DIF Headliners

Areti Markopoulu

Areti Markopoulu

Architect, Researcher & Educator

Areti Markopoulou is a Greek architect, researcher, and educator working at the intersection between architecture and digital technologies. She is the Academic Director at IAAC in Barcelona, where she also leads the Advanced Architecture Group, a multidisciplinary research group exploring how design and science can positively impact and transform the present and future of our built spaces, and the way we live and interact. Her research and practice seeks to redefine architecture, as a performative 'body' beyond traditional notions of static materiality, rigid forms or standardised manufacturing.

Areti is founder and principal of the multidisciplinary practice Design Dynamics Studio, and co-editor of Urban Next, a global network focused on rethinking architecture through the contemporary urban milieu. She is the project coordinator for a number of European Research funded projects which include urban regeneration though technologies and multidisciplinary educational models in the digital age.

Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens

Founder & Director, P2P Foundation

Michel Bauwens is the founder and director of the P2P Foundation and collaborates with a group of global researchers to explore peer production, governance, and property. Michel is also the research director of CommonsTransition.org. - a platform for policy development aimed towards a society of the Commons, and a founding member of the Commons Strategies Group ( with Silke Helfrich and David Bollier), which organises major global conferences on the commons and economics. He has (co-)published various books and reports in English, Dutch and French, such as (with Vasilis Kostakis), ‘Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy’. Michel currently lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and last spring he crafted a Commons Transition Plan for the city of Ghent in Belgium, after working on a similar project for Ecuador in 2014. For the next three years, he will advise SMart, a fast growing European labour mutual for autonomous workers, seeking welfare reform (commonfare), while looking into biocapacity-based, contributive accounting mechanisms.

Azeem Azhar

Azeem Azhar

Azeem Azhar is a strategist, analyst, product entrepreneur, influencer and writer with a passion for all things technological. Azeem is also a Senior Adviser of Artificial Intelligence to the CTO of Accenture.

Azeem runs the very popular newsletter on the societal implications of technology called Exponential View which has garnered more than 24k subscribers including investors, academics, and journalists around the world. Up to recently Azeem was also the Vice President at the global media company Schibsted Media Group.

Hamilton Henrique

Hamilton Henrique

Founder of Saladorama

Hamilton Henrique, founder of Saladorama, has a mission to democratise healthy food in vulnerable communities by creating whole local value chains in which farmers, cooks, deliverers and customers are key players in the development of their communities.

Born and raised in a poor community in the surroundings of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he believes in the power of social businesses to improve the life of those that were excluded from access to healthy food and in the power of local players to improve communication between business and customers in the periphery.

Winner of more than 20 national and international awards in the category of social business and social entrepreneur, he studied Production Engineering and Public Administration but found himself in Advertising and Entrepreneurship. and is currently a professor of entrepreneurship at innovation schools in Brazil.

William McDonough

William McDonough

Principal, McDonough Innovation

William McDonough is a globally recognised leader in sustainable design. He advises world leaders through his company McDonough Innovation and leads the architectural firm William McDonough + Partners as well as MBDC, developers and assessors of products for Cradle to Cradle Certification™. He is also active with the World Economic Forum where he served as the inaugural chair of the Forum's Meta-Council on the Circular Economy and on multiple Global Agenda Councils. McDonough has written and lectured extensively on design as the first signal of human intention. He co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002) and the follow up, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance (2013).

DIF Studio

Zoe Laughlin

Zoe Laughlin

Co-founder & Director, Institute of Making

Zoe Laughlin is a co-founder and Director of the Institute of Making. Working at the interface of the science, art, craft and design of materials, outputs range from formal experiments with matter, to materials consultancy and large-scale public exhibitions and events with partners including Tate Modern, the Hayward Gallery and the V&A. Her work has been shown in London’s Science Museum and is included in the new permanent collection of The Design Museum. Her particular areas of interest currently include The Sound of Materials, The Taste of Materials and The Performativity of Matter, and Zoe can often be found giving theatrical demonstration lectures or making programmes for both radio and television. She holds an MA from Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design and obtained a PhD in Materials within the Division of Engineering, King's College London.

Radhika Bynon

Radhika Bynon

Director, The Young Foundation

Radhika is a Director at The Young Foundation, a centre for social innovation based London. She leads the work in communities, working with change makers and innovators to develop solutions to address the challenges that they most care about.

