INNOVATION ECOSYSTEM AMBASSADORS

We extend our deepest gratitude to all the innovation luminaries who have carved time out of the busy schedules to welcome the 2021 Global Innovation Showcase Cohort to our region, attend their pitches and get to know each of the teams. We are deeply appreciative of their support.

Louie Balasny

Director, Tech & VC First Republic Bank; Founder, Botkeeper

Louie Balasny is Director of Tech & VC at First Republic Bank. His lifelong desire to build something from the ground up, led him to co-found Botkeeper. For over five years, Louie helped build the automated bookkeeping company to where it is, most recently securing a $25 million Series B round. His passion for helping startups and working closely with founders ultimately led him to join First Republic Bank in its Tech and Venture Capital group. Louie holds his Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School and is very active in the Boston community.

Adam M. Beal

CEO & Co-Founder, Awayr AI,

Defense Entrepreneurs Forum - Boston Lead

Adam M. Beal is the CEO and Co-founder of Awayr AI. He is an award-winning entrepreneur and Fortune 100 Strategist. Adam has previously worked in Global Strategy & Portfolio Planning at General Motors; he helped launch the Techstars Air Force Accelerator, and served as VP of Finance for Boston University medical startup Vibronix. 

Laurie Bishop

Program Manager, Northeastern University -  

Health Sciences Entrepreneurs

Laurie manages the Health Sciences Entrepreneurs program at Northeastern University (HSE). HSE Supports entrepreneurs with innovative ideas in healthcare, health sciences and life sciences, by providing mentoring and technical assistance to develop the entrepreneurial mindset and ultimately, a pathway to venture commercialization. Her professional career started with a 12-year tour at Verizon Communications in Boston, strategically navigating around the company to broaden her knowledge and impact in various positions, ranging from deep tech to global sales. After leaving Verizon, she championed operations and business development strategic initiatives for several startups and non-profits in Florida and the Boston area. Immediately prior to joining Northeastern, Laurie spent time with the New Venture Development team at UMass Lowell. In this role, she coordinated the NSF-funded I-Corps Site program and various workforce development projects, while mentoring life sciences and high tech ventures. Laurie earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University, participating in their first solar-powered car project and racing in the Tour de Sol. She also earned an MBA with a focus on Entrepreneurship from Babson College. Laurie currently serves as an advisor to ViTAL, Northeastern’s healthcare innovation student group. Laurie spends her spare time with her family and serving the community, focused on ensuring food and housing security. She considers herself a servant leader, a connector and expert in business development.

Alexander Brown

Managing Director, Launchpad Venture Group

Alex has been involved in Launchpad since 2011, and is an active angel investor in a variety of New England based startups. He co-manages The Beacon Venture Partners Fund, which invests in a diversified basket of local early stage companies including the Launchpad portfolio. He mentors and advises several Boston-based companies. Alex is also the Founder and Principal of Glaessel Ventures, a consulting and training company that connects thoughtful strategy with effective product and service development. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, he helps a broader range of companies understand and implement Agile transformations that achieve sustainable success. As a management consultant, he focuses on go to market strategy, with expertise in consumer behavior, product & service innovation and product/market fit. Previously, Alex was a Partner at Recon Strategy, a Healthcare-focused strategy consulting firm. Before that he served as Chief Operating Officer of Scrum Inc, a local startup that invented the Scrum Agile framework and continues to improve the state of the practice in Agile product/service development.  Prior to that, he was a Principal at the Boston Consulting Group, helping lead the Industrial Goods, Consumer & Retail, and Healthcare Practice areas. Alex earned a B.S. and Masters in Engineering from Cornell University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Anu Chitrapu

Senior Vice-President & Third Party Executive, Bank of America

President, TiE Boston (The Indus Entrepreneurs)

Anu Chitrapu is Senior Vice-President and Third Party Executive at Bank of America and serves as the Executive Sponsor for the Asian Leadership Network in Boston. She is a seasoned and dynamic business leader with a track record of motivating teams to step up their performance and a natural evangelist and influencer with the ability to get people excited about an organization and its mission. Anu serves as the current President of TiE Boston (The Indus Entrepreneurs), an organization with a mission to foster entrepreneurship. Anu holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.

