Speakers' biographies

High-level panel

Anya SitaramHigh-level panel

Rockhopper Media

Anya Sitaram is a communications consultant, documentary producer and professional conference moderator. A former journalist and BBC and Sky news anchor, Ms Sitaram oversees production at award winning independent production company Rockhopper Media.

She was regional communications lead for NHS England during the Salisbury Novichok poisoning incident, based at Salisbury hospital at the outset of the crisis and later co-ordinating public facing and internal communications for NHS England in tandem with police and other agencies.

Enrique Belda EspluguesHigh-level panel

Spanish Ministry of the Interior

Enrique Belda-Esplugues holds a PhD from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), and a Degree in Civil Engineering (UPV). He has also completed postgraduate courses at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona, the Polytechnic University of Valencia, the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées of Paris, the École Nationale d'Administration (L'ENA) of Paris, as well as in the National Institute of Public Administration (INAP) and the Spanish Diplomatic School (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation). He is currently the Deputy Director General of Communication and Information Systems for Security in the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.

Fabrice LeggeriHigh-level panel

Frontex - European Border and Coast Guard Agency

Fabrice Leggeri, has been Executive Director of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, since January 2015, overseeing an unprecedented period of expansion at the Agency. He joined Frontex from the French Ministry of the Interior, where he ran the Division on Irregular Migration. Earlier, he served as Head of Unit dealing with cross border traffic, frontiers and visas. Mr Leggeri has worked extensively in the area of migration and international law. Following his first stint at the Ministry of the Interior, he worked as a national expert at the European Commission from 2000-2003, where he contributed to drafting the Commission paper that led to the creation of Frontex.

Khalil RouhanaHigh-level panel

Directorate for Communications Networks, Content & Technologies, European Commission

Khalil Rouhana’s current responsibilities include the policies for digital economy and society and notably for research, innovation and industrial strategies, digital solutions for societal challenges and governments as well as cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. Previously, he was Director for Digital Industry in DG CONNECT supporting the competitiveness of core digital sectors in Europe and the digitisation of all industrial sectors of the economy. In his previous experiences in the Commission, he was the Director for Digital content and Cognitive systems and Head of Unit in charge of ICT research and Innovation strategy

Laura Yli-VakkuriHigh-level panel

Director General of International Affairs, Finnish Ministry of the Interior

Laura Yli-Vakkuri has been Director General for International Affairs of the Finnish Interior Ministry since 2009. Ms Yli-Vakkuri has dealt with EU and International Affairs in the field of Justice and Home Affairs since 1998 when she joined the Ministry of the Interior, including some key tasks during the first two Finnish EU Presidencies in 1999 and 2006. She started her career in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs where she worked for 10 years. Ms Yli-Vakkuri has also worked as a national expert in the Council Europe in Strasbourg and in the European Commission.

Paolo VenturoniHigh-level panel

European Organisation for Security

Paolo Venturoni is the CEO of the European Organisation for Security (EOS) which represents the European security industry and research community in Brussels. Mr Venturoni has 25 years of international experience in corporate development and European affairs. Based in Brussels since 2002, he has extensive experience of security matters. He is a member of the Board of the Columbia University Alumni Association of Belgium and a member of the Board of the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO). Mr Venturoni obtained his MBA from Columbia University in New York and graduated in Physics from the University of Rome.

Artificial Intelligence

Jean-Francois JungerArtificial Intelligence

Deputy Head of Unit, Public Services
DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission

After 10 years of work as a robotic engineer at JET (Joint European Torus) a fusion research centre, Jean-Francois Junger joined the Commission. First he worked from 1998 until 2001 in DG Research on the subject of waste water as part of FP5 and on the Endocrine Disruptors. Then he moved to DG INFSO in the software unit for two years where he was in charge of the "Open Source Software" subject. In 2003 he joined the eTEN unit as part of the programme and followed project in many different domain. Since the launch of the CIP ICT-PSP programme in 2007, he has been the prime actor in supporting and promoting the launch of the large scale pilot with Member States and the launch of the "Connecting Europe Facility" telecom programme. Between 2012 and July 2018, as the deputy head of unit in the 'public services' unit, he strongly supported the transformation of the public sector towards an open government vision. He took a very active role in the definition of new eGovernment Action Plan. Since July 2018 he works as Deputy Head of Unit to strength European Cyber security capacity.

