Skip to main content

Stephen Sackur, the presenter of HARDtalk, BBC World News' flagship current affairs interview programme, has been a journalist with BBC News since 1986.

Broadcasting across BBC World News, BBC News Channel and BBC World Service, Stephen has interviewed many high-profile guests.

In November 2010, Stephen was awarded the "International TV Personality of the Year Award" by the Association of International Broadcasters.

Before taking over HARDtalk, Stephen was based in Brussels for three years as the BBC's Europe Correspondent. He travelled across Europe to cover major stories around the continent, including Europe's worst terror attack of recent times in Madrid in 2004, and the expansion of the European Union from 15 countries to 25.

In 1990, Stephen was appointed as a BBC Foreign Correspondent. He was the BBC Middle East Correspondent in Cairo (from 1992 to 1995), in Jerusalem (from 1995 to 1997) and in Washington (from 1997 to 2002). He has contributed with countless articles to The Observer, The London Review of Books, New Statesman, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, among others.

Born in Lincolnshire, England, Stephen was educated at both Cambridge and Harvard University.

After six years managing EU education programmes with the European Commission, Maryline entered the media business in 2007. She held business development positions at Shanghai Daily and EU affairs media company EurActiv. She joined Science|Business in 2011 where she now leads the company’s operations and growth strategy. She is also an external evaluator for several EU higher education and research and innovation programmes. Maryline holds degrees from Université La Sorbonne, Università di Bologna and Université de Louvain.

Simon leads on network engagement and development for Science|Business in line with the company’s growth strategy. He previously held directorial positions with The Academy of Business in Society (ABIS) network and IDAS Global, a technology solutions provider to the global cash industry. Within these roles, he designed and coordinated a wide range of international projects focused on sustainability-driven innovation, both in research and education. Simon holds a Masters Degree from the University of Oxford and an MBA from HEC Paris School of Management.

Céline Charveriat is the Executive Director at IEEP since 2016 and she has over 15 years’ worth of experience in influencing debates, policies, and practices in the field of sustainable development and climate change.

She began her career in Washington DC as a researcher at the Peterson Institute and the Inter-American Development Bank and then worked for over 10 years with Oxfam International. She first represented the agency at the WTO (Make Trade Fair campaign) and in 2011 she became Oxfam’s Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, based in Brussels, focusing on the issue of European climate change policy and COP21.
As Sustainable Innovation Senior Manager at Kering, Christine’s work focuses on innovations that can fast track a transition to a sustainable and circular apparel industry. Previously, at Kering, she worked on sustainable sourcing. She also worked at INSEAD’s Entrepreneurship Centre and has start-up experience when she managed the socially conscious apparel start-up, Edun Live (founded by Ali Hewson and Bono). Before that, she practised corporate law in the venture capital and private equity sectors. Christine attended Harvard University, has a JD from Boston College Law School and an MBA from INSEAD.
Christine Lang

Christine Lang is an entrepreneur in biotechnology. In 2001 CL founded the company Organobalance GmbH and established it as an R&D facility to develop novel microbial active ingredients and strains for food, feed, personal care and pharma applications. She managed the exit in 2016 by selling the company to Novozymes A/S. Till June 2018, she was the company’s CEO. Christine Lang is co-founder and partner of BELANO medical AG focused on production and sales of microbiotic products for human health. She acts as a consultant for the German government for bioeconomy topics. She is an Associate Professor for Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Technical University Berlin and President of the German Association of General and Applied Microbiology (VAAM).

Christophe Rahier
Christophe Rahier is Senior Vice President High Tech Materials, Strategy & new Businesses since January 2018.
He was 4 years Senior Vice President - Strategic Planning, Materials and Components Worldwide.
He has held a variety of managerial Research and Innovation roles:
  • 2 years Internal consultant in charge of Corporate organisation studies
  • 8 years Passenger Car and Light Truck Tireline Pre-Development Worldwide Program Director.
  • 5 years Scientific Computing and Engineering Director.
He has an Engineering background and a PhD in Applied Mathematics.

Dirk Pilat, a Dutch national, is Deputy Director of the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation. He helps oversee OECD’s work on science and technology, innovation, productivity and business dynamics, digital economy policy, consumer policy and industry policies. 