Lt. Col. Darren Edmonds

Executive Director, Hanscom Collaboration and Innovation Center, 

Hanscom AirForce Base

Lt Col Darren M. Edmonds is the Executive Director of the Hanscom Collaboration and Innovation Center at Hansocm AFB, MA. Most recently he has served as the Air Force Cyberspace Defense Program Manager, where he had the honor of full operationalization the Air Force's Big Data Platform in Cloud One, and the Chief Technology Officer and Deputy Chief Engineer for the Strategic Warning & Surveillance Systems, responsible for the technical performance during sustaining engineering and modernization of the nation’s Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment capabilities. Lt Col Edmonds has served as the Deputy Executive Director of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board whlie serving at the Pentagon, as well as in a variety of acquisition positions in mission areas such as Command and Control (C2), Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR), and Space Superiority.

Andy Feinberg

Managing Partner, Argon Ventures

Andy is Managing Partner of Argon Ventures, an experienced C-Suite executive, leader and builder of great teams at public and private international technology and digital media companies. He is an advisor, investormentor and board member to emerging companies and entrepreneurs, and amplifies founder energy to launch cutting-edge technologies and build impactful, global businesses. Focused on intelligent industry solutions (applied use of deeptech) to create vertical solutions for business and industry.

Kezia Fitzgerald 

Co-Founder, CEO & Chief Innovation Officer, CareALine Products

Robert J. Crowley - Spirit of Innovation Award Winner 2019

Kezia discovered a need for change in how vascular access lines were being managed during her daughter Saoirse’s treatment for Neuroblastoma. Seeing the impact of this problem on her daughter and her family, she created and iterated the design of the CareAline® Sleeve for PICC Lines and the CVC Wrap for Central Lines while Saoirse was in treatment. Kezia did this while she was battling her own cancer at the same time. After Saoirse’s death, Kezia and her husband Mike started CareALine Products LLC, and brought her innovations to market. Knowing how they had helped their daughter get through treatment more safely and comfortably inspired Kezia and Mike to make them available to all children and adults with PICC and Central Lines. CareAline® Sleeves and Wraps are supported by evidence, FDA registered medical devices used by hospitals, and loved by thousands of patients and caregivers worldwide.
Kezia’s unique, proactive view of healthcare and talents for continuous innovation have spurred the creation of new products and designs to improve quality of life for patients and caregivers that also meet the needs of ever-changing hospital staff workflows and hospital safety protocols.
Kezia has won multiple awards and is on the board of advisors for AI in Medicine and the International Society for Pediatric Innovation (iSPI). She is an Alumni in Residence and a Healthcare Industry Mentor for the 2018 MassChallenge Cohort, where she also drove CareAline to a Gold Winner Award in the 2017 MassChallenge. Kezia is a developer and leader of the Young Innovators Workshop for iSPI’s Pediatric2040 conferences. 

Alex Kambanis

President & Managing Director, GET Group North America

Alex is an Identity Solutions expert and for over 15 years has enabled Governments around the world implement new technologies around secure Government Credentials (National IDs, Driver’s Licenses and Passports). He is President & Managing Director of GET Group North America based in Waltham MA, which was recently awarded a contract by the US Department of State for the implementation of the Next Generation US Passport. Alex believes that mobile identity is the foundation of any effective digital security strategy and has recently directed the company’s efforts towards the development of its new globally interoperable mobile drivers’ licenses technology. Alex serves on the Board of the Document Security Alliance, an association of government, industry and academia dedicated to securing the production, issuance, and authentication of identity, credentials, and currency.

Dr. Petros Kotidis

President, Miracor Consulting; TechStars AirForce Accelerator Mentor

Dr. Kotidis is a CEO-Level Executive with over 30 years of experience in a variety of industries, including Government and Defense, Security and Safety, Oil and Gas, Chemical, Industrial Process Control, Analytical Instrumentation, Biomedical, Photonics, Telecommunications and Data Analytics. Dr. Kotidis has served on Boston University’s Industrial Advisory Board and Princeton University’s MIRTHE Center Industrial Advisory Board. He has received several product awards, including the prestigious Best Product of the Year SPIE Photonics Prism Awards in 2010 and 2018. He has been awarded 26 US Patents, with several more pending.