She leads the experimentation work stream on Social Innovation Community, the network for social innovators across Europe, working with innovators in European cities to co-design solutions to pressing local challenges

She is also leading Reimagining Rent, the UK’s only innovation support programme for the private rented sector, focussing on initiatives tackling issues of affordability, quality and security for vulnerable renters including those on low income

Radhika is also working on Rootslab, an innovation lab for young women’s action, supporting social change driven by young women in tough places, starting with Lebanon. Working with Oxfam, the Global Fund for Women and FRIDA The Young Feminist Fund, the project is testing how social innovation tools and approaches can support young women to advance gender justice.

She is Chair of the Global Fund for Women UK, creating a fund to support women activists around the world.

Harmen van Sprang

Harmen van Sprang

Founder, shareNL

Harmen van Sprang is a an independent global expert in the field of sharing and platform economy. He advises governments, businesses and platforms worldwide through his agency ‘shareNL’ and his foundation called ‘Sharing Cities Alliance’. Over the past years Harmen gave 200+ presentations in cities like Paris, Singapore, New York, Toronto and Tokyo. He is also the co-author of a business book called ‘Share.’ With new technologies emerging, Harmen and his team guide their ecosystem of businesses and governments to continuously balance between 'human and machine.' Their purpose: ‘reshaping the way we live, work and play.'

Sharon Baurley

Sharon Baurley

Professor of Design & Materials and Chair of the Burberry Material Futures Research Group, Royal College of Art

Sharon Baurley is Professor of Design & Materials, and Chair of the Burberry Material Futures Research Group at the Royal College of Art, London. Her research is focused on ‘Product Culturesas a strategy for post-Industrial Design in the age of the Anthropocene.

A trained Textile Designer, and recognised as a research and academic leader, Sharon has a track record in STEM+Design inter-disciplinary research project leadership - hosting inter-disciplinary networks as platforms to scope new research spaces in smart textiles and wearable technology; 3-dimensional textile manufacture; wearable technology and electronic textiles as tools for remote on the body social interactions; and new cultures of design and production focused on consumer design and innovation in clothing, consumer products, food, health (dementia), and social enterprise. She has collaborated with Premier Foods, Fairphone, Vodafone, HP Labs, IDC, the Alloy.

Sharon has consulted for Marks & Spencer, Unilever, and Courtaulds Textiles connecting industry-groups in design and technology to innovate and conceptualise new materials and products.

Steve Parkinson

Steve Parkinson

Education Manager, Autodesk

Steve has worked within education for 15 years. Having formerly taught at secondary, college and university level, he received the James Dyson Foundation teacher of the year award, for his influence and contribution to the modernisation of Design and Technology education. Steve co-founded a disruptive educator movement, Teach Design, and later led various initiatives across the UK, including nationwide digital design programmes for Autodesk, and London based STEM programmes for the Department for Education and the Mayor for London. With a BSc (Hons) and MA focused in Design and Technology Education, Steve is passionate about improving the teaching of Design and Technology, and has worked with multiple disruptive organisations, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In 2015, he was awarded an honorary fellowship at the Royal Society of Arts, for work in sustainability. A firm believer in bridging the gap between education and industry, Steve is now Education Manager for Autodesk in the UK, working with students and educators in schools, colleges and universities.

Almaz Zelleke

Almaz Zelleke

Associate Professor of Practice in Political Science, NYU Shanghai

Almaz Zelleke is Associate Professor of Practice in Political Science at NYU Shanghai. Her academic interests are in political theory and public policy, feminist political theory, and comparative political economy. Her articles on basic income, distributive justice, welfare policy, and feminist political theory have been published in Political Quarterly, Basic Income Studies, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Policy and Politics, Review of Social Economy, and Journal of Socio-Economics.

Almaz holds a PhD in Political Science from Harvard University. She is a member of the Board of Advisors of the US Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG) and of the International Advisory Board of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN).

Michael Pawlyn

Michael Pawlyn

Founder, Exploration Architecture

Michael Pawlyn established Exploration Architecture in 2007 to focus on designing high performance buildings and solutions for the circular economy. The company has developed a ground-breaking office project, an ultra-low energy data centre, a zero waste textiles factory, and progressive solutions for green cities.