Dirk joined the OECD in February 1994 and has worked on many policy issues since then, including innovation, the role of digital technologies for economic growth, climate change and environmental innovation, labour markets, regulatory reform, global value chains, productivity and entrepreneurship, as well as health innovation. He is currently helping to coordinate the OECD's Going Digital project, which is a multidisciplinary, cross-cutting initiative that aims to help policymakers better understand the digital transformation that is taking place and help develop recommendations for pro-active policies that will help to drive greater growth and societal well-being.

Dirk was responsible for the OECD’s Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy from 2006 to January 2009, and for the Committee on Industry, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from February 2009 to December 2012.

Before joining the OECD, he was a researcher at the University of Groningen, where he also earned his PhD in Economics, working primarily on productivity and economic growth

Eleni Zika is the Head of Programme of Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) and an active promoter of the development of a sustainable circular bioeconomy in Europe.

Ms Zika has more than 15 years’ experience in research and programme management as well as in science and technology policy focusing particularly on the socioeconomic impact of innovation. She previously served as Head of Sector for Fundamental Life Sciences at the European Research Council (ERC), overseeing funding operations in the domain of health. Before joining the EU institutions, Ms Zika was responsible for the strategy and implementation of International Policy at the UK Medical Research Council. She is a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow of the US National Academies, and holds a PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.

Elsi Katainen is Finnish Member of the European Parliament in Renew Europe Group. She is a member and vice-chair of AGRI committee and a substitute member of INTA.

Back in Finland, she has a dairy farm together with her family and they are forest owners as well. Mrs Katainen was rapporteur in Horizon Europe’s Agri cluster at Autumn 2018. During the last mandate, Mrs Katainen was also ALDE shadow rapporteur for UTP directive.

Fabio Fava

Professor at the School of Engineering of the University of Bologna (Italy), he has about 170 papers on peer-reviewed international journals in the fields of Biowaste Biorefinery, Blue Biotechnology and Bioeconomy, where he coordinated the FP7 projects NAMASTE and BIOCLEAN and participated in other 7 FP7 projects. 

He is the current Italian Representative in the: 

a) Horizon2020 SC2 Programming Committee.

b) States Representatives Group of the BBI JU.

c) EuroMed GSOs BLUEMED WG. 

He is the Italian Representative for the Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Converging Technologies at OECD (Paris) and the scientific coordinator of the Italian Bioeconomy strategy.

With an MBA from ESCP EUROPE, Françoise manages Ynsect finances. Françoise has 15+ years of experience driving profitability and business development for international pharmaceutical and animal nutrition companies such as Adisseo. She has monitored Finance matters within project teams of several plant buildings, including greenfield projects in France and abroad. She has led the project financing, ensured the profitability of the new businesses from the ramp-up phase to the targeted market share. 

Giovanni De Santi

Giovanni De Santi is, since September 2017, Director of the Directorate for Sustainable Resources at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. The Directorate provides independent scientific evidence to support the development, implementation, evaluation and coherence of EU policies, mainly in the areas of agriculture and rural development, development cooperation, environment and climate change, blue growth and fisheries, the bioeconomy, industry and trade.

He previously held a position of Director of the JRC Institute for Energy and Transport. He has been working for the European Commission's Joint Research Centre since 1985. Giovanni De Santi holds a university degree in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering and a PhD degree in Fluidodynamics.

Ines Costa

Before being nominated as Secretary of State for the Environment, she was Aid to the Minister of Environment and Energy Transition of Portugal. 

Previously, she was senior consultant at 3DRIVERS, in strategic analysis and public policy in resource efficiency and management.

Senior researcher at IN+ Centre for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research, with a PhD in Environmental Engineering on the policy and technological challenge of industrial symbiosis in Portugal.

Author and co-author of scientific papers, technical reports and books on industrial ecology, industrial symbiosis and waste management, as well as eco innovation. 

Since February 2012, Jaana Husu-Kallio has been the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland. Since 2016 she has been a chair of the management board of European Food Safety Authority, a member since 2012.

Previously her roles included Director-General of the Finnish Food Safety Authority (from 2006) and Deputy-Director General of DG Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission (from 2002). Before she joined the European Commission she worked in the Ministry as a Chief Veterinary Officer.