Panagiotis KikirasArtificial Intelligence

European Defence Agency

Panagiotis Kikiras is currently Head of the Technology and Innovation Unit at the European Defence Agency in Brussels. Through its work on innovative research, the Directorate supports EDA Member States in their efforts to cooperate, promote and manage cooperative Research and Technology projects. It identifies dual-use synergies and opportunities with the European Commission and the European Space Agency to enhance civil-military cooperation, interoperability and effective R&T spending

Stéphane DuguinArtificial Intelligence


As Officer of the French National Police, Mr Stephane Duguin has held positions in several departments: Judicial Police, Public Safety, and the International Cooperation Office. Starting in 2009 in Europol, he led key operational projects, such as the setup of the Europol Operational Centre and the creation of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3). After being the EC3 chief of staff, he is currently the head of the European Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) within the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) in Europol. As a leader in the digital transformation, he is promoting innovative responses to novel criminal models, focusing on disruptive technologies and building on public/private partnerships

Zsuzsanna Felkai JanssenArtificial Intelligence

European Commission DG HOME

Zsuzsanna Felkai Janssen graduated in law in Budapest in the Eötvös Lóránd University in Hungary in 1996. She has a master degree in Commercial and Competition Law from the King’s College London and she has also a master in European Studies in the University of Hamburg.
In 2002, she joined the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union to assist the accession of Hungary to the European Union as a lawyer linguistic reviser. Since 2011, she has been working at the European Commission in the Directorate General Home Affairs and Migration. She has been in charge of the Schengen Information System, the largest EU law enforcement database, first as a lawyer and afterwards as a Head of Unit.

Border Security

Freja De MiddeleerBorder Security

Belgium Customs and Excises - Risk Management Department

Freja De Middeleer became part of the Belgian Customs Administration (BCA) in 2014. She worked at the Risk Management Department, overseeing common risk analysis for safety and security purposes. After a two-year break working as an academic researcher in illicit drug markets, Ms De Middeleer became one of the coordinators within the Risk Management Department of the BCA, ensuring that all national and international projects involving risk management are aligned. Ms De Middeleer is also participating in the Pan-European Network of Customs Practitioners project (Horizon 2020 funded) on behalf of the BCA.

Luc HardyBorder Security

Government Relations EMEA, Smiths Group

Luc Hardy joined Smiths Group’s Government Relations team in 2016, where he works in support of the group and its divisions, including and primarily for the security and defence systems division Smiths Detection. His main fields of operation are in Ports & Borders protection, Urban Security, CBRN defence and aviation security.
In 2018, Luc was appointed a co-chair of the European Organisation for Security’s Integrated Border Security working group to lead the association’s advocacy work in Customs Security.
He held previous positions at strategic advisory firm Brunswick Group in Brussels and at the American Chamber of Commerce in France. Luc holds a Masters degree in European Affairs from Paris-Sorbonne University.

Micha SlegtBorder Security

Customs administration of the Netherlands

Micha Slegt has a background in Chemistry, his PhD study was completed in 2006 at Leiden University. In 2005 Mr Slegt joined the laboratory unit of the Customs Administration of the Netherlands as a senior scientist. His studies into the use of detection and selection technology and statistical methods for Customs applications started in 2009. In 2013 he was awarded the World Customs Organization Diplôme d’Honneur for his innovative work. Representing his administration, Mr Slegt is a member of the EU Customs Detection Technology Project Group of the European Commission, DG TAXUD.

Sami RakshitBorder Security

Finnish Customs

Sami Rakshit is the Director and Head of the Enforcement Department at Finnish Customs. He has worked in the field of customs since 1999 and has held various customs management functions including Head of Customs Intelligence and Head Investigator for Economic Crime. He has a special interest in modern technology for customs enforcement and intelligence-led law enforcement. Sami holds a Master of Law Degree from Helsinki University and he speaks Finnish, English, Swedish and German.