Prior to setting up Exploration, Michael Pawlyn worked with Grimshaw for ten years and was central to the team that designed the Eden Project. He is regularly booked as a keynote speaker on innovation and, in 2011, became one of only a small handful of architects to have a talk posted on TED.com. His TED talk has since had over 1.8 million viewings. The first edition of his book Biomimicry in Architecture has been RIBA Publications’ best-selling title and the second edition was published in October 2016. Michael Pawlyn jointly initiated the widely acclaimed Sahara Forest Project; the latest version of which was opened by the King of Jordan in 2017.

Michael Shaver

Michael Shaver

Professor of Polymer Chemistry, University of Edinburgh

Dr Michael Shaver is a Professor of Polymer Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. He leads the Green Materials Laboratory which he founded when he moved to Edinburgh having completed a doctorate degree at the University of British Columbia, a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Imperial College London, and independent academic roles as Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Prince Edward Island. His team develops sustainable alternatives to petroleum-derived plastics. Current projects include new biodegradable polyesters that mimic the properties of polystyrene, polymers for water filtration systems and API delivery, and new self-healing materials. Dr Shaver’s research is supported and funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for fundamental research and Innovate UK. Notably, Dr Shaver is also the Head of Graduate Studies for the School of Chemistry, Editor of the European Polymer Journal and an avid participant in public engagement activities.

Mike Werner

Mike Werner

Lead for Safer Chemistry, Google

Mike Werner is lead for Safer Chemistry at Google in their consumer hardware division. As a chemist and materials scientist, his mission is to eliminate toxic chemicals from consumer products and drive higher environmental performance and sustainability of product design. He previously led safer chemistry and biocompatibility initiatives at Apple and product sustainability with Haworth Inc. Mike has worked in the green building and product design space for 14 years - including with renowned green architect Bill McDonough.

He currently sits on the advisory board of the Green Science Policy Institute and recently co-authored a paper with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation titled the Role of Safe Chemistry and Healthy Materials in Unlocking the Circular Economy.

Josie Warden

Josie Warden

Senior Researcher in the Economy team, RSA

Josie Warden is a Senior Researcher in the Economy team at the RSA. Originally trained as a textile designer her work has explored design for the circular economy, community owned business, and is currently focused on the potential for urban manufacturing to contribute to inclusive and sustainable cities.

Cat Drew

Cat Drew

Delivery Director at Uscreates

Cat is a visible thought and practice leader in using data & design for social innovation, spearheading new methods and sharing these widely, including a TedX on data and design and co-presenting BBC Radio 4’s The Fix series around design for social good. She combines 12 years of Government with a post-graduate education in design to create and spearhead the use of innovative methods for tackling tricky social issues and deliver impact. As Delivery Director at Uscreates, Cat ensures that all projects are delivered to the highest quality and delivers impact around demand management, digital efficiency and behaviour change. Previously, Cat was part of the founding team of the Government’s Policy Lab where she introduced design based techniques into policymaking, including service and user centered design, ethnography, data science and visualisation, behavioural insights, prototyping and systems thinking, and the Government’s first use of speculative design. Cat is also a member of the Point People, a network of systems thinkers and an RSA fellow.

Benedict Dellot

Benedict Dellot

Head of the RSA’s Future Work Centre & Associate Director in the RSA’s Economy team

Benedict Dellot is the Head of the RSA’s Future Work Centre and Associate Director in the RSA’s Economy team. His research explores the changing nature of work and the impact that technology has on our labour market. He is an Adviser to the East End Trades Guild, and sits on the Editorial Board of the Journal of New Technology, Work and Employment.

Robbie Bates

Robbie Bates

Design Director at Uscreates

Robbie is Design Director at Uscreates, responsible for shaping and leading the organisation’s design and innovation practice across sectors. He has led work with national and international organisations including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Nesta, the Open Data Institute and the EU Policy Lab. Internally at Uscreates, Robbie has set-up and led Uscreates’ Research & Development Lab and outside of Uscreates he is a international speaker and educator, teaching at global design school including the Stanford D.School, University of the Arts and University of Applied Science, Austria.

Pieter van de Glind

Pieter van de Glind

Co-founder of shareNL

Pieter has an academic background that combines the social, environmental and economic sciences. While graduating in 2013 he co-founded shareNL, a boutique agency, which has become a global reference point for the sharing and platform economy.

Over the years Pieter developed a deep understanding of how online platforms are reshaping the way people and organisations connect and how this affects industries and societies. He has a unique global perspective and connects and consults an ecosystem consisting of the world’s largest online platforms, the world leading companies, and some of the most advanced city-, state- and intergovernmental organisations.