Dr Husu-Kallio graduated as a veterinarian from the University of Helsinki (1984) and attained a PhD in veterinary microbiology in 1990 and a specialisation degree in infectious animal diseases in 1992. She has been a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry since 2004 and received a Doctor Honoris Causa by the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Helsinki in 2008. She acted as a member of the Management Board of the University of Helsinki 2010 – 2013 and as the Chairman 2014 – 2017.

Jean-Eric Paquet has been working as the Director-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) since April 2018. He started working with the European Commission in 1993. From 2002 until 2004, he was the Deputy Head of Cabinet of former Commissioner for Research, Philippe Busquin. Then he worked as a Head of Unit within the DG Mobility and Transport before becoming the Director. In 2013, he joined the DG for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. Before starting his current position, Mr Paquet served as Deputy Secretary General of the Juncker Commission.

Joanna Dupont-Inglis first joined EuropaBio, the European Association of Bioindustries, in February 2009 and has since worked with its healthcare, agricultural and industrial biotech sectors as well as with its National Associations Council and SME Platform. 

EuropaBio’s vision is for Innovative Biotechnology Benefitting People and Planet and the Association’s mission is to be the recognised voice of the European biotech community, championing world-class solutions for society’s challenges. 

In September 2018 Joanna was appointed as EuropaBio’s Secretary General, having held the role of Deputy Secretary General since March of the same year. Prior to this, Joanna was Director for the Industrial Biotech sector for several years during which time she helped lead industry efforts to create the first €3.7 billion Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU), chaired the EU Bioeconomy Stakeholder’s Panel and was a board member of SusChem.

Before arriving at EuropaBio Joanna worked for a decade in consultancy in the environmental, agricultural, healthcare, development and energy efficiency sectors together with a broad range of industry, NGOs, member state governments, EU institutions and international organisations. Joanna’s formal training is in environmental science and European studies. She is married to a Belgian, has two children and is a dual British/Irish national.

Dr John Bell is the Healthy Planet Director in DG Research & Innovation. He is responsible for leading the Research and Innovation transitions on Climate Change within planetary boundaries, Bioeconomy, Food Systems, Environment and Biodiversity, Oceans and Arctic, Circular Economy, Water and Bio-based innovations. This includes harnessing the investments of 10 bn Horizon Europe, Circular Bioeconomy, the EU Bioeconomy Strategy, and Governing Board of 3.7 bn in Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking, as well as delivering policy initiatives as FOOD2030, and the All Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.

Prof. Dr. Justus Wesseler holds the chair in Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. 

He has a degree in agricultural, environmental and natural resource economics from the University of Göttingen, Germany. 

His research work is on bioeconomy economics and policies. The major focus is on the contribution of value chains to improve sustainability and the impact of new technologies and regulations on the value chain in this respect. 

He is member of the International Consortium of Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR), coordinator of the EU funded project Monitoring the Bioeconomy (BioMonitor) and co-editor of EU Bioeconomy Economics and Policies 9Volume I + II) published with Palgrave. 

Lene Lange

Full professor, University of Copenhagen, Aalborg University and Technical University of Denmark. Reached Research Director level positions in both industry (Novozymes) and academia (Aalborg University). Extensive experience from all parts of value-chain: research, technology, innovation, patenting, knowledge management, and commercialisation. Vice Chair of BBI JU Scientific Committee. Member of the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel; Member of the Danish Bioeconomy Panel. Member of blue-bioeconomy advisory group at the Icelandic Chairmanship. Member of the Scientific Committee, World-Wildlife-Foundation. International R&D-Management experience: Former Board Chair, CIMMYT (Wheat&Maize Research); and Program Chair, IRRI (Rice Research).

Own research-laboratory since 1986. Discovery of novel enzymes for improved biomass conversion; generating value from marine agricultural and industrial side streams. Co-inventor of new peptide-based functional annotation for targeted automated enzyme discovery. Approx. 250 scientific peer-reviewed papers (ca40 2015-2018).

Luisa Prista

Luisa Prista is Head of Department at EASME dealing with the implementation of EU Research & Innovation Programmes.