Pamela Layton

CEO, 4Immune Therapeutics; Angel Investor; New England Innovation Award Winner 2012

Nhat Le
COO, Office of Business Development - Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Pamela Layton is a founder, CEO and board member of 4Immune Therapeutics, a pre-clinical biotech company that is developing a  CAR T cell therapy platform that allows antigen-specific killing of autoreactive T cells that cause autoimmune disorders. The companies lead candidate targets Type 1 diabetes, with follow-on therapies for celiac disease and vitiligo. Prior to 4Immune, Pamela was the CEO and a member of the Board of XenoTherapeutics Foundation, responsible for bringing the first live cell pig graft into the clinic through a three-phase clinical trial treating patients with severe burns. Prior to XenoTherapeutics, she was President and a member of the Board of Directors of Bioarray Genetics, Inc., a breast cancer molecular diagnostics company, where her role spanned the acquisition of capital, operations, reimbursement, regulatory path and partnerships. Prior to Bioarray, Mrs. Layton was the Founder and CEO of Parcell Laboratories, and responsible for taking the first pure stem cell product from bench to bedside for spinal fusion surgery. She holds multiple U.S. and European patents for the ELA® cell and its applications. Mrs. Layton is a Certified Tissue Bank Specialist as designated by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). In addition to mentoring young companies in the U.S. and abroad, she is a member of the Board of the Pioneer Institute, a non-partisan public policy institute in Massachusetts, as well as a member of the board of the Massachusetts Innovation Network, a member of the Mass General Hospital Corporation and a long-standing Judge for the New England Innovation Awards. Mrs. Layton is a longstanding member of SkyVentures, as well as an individual Angel Investor.

Nhat Le is the Chief Operating Officer of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD); she was appointed to this role in 2015.  Nhat’s  principal function is to connect businesses with available state resources, to help them grow and succeed; her understanding of economic development, knowledge of available funding, and relationship-building skills have created numerous opportunities for growth and success in a wide variety of business sectors. Before joining the MOBD team, Nhat was at State Street Corporation, as an Officer in the Institutional Investor Services Accounting Operations Team; there, she oversaw a team providing the daily and monthly valuations of clients’ portfolios, trained personnel, and instituted procedural and infrastructural protocols for all processes. In her free time, Nhat is actively involved in her community.

Dr. Val Livada

Executive Director, Boston Center of the EU ENRICH Program;

Research Affiliate, MIT Materials Research Laboratory;

Founder, Corporate Entrepreneurship Network;

Advisor, MassRobotics;

Advisor, Greentown Labs; 

Director, Built Environment Coalition.

Dr. Livada has been active in the innovation/entrepreneurship ecosystem for over 35 wars. He has advised Global 300 type companies, research universities, regional organizations and startups on commercializing technology. Presently Val leads the Boston Center of the EU Enrich program, connecting European ventures to the US, and is working with MIT's Materials Research and Deshpande Centers to better connect. academia and industry. He is founder of the Corporate Entrepreneurship Network, sits on the Board of Directors of Aphios Corporation, The Built Environment Coalition, AutoHarvest Foundation and Monarch Antenna. He is also advisory board member for Greentown Labs, Mass Robotics, NU's Advanced Manufacturing Group, and Portugal's. BGI Incubator.  Dr. Livada holds degrees from MIT and Tufts' Fletcher School and has taught at the Sloan School of Management at MIT and the Questrom School at BU. 

Dr. Alexander Margulis
Chief Operating Officer, Bioincubator of Mansfield

Dr. Margulis has more than 20 years of science and business development experience in the Life Science industry. Trained as a cellular and molecular biologist, his accomplishments include a dozen authored scientific papers and numerous abstracts. In business development, Dr. Margulis increased sales by 200% within two years in the US and Canada, placing the Capital Equipment instruments into world-class academic and biotech/pharma accounts in the Boston area. He is currently building a world-class life science innovation ecosystem in the Southeastern Massachusetts through Mansfield Bio-Incubator serving as a centerpiece. Margulis has served as a Judge for International BioGENEius Challenge for the past three years.