Wilhelmus van HeeswijkBorder Security

Wilhelmus van Heeswijk is responsible for security technology developments, customs control equipment and the implementation of smart border and supply chain security measures including research and innovation.

Mr van Heeswijk is the chairperson of the EU customs detection technology project group. Furthermore, he is a customs policy adviser to the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Security Research Programme and the EU representative at the World Customs Organisation Technical Expert Group on Non-Intrusive Inspection equipment.

Terrorist Content Online

Giacomo Francesco Speretta Terrorist content online

LEONARDO, VP Business Development, Project Tensor

Giacomo Francesco Speretta is the Vice-President of Business Development at Leonardo in Genoa, Italy. He is responsible for shaping the new international footprint of Leonardo’s cyber security division world-wide. Previously he was Leonardo’s Vice-President of regional marketing Central Asia.
He has also worked as Russian branches director for Selex Es in Genoa and Moscow, and as a sales manager for Elsag Datamat in Genoa, Italy, developing business in authomation, security, transport and logistics. He holds a MBA in international business engineering and a master’s degree in electronic engineering from the University of Genoa.

João Paulo VenturaTerrorist content online

Judiciary Police - National CT Unit (PJ - UNCT)

Since 1994, Mr Ventura has represented Portugal in international cooperation fora on Counter Terrorism and Counter Violent Extremism including at the EU’s Police Working Group on Terrorism, Europol, Interpol and Terrorism Working Party. He represented Portugal in the Counter Terrorism Task Force at Europol Headquarters in the Hague, the Netherlands from 2001-2003. Mr Ventura is a trainer on CT and CVE at national and international levels notably at CEPOL. He is the holder of a university degree in Psychology ( September 1989), and Post-Graduate courses in Psychology and Law (1991-1993) and Forensics Medicine (1999). He was the Auditor of National Defence at the National Defence Institute from 1996-1997 and is a guest teacher at several Portuguese universities.

Monica FloreaTerrorist content online

SIVECO Romania

Dr Monica Florea is the Head of the European Projects Department at SIVECO Romania. She leads SIVECO’s participation in FP6, FP7 and Horizon 2020 projects (RED-Alert – project coordinator, EnergyShield, NEWTON, SMILE, EUNOMIA, DeepHealth, etc). She is responsible for the coordination of SIVECO projects co-financed by the European Commission and the collaboration with national and international bodies. She has two degrees from the University Al.I Cuza of Iasi in Computer Science and Finance and Banks, a MSc in Distributed Processing from the University Al.I Cuza, and a PhD in Management from the University Lucian Blaga of Sibiu. She is PMP certified and a Management of Risk Registered Practitioner.

Disaster Risk Management

Anna-Mari HeikkiläDisaster risk management

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd

Anna-Mari Heikkilä, DSc (Tech), is an expert in safety and security risks and their analysis. She currently works as a Senior Scientist at VTT, where her responsibilities include strategic planning and leading research projects both on a national and international level. Currently, Anna-Mari Heikkilä is leading the Resilient Society opportunity area within VTT’s strategy. She has extensive experience as a project manager and a partner in national and EU projects, for example FP7-project CRISMA and in H2020 projects Resistant and Cyber-MAR. In addition to being involved in many national and international networks, she is currently VTT’s representative at EARTO in the Security and Defence Research Group, and at ECSO Standardisation and Certification Working Group.

Daniel Sempere-TorresDisaster risk management

Daniel Sempere-Torres is PhD Professor of Environmental Engineering at the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya(UPC), and Director of the Center of Applied Research in Hydrometeorology( CRAHI). He has 25 years of experience in hydrometeorological modelling, Flood Early Warning Systems and climate emergencies risk management. Currently, he is coordinator of the Horizon 2020 innovation action ANYWHERE.