She is an engineer in Applied Thermodynamics. She has been a researcher, a lecturer at the University of Lisbon, and an engineer in manufacturing, energy and construction fields in Portugal, Italy and Switzerland. She headed the InfoEnergie office at the Swiss Federal Government. In 1994 she joined in European Commission in Brussels where she had different management positions, related to policy, legislation, research, innovation and at DG R&I and DG GROW. Lately she was dealing with sustainable chemistry, plastics, bio and circular economy. 

After 12 years of experience in Procter&Gamble R&D and Marketing with a sustained record of delivering banked contributions, Marcello Somma recognised the opportunity to leverage the sustainability challenge as a driver of innovation and competitive advantage. As part of the Italian Rientro dei Cervelli (Brain Gain) program, he moved back to Italy in 2009 to lead Fater’s sustainable development and innovation program. 

Since 2010, he has become an award-winning pioneer in sustainable innovation and circular economy. He is the inventor of many patented processes for upcycling of post-consumer absorbent hygiene product waste, and his leadership role has led Fater to establish itself as a corporate name of sustainability in Italy, as testified by several awards achieved under Marcello’s tenure, such as the EMAS Award 2011, the GPP Award 2012 by the Italian Ministry of Environment, and the top spot in Great Place to Work’s 2013 Best Sustainable Company ranking. Marcello Somma also regularly lectures on green economy at the MBA Alma Graduate School, University of Bologna, and his sustainable innovation role and contributions have been covered in both specialist and mainstream media.

Maria Barbosa is Professor in microalgal biotechnology and director of AlgaePARC ( at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. She holds a PhD in Bioprocess Engineering obtained at Wageningen University.  She has worked at ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Switzerland and at EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation), Germany.

She presently coordinates several large research programs with more than 50 industrial partners and 20 academic partners, covering the entire microalgae production chain.

Her scientific interests are on microalgae strain improvement, cultivation and scale-up.

Prof. Maria da Graça Carvalho is Member of the European Parliament for her second term, joining the EPP Group. She sits in the Committees on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) and on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM). She is a mechanical engineer, full professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico (University of Lisbon) and she has built a 30 years’ experience in research in the areas of energy and climate change and in the policy fields of science, technology and innovation. In the previous parliamentary term, she was rapporteur for the EP of the Specific Programme Implementing Horizon2020, while in the past she acted twice as Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education in Portugal. 

During the last 15 years, she covered the roles of Principal Adviser of the President of the European Commission Mr. Barroso in the areas of Science, Innovation, Energy, Environment and Climate Change and senior advisor of Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, while she’s being member of the Scientific Advisory Mechanism until she was elected in 2019.

Maria Spyraki is the awarded MEP of the year 2019 for Industry, Research, and Innovation. She is now serving in her second mandate in the European Parliament as member of the Committees on Industry, Research, and Energy (ITRE), on Regional Development (REGI) and on the Environment (ENVI). She has also worked for 22 years as a journalist in her home country Greece. She has also worked in the Press Office of the European Parliament in Athens from 2003 to 2004, as well as the office of Greek Commissioner to the EU, Mr Stavros Dimas, for the period 2004-2009.

Maria Spyraki has served as the Spokesperson of Nea Demokratia and is an elected member of the Nea Demokratia Executive Board. Her first degree is in Chemistry and she also studied economics and energy policy.

After a career in the multinational chemicals industry, Nelo Emerencia became Director Programming at the Bio-based Industries Consortium in April 2015. Since 2018, he also coordinates the BioEconomy partnership of the EU Thematic Smart Specialisation platforms for interregional innovation projects.

Nelo studied Chemical Engineering at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. During his career, Nelo was seconded to PlasticsEurope in Brussels as Communications and Public Affairs Director. Later also at the Dutch Chemical Industry Association as Education & Innovation Manager and Secretary of the Dutch Chemistry Board leading the bio-based economy activities for the chemical industry.

Niklas has a Doctor of Science degree in biotechnology from Aalto University in Finland. He has also studied economics and innovation strategies. His job career begun in 1999, when he took on the position of Research Scientist at Cultor Technology Center (today DuPont). He has since held the positions of Project Manager, Team Leader, Program Manager, Technology Manager and Vice President for Research at Aalto University, VTT, CLIC Innovation and Metsä Fibre, respectively.

He is currently CEO of Metsä Spring, the venture capital arm of Metsä Group. Niklas is currently also Board member of the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) and the start-up company Woodio.