Matthew McSwain

Founder & Executive Director, UMass Lowell Research Institute and

NorthStar Campus;

Founding Board Member of UMass Lowell Applied Research Corporation

The UMass Lowell Research Institute (UMLRI) is a Department of Defense technology focused institute with Northstar Campus providing technical and business assistance for early stage SBIR companies technology innovation and acceleration for the warfighter.  Beyond early-stage technology acceleration UMLRI also focuses on technology integration throughout the DoD acquisition lifecycle as well as applied solutions, manufacturing and sustainability and academic offerings for the Department of Defense and the Aerospace and Defense sector of the Commonwealth.  The overall goal of UMLRI and the Northstar Campus is to create community, spark innovation, and stimulate business growth within the aerospace and defense ecosystem.  Matt spent 22 years in the Air Force and possesses over 30 years leading, performing and overseeing the daily operations and strategic planning of multiple departments at the Federal, State, DoD, and Higher Ed levels.  Since retirement from Active-Duty Matt spent several years with MassDevelopment in Boston running State-wide programs in support of the Governor’s financial and economic development policies within the aerospace and defense sector of Massachusetts for small business innovation research and manufacturing.  Matt came to UMass Lowell in 2016 to begin laying the groundwork for the UMass Lowell Research Institute and had several early wins to establish the foundation.  The UMass Lowell Applied Research Corporation was officially established as a 501(c)3 Corporation in June 2020 and has recently expanded into their new 19,000 square feet facility in Lincoln, MA outside the back gate of Hanscom AFB.   Matt holds an MBA from Louisiana Tech and an MA in Regional Economics and Social Development from UMass Lowell.  He also serves as a Board Member for the National Defense Industrial Association and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.  

Irina Muradian

Integrated Marketing & Global Branding Manager,

Boston Scientific

Irina Muradian is an integrated marketing and brand strategy professional with 10+ years of diverse marketing experience that spans account/project management, digital campaign planning and execution and brand strategy development and governance. Irina's current primary focus as a Global Brand Manager at Boston Scientific is to craft and implement advanced brand and communications strategies that inspire employees, grow customer affinity and engagement and ultimately help drive business results. In her free time, Irina enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling and trying out new hobbies.

Dr. Rupal Patel

Founder & CEO, VocalID

New England Innovation Award Winner 2017

Dr. Patel is a professor at Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences. In addition, Dr. Patel is Chief Executive Officer of VocaliD, a Belmont, MA, company that custom-builds voices for the speech-impaired; she is dedicated to developing new technologies to assist people with speech difficulties or impairment. Dr. Patel has been the driving force behind other such initiatives such as the Human Voicebank database. A speech scientist and technologist with over 15 years of clinical and research experience in assistive technology, Dr. Patel is considered the hope of assisted speech. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and is a speaker for TED. She also serves as a Member of the Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Innovation Network.

Joan Popolo

Executive Director, ACTION Innovation Network

Joan Popolo serves as Executive Director of ACTION Innovation Network, a New England-based network of technology business incubators and other entrepreneur support organizations, focused on the sectors of cleantech, life science, robotics, marine/maritime, advanced materials and aerospace. The organization hosts programs for international growth-stage companies as they explore US market entry opportunities in the Northeast. Ms. Popolo has also worked with the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge and Northeast Cleantech Open accelerator programs in supporting early-stage ventures. Joan began her career as a research scientist in the Agricultural Biotechology Group at BioTechnica International, working to increase disease resistance and nutritional qualities of crop plants. She holds a B.S in Plant Science and Horticulture from Cornell University, and an M.S in Plant Science from Michigan State University.

Cait Reimers Brumme

Managing Director, MassChallenge Boston

New England Innovation Award Winner 2012

Caitlin Reimers Brumme is the Managing Director of MassChallenge Boston. Prior to MassChallenge, Caitlin led the Impact Collaboratory at the Harvard Business School, a multi-faceted effort to develop world class academic leadership on the topic of “Investing in the 21st Century” including sustainable, ESG and impact investing. Caitlin holds an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar, and a B.A. with honors from The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. 

Tom Ryden

Executive Director, MassRobotics

Thomas Ryden is the Executive Director of MassRobotics. MassRobotics is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help grow the next generation of robotics companies. Prior to joining MassRobotics Thomas was the founder and CEO/COO of VGo Communications, Inc. While at VGo Mr. Ryden oversaw the development and launch of the VGo telepresence robot. The VGo is used by hospitals, eldercare facilities, schools and other organizations to help people stay better connected, allowing users to essentially be in two places at once. Previously, Thomas was the Director of Sales & Marketing at iRobot Corporation. Under his leadership iRobot secured over $300M in contracts and revenue from its government and industrial products increased from $2M to over $80M annually. In addition Thomas held roles in program management, overseeing the development of some of iRobot’s most successful products. Mr. Ryden serves as the co-chairman of the robotics cluster of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and is on the board of directors of AUVSI New England and the Robotics Technology Advisory Panel for ASME. Mr. Ryden has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Vermont and an MBA from Bentley University.