Sebastien PenziniDisaster risk management

Risk Knowledge and Analysis
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)
Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Sebastien works as the UNISDR focal point for disaster risk knowledge in the European Region. He is in charge of supporting programmes in liaison with risk assessment, disaster loss databases and knowledge sharing. Sebastien joined UNISDR in 2011 for the preparations of the Third Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. Between 2012 and 2017, Sebastien worked on the organisation of the UNISDR global conferences including the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015. His work with UNISDR also included the development of an innovative public private partnership focused on disaster risk education and disaster resilience of small and mid-size businesses. The project reached a large audience of students, individuals and business owners through activities led in collaboration with partners like the Economist Intelligence Unit, The Florida International University and the City of New Orleans. Sebastien holds a Masters Degree in International Relations and Political Science from the Institute of Political Studies (Sc-Po), France. Sebastien speaks French, English and some Spanish.


Bertwin LussenburgProcurement

Ministry of Justice and Security, Innovation Team

Since 1994, Bertwin Lussenburg has been Programme Manager at the Innovation Team of the Ministry of Justice and Security in the Netherlands. He is responsible for enhancing the use of innovative procurement, Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe, the innovation programme satellite applications for Justice and Security, launching customership and public-private cooperation. Previously he was Project Manager for the European Asylum Support Office (Malta) in Greece, Senior Advisor at the Directorate for European and International Affairs and the Taskforce for the Global Forum on Migration and Development (2007). Furthermore, Mr Lussenburg worked in the domain of asylum and for the Human Rights NGO CENIDH in Nicaragua. He studied Social Sciences and Law.

François BrizardProcurement

European Commission - DG Research and Innovation - European Innovation Council Task Force - Innovation Ecosystems

François Brizard is a Policy Officer for the European Commission (DG R&I). He joined in December 2014. He works for the European Innovation Council Task Force Unit in charge of Innovation Ecosystems. He works on the innovation dimension of the relevant EU policies and funding programmes and on the translation of the Innovation Policy agenda into specific actions. His current responsibilities include developing collaboration/co-creation models for innovative procurement.
He has a Masters in European Law - European studies (University of Strasbourg, France and University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg).

Soraya Artiles BurgosProcurement

Guardia Civil (Spanish Ministry of Interior)

Soraya Artiles holds a Masters in Computer Science and Technology. With more than 18 years of experience in security and technology related projects, Soraya is enthusiastically pursuing innovative solutions that will further facilitate the mission of the Civil Guard Units. She has led the first kind of Pre-Commercial Procurement in the EU Research and Innovation programme Secure Societies, (i.e. CLOSEYE), and is participating in other EU innovation procurements (i.e. EWISA, EUCISE, CIVILnEXT, and MARINE-EO). She is currently the head of the Technology Innovation Office in Guardia Civil where she is preparing the Open Market Consultation phase for three national Pre-Commercial Procurements.

Stephan CorversProcurement

Corvers Procurement Services B.V.

Stephan Corvers has over 20 years of experience in the field of European procurement and innovation procurement. He was co-founder and vice-chairman of the NVvA (Dutch Association for procurement and law). He is the founder, owner and managing director of Corvers Procurement Services – a private company operating in the field of European procurement since 2000. Corvers has been involved in a wide range of national, international and pan-European innovation procurement projects relating to new markets, new products or services, new distribution channels and new technologies. Mr Corvers is relationship manager for the European Assistance For Innovation Procurement-initiative, author of numerous publications and a frequent speaker.

Hybrid Threat

Aurel SariHybrid Threat

Dr Aurel Sari is an Associate Professor of Public International Law at the University of Exeter. He is the Director of the Exeter Centre for International Law, a Fellow of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and a Fellow of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. Dr Sari is an expert in public international law. His scholarship focuses primarily on international conflict and security law and the law relating to military operations. He has published widely on the law of armed conflict, the status of forces agreements, peace support operations, international human rights law, the legal framework of European security and defence policy and the legal dimension of hybrid threats.

Georgios GiannopoulosHybrid Threat

Dr Georgios Giannopoulos holds a degree in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, a PhD in Engineering from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Royal Military Academy of Belgium and a Management degree from Solvay Brussels School in Economics and Management. He is currently carrying out research for supporting EU Policies in the domain of critical infrastructure risk and resilience assessment, interdependencies and economic impact of critical infrastructure disruption, as well as on standardization and certification in CBRNE and CIP domains (including cyber). He has been involved in several training activities in various European Countries in order to support their efforts on improving the protection of their technological systems and critical infrastructures. He is currently leading a research team for developing a conceptual framework for Hybrid Threats.