Per Lyrvall joined Stora Enso in 1994 and is a member of the Group Leadership Team.  In August 2008, Per was appointed Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the board. In 2013 Per was also appointed  as Stora Enso’s Country Manager Sweden.

In his capacity as Country Manager, Per is responsible for Stora Enso’s Swedish Public Affairs agenda and has numerous contacts with Swedish politicians and other public stakeholders, driving Stora Enso’s renewability and bio-economy agenda.

Member of the Board of Montes del Plata, Uruguay and Bergvik Skog AB, Sweden. Deputy Member of the Board of the Swedish Forest  Federation.Per holds a LL.M. Masters of Law Degree, Stockholm University

Philippe Mengal is the Executive Director of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) since 1st of October 2015. His mission is to further consolidate the role and responsibilities of the BBI JU, being the chief executive responsible for the day-to-day management of the BBI JU.

Mr Mengal trained as an engineer in Chemistry and Bio-industry at the Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech University and later on in Strategic Innovation Management at INSEAD - Fontainebleau in France.

He started his career in 1990 in France as R&D engineer in the field of biomass fractionation and purification. In 1995 he became Technical Director of a research centre dedicated to biomass valorisation and between 1990 and 1997 he taught in a Master programme on chemical engineering in Rennes- France. He has published a number of scientific papers and awarded five patented license agreements.

In his 25 years of professional experience before joining BBI JU, Mr Mengal held strategic managerial positions in France and Belgium such as CEO of three companies, Global R&D Director of a multinational and Senior Consultant in food ingredient, engineering and life sciences industries.

Raul Kirjanen

Raul Kirjanen has been since the very beginning building up Graanul Invest into biggest wood pellet producer in Europe, one of the largest forest owners in Estonia and one of the biggest renewable energy producers in the Baltic states. Recently the company made also its first acquisition in the United States, Texas.

Subsidiary of Graanul Invest, Graanul Biotech is developing a novel wood fractionation process that could provide biomaterials for various industries in Europe and beyond. Company is also a partner in numerous consortiums developing solutions for future bioeconomy.

Raul Kirjanen’s main statement is that if we want to develop bioeconomy and bring it operational on market terms, we need stable policy on how we look at forest management and sustainability. Healthy and growing forests are the cornerstones of the bioeconomy and we need very long-term plans here, to give investors security to do large scale innovative investments.

Rosanna Serra

With a Master’s Degree in Materials Engineering (1984), her first job experience was in 1985-86 in Montedison Group in the field of polymers application in the transport industry.
In 1986, she joined the Instituto Donegani Research Centre, where she gained experience in polymers development. In 1989, she joined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group, where she focused on materials engineering in automotive applications and became leader of the FARE project, which dealt with car recycling.
As of 2010, Rosanna Serra became responsible for the Group Materials Labs for FCA and CNHi, to ensure competences and activities on materials from research, innovation, product development applications to field and end-of-life issues of products.
Since 2016, she is the Director of Global Materials Labs at the Centro Ricerche Fiat, FCA.

Born in 1983, Seán is a beef and sheep farmer from County Roscommon in the west of Ireland. In 2008 he completed his agricultural education and started farming after returning home from college. He also joined Macra na Feirme, the Irish young farmers’ organisation, and was the 35th National President of Macra na Feirme from 2015 to 2017.

In July 2017, he was elected a CEJA Vice President and is now completing his second term in the role, having been re-elected for the 2019-2021 mandate. Seán has also represented CEJA in the CAP Civil Dialogue Group and the Meat Market Observatory.

FVA partner from 1995, she has integrated her specialisation in Psychology of work with multimedia and communication. 

Susanna Albertini is currently involved in several EU funded projects, supporting the promotion, awareness-raising and communication of the bioeconomy (BIOVOICES, BIOBRIDGES, LIFT and BIOWAYS).

She is one of the promoters of the European Bioeconomy Network, an alliance of EU funded projects to support the bioeconomy uptake. In the context of the Network and the BIOWAYS, BIOVOICES, LIFT and BIOBRIDGES projects, her company FVA is organising events, workshops and awareness-raising activities to promote the bioeconomy and address challenges and opportunities, engaging the quadruple helix stakeholders.