UC Berkeley’s Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East Announces New Advisory Council Members and Upcoming Berlin Conference

Berkeley, California (EastBayDaily) — The Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East (BPED) announces newest members of its Advisory Council and June 2015 Conference in Berlin amid a period of tremendous growth.

The BPED Advisory Council offers strategic guidance on the ongoing development of the Berkeley Program, bringing together leading thinkers and innovators to address how to build and sustain open societies, polities and economies. The Advisory Council includes the following distinguished new members:

Stephan Chambers, Chairman, Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Stephan Chambers is the Director of International Strategy at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and a senior research fellow at Lincoln College. He is also Chairman of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, which he helped to found and sits on the advisory board of Princeton University Press. Stephan’s vast experience in the areas of entrepreneurship and business will help contribute to our conferences and projects that are focused on entrepreneurship.

Joel Kellman, Co-Founder, GGV Capital

Joel Kellman is a co-founder of GGV Capital. Previously, he was a founder and longtime partner of the Silicon Valley law firm, Fenwick & West LLP. Joel also co-founded Fenwick & West investments, KLM Capital (a cross-border venture capital fund), and Utah Ventures (now called Pelion Ventures). Joel’s experience in Silicon Valley and in venture capital will also be an asset for our entrepreneurship-related projects.

Babak Parviz, Vice-President, Amazon and Creator of Google Glass

Babak Parviz is a Vice President at Amazon and the creator of Google Glass. He is a pioneer of building contact lens microsystems for healthcare monitoring and computing applications and has been active in developing technologies that interface with biology and medicine for a number of years. He advises start-up companies in a range of industries from biotech to consumer electronics. Babak’s ingenuity and prominent role in the tech industry will be invaluable in many areas of our program.

Lily Sarafan, Health Tech Entrepreneur and Advisor

Lily Sarafan has built one of the largest consumer companies in North America with more than 5000 employees in 100 markets. She also sits on ten high-impact boards, including the Stanford Alumni Association Board of Directors and the National Iranian American Council Board of Directors. Lily is a frequent speaker and host at events across diverse audiences including Women’s Leadership Forum and TEDxKish. Her creative insights and experience are invaluable and have already made on impact on BPED’s future projects and plans.

AnnaLee Saxenian, Dean, UC Berkeley’s School of Information

AnnaLee Saxenian is professor and dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Information. Her latest book, The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in a Global Economy explores how and why immigrant engineers from Silicon Valley are transferring their technology entrepreneurship to emerging regions in their home countries. Professor Saxenian’s expertise in entrepreneurship diasporas is a key asset, as BPEDME has a keen focus on the relationship between expatriate entrepreneurs and their connection with their homeland.

Caroline L. Scullin, VP of External Relations, The Wilson Center

Caroline Scullin is Vice President for External Relations at the Wilson Center. She has more than 25 years of experience in strategic communications and external relations. Most recently, Scullin served as Communications Director for the Center for International Private Enterprise and before that as Director of Public Relations for the United States Government Printing Office. Caroline’s expertise in foreign policy will be extremely useful in BPED’s policy-related initiatives.

Josette Sheeran, President and CEO, Asia Society

Josette Sheeran is the seventh president and CEO of Asia Society. In the position, she is responsible for leading and advancing the organization’s work throughout the U.S. and Asia, and across its disciplines of arts and culture, policy and business, and education. Josette was also the former Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum. Josette’s broad experience in economics and her current role in Asian development will be instrumental in BPED’s future endeavors.

Yahya Tabesh, Professor, Sharif University of Technology

Yahya Tabesh is a visiting scholar at Stanford University and distinguished faculty of the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran. He served as the chairman of the department of Mathematical Sciences at Sharif for several years. He was also director of Math and Computer Olympiads in Iran. Professor Tabesh was a keynote speaker at the Bridge 2014 conference, and his we are excited to have his knowledge and experience at BPED.

The Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East also announces the upcoming iBRIDGE Berlin Conference, for which BPED is teaming up with the Technical University of Braunschweig to serve as the event’s hosts. iBRIDGE Berlin is the sequel to iBRIDGE Berkeley 2014, a highly successful conference on the challenges and opportunities of Iran’s high-tech sector. The Conference will bring together entrepreneurs from the United States, Europe and Asia with their counterparts from Iran to explore the role that a high-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem can play in establishing a sustainable economy and engine of innovation.

“The conference will examine the circumstances under which high tech entrepreneurship and innovation can emerge as engines of inclusive growth, reducing the country’s dependence on extractive industries, expanding the size of its middle class, reversing the flight of capital, and promoting the circulation of the brain-drain,” shared Dr. Dariush Zahedi, Director of the UC Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East and Founding Member of iBRIDGES.

In addition to featuring dozens of plenary sessions and panels, the conference will be accompanied by many panels on entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and management. More information may be found at the conference website, ibridges.org. This educational conference follows closely from last year’s event at Berkeley, and like its predecessor, is in full compliance with US sanctions laws and regulations concerning Iran. However, with the prospects for the reduction and eventual lifting of sanctions improving, the timing is opportune for exploration of the role that high technology can play in Iran’s economic development and diversification. The conference will take place June 4-6, 2015 at CityCube Berlin. The Berlin meeting builds on highly successful events BPED has organized or participated in over the past year including the White House Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakesh, Morocco.

BPED is working on a number of additional projects in the coming months, including the Annual BPED – Borsa Istanbul conference, which will be held in Istanbul on November 12, 2015. The conference will focus on Building Innovation Economies in the Middle East: Ideals and Realities. Another project is the Local Role Models Project, in which prominent entrepreneurs of Middle Eastern decent, both in the Middle East and abroad, share their experiences and advice for the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs through compelling video interviews. Finally, the BPED Team look forward to the launch of its Entrepreneurship Boot Camp Project to provide conceptual and hands-on training to promising and budding entrepreneurs from the Middle East region.


Kathryn Zakskorn


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