Jonna TurunenHybrid Threat

Helsinki Police Department

Jonna Turunen is the Head of Criminal Investigation at the Helsinki Police Department. She has 20 years' experience in law enforcement as a detective, a head investigator and a head of unit. Before being appointed to her current position she worked as the Head of Serious Violent Crime investigation unit. She holds a Masters degree in Law from the University of Helsinki.

Käsper KivisooHybrid Threat

Hybrid COE

Käsper Kivisoo was appointed the Deputy Director of research and strategic analysis in the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in August 2018. Before that, he was the chairman of the Countering Hybrid Threats working group during both the Estonian and Bulgarian presidencies of the Council of the European Union. He joined the Government Office of Estonia in 2005.

Michael RühleHybrid Threat


Michael Rühle, is currently Head of the Hybrid Challenges and Energy Security Section in the Emerging Security Challenges Division in NATO’s International Staff. Previously he was Head, Speechwriting, and Senior Political Advisor in the NATO Secretary General’s Policy Planning Unit. Before joining NATO's International Staff in 1991, Mr Rühle was a Volkswagen-Fellow at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Sankt Augustin, Germany, and a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, D.C. He holds an MA degree in Political Science from the University of Bonn. Mr Rühle has published widely on international security issues.

Closing Plenary

Ilkka SalmiClosing Plenary

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, Finland

Ilkka Salmi has served as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, which is the ministry for internal security and migration, since 1 July 2018. He is a member of the Committee for EU Affairs, the Arctic Advisory Board dealing with Finland’s Strategy for the Arctic Region, the National Emergency Supply Council and the Council of the Finnish Red Cross. Ilkka Salmi also serves as Chair of the Advisory Board on Gambling and the steering and monitoring group for the Internal Security Strategy and as Deputy Chair of the Advisory Board for National Defence Education.
He worked as Director of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service in 2007–2011, and before joining the Ministry of the Interior, he served as Director of the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre and at the Directorate-General for Human Resources and Security of the European Commission.
Ilkka Salmi holds a Master of Laws degree and is trained on the bench. He is married and has three sons.

Matthias ÖlClosing Plenary

Matthias Oel is Director for Borders, Interoperability and Innovation in DG Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission. Before assuming this position in May 2017 he was Director for Migration and Security Funds in the same DG from January 2016, Head of Unit for Asylum (as of April 2012) and Special Adviser in the Cabinet of the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy (as of January 2010). Matthias Oel started his career in the German Federal Ministry for Economics and joined the European Commission for the first time in 1995 as Seconded National Expert in the Cabinet of Commissioner Dr. Monika Wulf-Mathies (Regional Policy). In 1997 he moved to the Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU where he worked as Counselor for Industry and Regional Policy during the German EU-Presidency 1999. Afterwards he became a Commission official and worked as Parliament and Council coordinator and Assistant to the Director General for Personnel and Administration. From 2004 to 2006 he was Member of the Cabinet of Vice-President Günter Verheugen mainly covering the Industry Policy dossier. In 2006 he was seconded to Berlin where he worked as Head of the Task Force "2007 EUPresidency" and subsequently Director for European Union Affairs in the Federal Ministry of Interior until joining the Cabinet of President Van Rompuy.

Welcome & Keynote

Maria OhisaloWelcome & Keynote

Maria Ohisalo is the Finnish Minister of the Interior. She is the Party Leader of the Green League and a member of the Helsinki City Council and Uusimaa Regional Council. Minister Ohisalo has done her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Eastern Finland and worked as a researcher at the City of Helsinki, the University of Eastern Finland and the Y-Foundation. She has also held several positions of trust, including in the Board of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, and in the Psychiatric Medicine Board of the Helsinki University Hospital.
Her priorities in politics include integration of social justice and ecological sustainability. She considers that the promotion of preventive measures and fight against inequality should be at the heart of all sectors of politics.
Ohisalo’s physically active lifestyle originates in her keen interest in sport as a child. Her hobbies then included athletics, football and scouting.