Dr. Alina A. von Davier

Chief of Assessment, Duolingo; Founder & CEO, EdAstra Tech; President, International Association of Computerized Adaptive Testing

Alina von Davier, PhD. is a Chief of Assessment at Duolingo, an EdTech company, and Founder & CEO of EdAstra Tech, an education consulting company. At Duolingo von Davier and her team operate at the forefront of Computational Psychometrics. Her current research interests involve developing psychometric methodologies in support of digital-first assessments, such as the Duolingo English Test. Von Davier is an award winner author and sought after speaker. In 2020, von Davier was awarded a Career Award from the Association of Test Publishers (ATP). In 2018, she was a finalist for the “Visionary” Category from EdTech Digest. Prior to Duolingo she was a Chief Officer at ACT, where she led ACTNext, a large R&D-innovation unit. Before that von Davier was a Senior Research Director at Educational Testing Service (ETS) where she led the Computational Psychometrics Research Center. Prior to that, she led the Center for Psychometrics for International Tests, where she was responsible for both the psychometrics in support of international tests, TOEFL® and TOEIC®, and the scores reported to millions of test takers annually. Von Davier is currently the president of the International Association of Computerized Adaptive Testing (IACAT) and she serves on the board of directors for the Association of Test Publishers (ATP). She served on the Board of Directors for SmartSparrow, an adaptive learning startup. She has mentored for the Startup Weekend. She is a mentor in the via:mentor—Mentoring Programme for Female Postdoctoral Researchers, University of Kiel, Germany. She earned her doctorate in mathematics from Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg, Germany, and her master of science degree in mathematics from the University of Bucharest, Romania.

Judith Underwood
Co-Founder and CEO, Blue Institute Labs

Judith Underwood is an entrepreneur, educator and an environmentalist. She is the Co-Founder of the Blue Incubator (Blue Institute Labs, PBC), a Public Benefit Corporation, which will be the first BlueTech hub (Blue Innovation Center) on the US Eastern Seaboard with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean serving entrepreneurs, and the Blue Cluster of academia, government agencies and established companies who need share, collaborative on-sight services and reliable ocean access for testing, training, and teaching. 

Judith is also the Founder of its sister institution, the Blue Institute at Cape Cod Bay, a non-profit global hub for water education & research. Both the Blue Incubator and the Blue Institute focus on water security and climate change solutions. Judith has 20+ years of scientific development & technology transfer work at research and educational institutions including MIT, the United Nations, and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. 

She has a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts Boston, a Master’s from New York University, and has additional graduate environmental studies from Antioch University New England. Judith lives on Cape Cod where she serves on the Regional Wastewater Taskforce and as an elected Water Commissioner for the Town of Harwich.

Jon Weaver

President & CEO, 

Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives

Jon is the President & CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (MBI).  Founded in 1985, MBI is the longest running life science business incubator in the Commonwealth and serves as an economic development catalyst.  MBI operates four StartUp & ScaleUp Center incubator facilities totaling 50,000 SF and has helped launch over 100 companies that have created nearly 900 jobs in the Commonwealth.  As an economic development advocate, MBI serves on the City of Worcester’s Economic Development Coordinating Council and supported the development of the Reactory Biomanufacturing Park, Gateway Park, UMass Medicine Science Park, & Redstone Center. MBI also supports the Increasing Diversity in STEM Workforce Initiative, a partnership of MBI, the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, Worcester State University & Quinsigamond Community College.   While President & CEO, Jon has doubled MBI’s capacity to support early stage companies with the construction of the StartUp & ScaleUp Centers at 17 Briden Street.  Jon has also launched several new business support and mentoring programs to help early stage companies raise capital, build teams, and advance new treatments to patients.  

Jon received his Bachelors and MBA from Assumption University.  He previously served as Vice President, Real Estate at MassDevelopment and Senior Project Manager at the Worcester Business Development Corporation.  Prior to assuming the role of President & CEO, Jon served as the Chief Operating Officer of MBI for four years.  Jon is a current Board Member of Assumption University, the Worcester Regional Research Bureau, the Venture Forum, Berkshire Bank Central MA Advisory Board, Grafton Community Advisory Group, and Alumni Advisor to the Worcester Student Government Association.