was CEO of EarlySense for 15 years, bringing the company from the idea stage to developing breakthrough analytics and sensing technology, with over one million patients served and tens of thousands of lives saved or significantly affected. Previously, Avner was CEO of Emmunet, VP Marketing at Radcom (NASDAQ: RDCM) and R&D team leader at Eldat Communications (acquired by Pricer(PRIC.ST)). Prior to that, he was Department Head of an R&D Unit in the Israeli Defence Forces Intelligence Corps, where he won the Intelligence Innovation Award. Avner earned an M.Sc. in Applied Physics from Tel Aviv University and an MBA from the MIT Sloan Fellows Executive MBA Program. He has been teaching courses on economy and entrepreneurship in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with his research papers and 30 US Patents having been cited close to 3,000 times.
At just ten years of age, Issy Simpson has been hailed as one of the most unique magicians in the world, after she captured the hearts of the UK public on the last series of Britain’s Got Talent, forcing Simon Cowell to exclaim, “This is like real life Harry Potter”. Since then, she has become one of the most watched magicians online with over 200 million views and an army of avid fans. After BGT, she signed to the same management team as Daniel Radcliffe, appeared as a special guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, headlined at the world’s largest Magic Convention and has been given a prestigious award at the world famous Magic Circle. Issy also appeared in a run of sold-out shows in Abu Dhabi and made her US prime-time TV debut on NBC’s “Little Big Shots”. Most recently, she was invited by Simon Cowell to the US yet again to appear on the NBC TV show “AGT Champions”, which featured the greatest 50 acts to ever appear on the worldwide franchise, and where she was one of the youngest performers to partake.
Entrepreneur, Scientist & Sportswoman
Born in rural Australia, science proved to be Renée Watson’s catalyst for exploration and discovery, sparking her imagination early and leading to a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. Her early experience working with the science community inspired a new goal; to shatter the preconceived ideas about the world of STEM and make it accessible to everyone, regardless of background, financial status or gender. Renée has been on the road to giving a jaw-dropping science experience to 1 million children ever since she landed in the UK in 2000 with a mere €16 to her name. On the way, she has raised more than €4.5 million for emerging scientific research charities, won awards for STEM leadership and role modeling and in 2016 launched The Curiosity Box, a STEM activity subscription box, that is now sold across the EU, Australia and South Korea. Currently, Renée is taking on the UK primary education system, championing a move away from test-led classrooms and back to celebrating a child’s innate inquisitive nature through curiosity-led learning. She also plans to set the rugby pitch alight in 2019 when she’ll co-captain the Europe over 35s team at the Touch Rugby World Cup.
Dr. Costas Bekas (Distinguished Research Staff Member & Manager, IBM Research - Zurich), is responsible for foundational research in AI, spanning areas that include ML/DL, knowledge extraction and representation, new computing paradigms for AI (with applications in Healthcare & Life Sciences), Materials Discovery and acceleration of R&D. Costas studied at the pioneering Computer Engineering & Informatics Department of the University of Patras, Greece. He received B. Eng., MSc and Ph.D. diplomas in 1998, 2001 and 2003 respectively, along Prof. E. Gallopoulos. From 2003 to 2005, he worked as a postdoctoral associate with Professor Yousef Saad at the Computer Science & Engineering Department, University of Minnesota, USA. Dr. Bekas’ main focus is in Cognitive Systems and their impact in industry, science and business. His research agenda includes Machine & Deep Learning, large scale analytics, HPC and very large scale distributed systems. He is a recipient of the ACM Gordon Bell Prize (2013, 2015), as well as the PRACE Award (2012).
Lisa Lang is a German entrepreneur, technologist, and international speaker. Her brands ElektroCouture and ThePowerHouse are leading agencies for FashionTech, wearable technologies and smart textiles manufacturing. From her experience as an entrepreneur, she has gained recognition as one of Forbes Europe’s Top 50 Women in Tech, top 100 most influential people in wearable tech worldwide, one of 25 leaders in fashion and technology worldwide and has been listed as one of the 50 most important women for innovation & startups in the EU. Lisa founded ElektroCouture in 2013, believing in the opportunity to fuse technology with fashion even though she did not come from a background in fashion. With the success of ElektroCouture, Lisa then started ThePowerHouse in response to the growing demand from companies searching for educational workshops, prototypes, and needs for consultation on FashionTech. Beyond her work on her companies, she has been a mentor for fashion and tech-focused programs, as well as has also advised the Ministerium für Wirtschaft Arbeit Energie und Verkehr and the European Union on the future of fashion technology within Germany and Europe. In 2018, she was included as an expert in the prestigious ‘The State of Fashion 2019’, an annual report written and researched by the Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company.
Dimitris Dimopoulos started out in comedy as a stand-up comedian in 1996, as part of the comedy group "Comedy Nights". As an actor and singer, he has collaborated with the Greek National Opera, the music theatre company "The Beggars' Operas" as well as commercial theatre and dubbing companies. He has written the librettos for the operas "Twilight of the Debts", "AirRossini" and "Yasou Aida!", for which he was awarded the 2012 "Karolos Koun" Honourable Mention for Greek Play by the Association of Greek Theatre and Music Critics. He has directed the music theatre pieces "Kafka Fragmente, "Das Schubert Diploma" and "Evening Songs", the operetta "Satanerie" as well as the theatre pieces "The Minions of Midas" and "Tsaika!". As a translator, he has worked in subtitling, dubbing, theatre and opera. He speaks greek, german, english, spanish and russian and holds a degree in Acting (Iasmos Drama School) as well as a degree in Tourism (Technical Education Institution of Athens). He is also a graduate of the German School of Athens.
Musician, Network technician, Activist
Giorgos Mparkouris completed his studies in Computing and IT in 1985 and during the 80s, he worked in a record company, was a radio producer in the national broadcasting as well as had his own band. He went on to work as a technician in computer labs in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens as well as IT Manager in the Greek Center of European Studies, leaving his band days behind. Up until the early years of the economic crisis, he continued to work as a freelancer. However, in late 2011 he ended up as homeless and sought refuge in a homeless guest house, from which he left in 2013 firstly to move in with friends and later on in a commune up until 2017. It was in that year that he started to teach computer science in refugee communities at Tech Talent School. In 2018, he was assigned the coordination of Start Project, an educational program on computers and technology for economically challenged social groups, supported by the Municipality of Athens and Microsoft. During all these years, he has traveled extensively in many destinations including Europe, the Middle East and South America, in his quest to learn more about new cultures.
Writer / Journalist
Mina Dennert is a Swedish writer, journalist, and the founder of the #iamhere network, which has inspired over a hundred thousand people from all over the world to stand up and work for a democratic and inclusive society. Through the Facebook groups of the same name, members counteract disinformation, alternative facts and hate speech. The purpose of #iamhere is to encourage people to speak up and engage in online debate; To strengthen journalists and politicians and opinion formers by making people react and stand up when others are exposed to hatred and threats. To stop the polarization by taking the political discussion in a nuanced and factual manner. And to prevent the spread of disinformation by helping others with sources of factual information. Social media has a huge impact on our lives and on the political climate. It is changing our world and we need to become involved in that development. Members of the network notice that they have become much more politically aware and better at debate and discussion since getting involved. They have been able to practice their civil rights, and as a result have experienced increased feelings of courage in general. Mina has won several awards for her work, including the prestigious Anna Lindh prize in 2017, for supporting just and democratic causes.