21 Jul


Keynote Speaker

Dr. Ralph E. Taylor-Smith, General Partner at Battelle Ventures
Dr. Ralph Taylor-Smith has a background in engineering, applied-science and technology development, finance and business management. He gained his academic training from Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), receiving a PhD in Engineering (Chemical & Biological Engineering focus) and an MBA in Finance (Corporate Finance & Strategic Planning focus). He is currently a General Partner of Battelle Ventures, a private equity investment firm which manages $260Million in venture capital funds. At Battelle, Ralph is a member of the firm’s Investment Committee and he covers all aspects of the venture investment business, including deal sourcing, due-diligence, deal negotiation and transaction closing, Board of Director duties, start-up company development and financial exits. Ralph has led ten (10) venture investments for Battelle and he currently serves on the Board of Directors for six (6) Companies. Prior to entering the venture capital industry, Ralph gained significant experience in investment banking, business development and technology R&D. He worked previously as an Investment Banker on Wall Street at GoldmanSachs and JPMorgan focusing on mergers/acquisitions and IPOs for technology industry companies. Earlier in his career, Ralph worked as a Senior Research Scientist and Engineer at Bell Labs and in Business Development at Lucent Technologies and AT&T. He holds twelve patents for innovations in semiconductor microelectronic devices, optical-fiber & photonics, fuel cells, flat panel displays, and nanotechnology systems. Ralph was selected as a Kauffman Fellow by the Center for Venture Capital Education & Entrepreneurial Leadership, affiliated with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He was also appointed a Robert Toigo Foundation Fellow in Finance & Technology Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan School of Business Management and appointed a PriceBabson SEE Fellow in Entrepreneurship Education & University Curriculum Development at Babson College Center for Entrepreneurship. In addition to his several for-profit Corporate Board Directorships, Ralph currently serves various non-profit educational organizations, academic colleges and universities as Advisory Board Member or Board of Trustees Member including Princeton University Engineering and the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) unit of NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration); he also works regularly with the US National Science Foundation (NSF) on SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) programs.

Prof. Francis Waldvogel, Chairman, Novartis Venture Funds
Prof. Francis A. Waldvogel, a Swiss citizen, graduated from the University of Geneva Medical School in 1964 and undertook postgraduate training in medicine, infectious diseases and clinical microbiology at Harvard from 1966-1970. He then joined the academic staff at the University Hospital of Geneva to head Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology until 1986. In 1982, he became full Professor of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief in internal medicine, and from 1990 to 2001 Chairman of the Department of Medicine. In 1995, after having served as Vice-President of the Swiss Science Council, he was elected by the Federal Government to become the President of the Swiss Polytechnic Institutes, a position he held until 2004. His scientific activities led to more than 150 publications, several books, numerous invited professorships and lectures, and elections into several Academies (Switzerland, Leopoldina-European Academy etc.). He is the founder of the World Knowledge Dialogue, aimed at a better dialogue between the human and natural sciences. He is President of several humanitarian Foundations, and Advisory Board Chairman of Novartis Venture Funds, investing in young start-up companies in the life sciences. He is also Chairman of Symbiotics Inc, a young start-up company active in the field of microfinance-sustainable finance in emerging countries.


Ambassador Walter Fust, Board Chairman at African Innovation Foundation
After his studies in public administration at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, Ambassador Fust commenced his diplomatic career serving at the Swiss Embassies in Baghdad and Tokyo. He subsequently assumed various functions in the Federal Administration and in the private sector, including the role of personal assistant to Federal Councilor Dr. Kurt Furgler. He was then Managing Director of the Swiss Trade Promotion Office (OSEC) and Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior. Ambassador Fust headed the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for 15 years. Since his retirement, he holds mandates in the UN (Broadband Commission ITU/UNESCO, Committee of Experts on Public Administration/CEPA).  He further serves on the Board of a number of international institutions (Coalition for a Dialog on Africa/CoDA, IRGC, Library of Alexandria) and national foundations.  He is currently Board Chairman at the African Innovation Foundation. As an internationally well-known and widely connected personality, he brings particular knowledge and expertise in trade, development and humanitarian affairs. @IPAprize