Advisory Board

André holds a degree in law and resided in Macau, China for a decade, where he worked as a lawyer and legal consultant during the region’s transition to Chinese administration. Upon returning to Portugal in 2005, he provided advisory services to the National Parliament Committee on Constitutional Affairs. Between 2012 and 2019, André served as a member of Microsoft Portugal, holding the position of Public Sector Executive and playing an integral role within the Leadership Team as National Technology Officer. From 2019 to 2022, he assumed the role of Secretary of State for Digital Transition within the XXII Government of Portugal leading the development of the first Action Plan for Portugal’s Digital Transition. He successfully launched initiatives such as Digital Innovation Hub Networks, Test Beds, and Technological Free Zones. André also played a pivotal role in overseeing the Digital Component of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Council, which resulted in the establishment of ESNA. André currently leads Microsoft’s newly launched Digital Development Program, which aims to support the 46 Least Developed Countries in harnessing the power of digital technology as a catalyst for economic growth.

Nicolas Brien is an entrepreneur, investor and board member.  He is a vibrant advocate of the EU tech sovereignty and has chaired the European Startup Network, the most influential industry group representing startups in Brussels. Mr. Brien sits on the Board of companies and foundations in Europe and Asia, such as Heritage, Vidacity, Tilder or France Alzheimer.  After successfully restructuring EuraTechnologies, Europe’s largest startup incubator, he entered into stealth mode and has been working on a Greentech project. From 2016 to 2021, he led France Digitale, Europe’s largest Startup organization with 2000+ startup members and 100+ VC. Prior to joining the digital ecosystem, he ran the Direction of Studies at Kantar and was a senior advisor to Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (Spokeswoman of the French Government). In 2022, Mr Brien was nominated “European leader of the year” by Brussels-based Foundation Friends of Europe.

Veroniek Collewaert is a professor of Entrepreneurship at Vlerick Business School and KU Leuven (Belgium). Before that, she was a professor at Maastricht University and received her PhD from Ghent University in Belgium. She was also a visiting scholar at Stanford Graduate School of Business (USA). In 2014, she founded the Centre for Excellence in Scaleups at Vlerick, which has trained hundreds of scaleup entrepreneurs on how to overcome their key growth challenges. She has a longstanding research track record in funding and people challenges in young companies. She has also held board positions at Belgian scaleups and is also a member of the Board of BAN Vlaanderen, Belgium’s business angel association. In 2023, she also co-founded the European Scaleup Institute, aiming to bridge the scaleup gap in Europe.

Sam brings a wealth of experience and achievements to the Europe Startup Nations Alliance Advisory Board. Sam actively fosters collaboration and mentorship, showcasing his passion for nurturing talent and underserved entrepreneurs. His extensive network and affiliations underline his contributions as a respected thought leader. With his strategic thinking and innovation, Sam is poised to significantly impact the Advisory Board, advancing the interests of European startups globally. His impressive accomplishments and industry affiliations make him an invaluable addition to the organization.

Martina Fitzgerald is CEO of Scale Ireland, an independent representative organisation supporting Irish tech startups and scaling companies. Engaging with founders, investors and government, she advocates for the 2,200 startup companies in Ireland. She is also involved in international start-up networks. Martina has completed a leadership programme at Harvard Business School and was a Visiting Fellow at Columbia University. Additionally, she serves as a non-executive director of the Irish association of international humanitarian organisations. Previously, she was a leading political correspondent and authored the best-selling book, “Madam Politician”.

Carolin is the co-founder of Mintbase, a NFT infrastructure tool. Mintbase provides the best possible way for users to create and sell products and services in the new virtual economy. Before Mintbase, Carolin worked for members of the German parliament where she researched different aspects of blockchain technology.

Sabrina Gülck is a forward-thinking entrepreneur with a strong business background and a deep passion for building early-stage companies. As a founder of a tech startup and former Big Four management consultant, she is driven by her enthusiasm for innovation, critical thinking and problem-solving. Sabrina plays an active role in shaping the Munich innovation ecosystem, both as an entrepreneur and as a board member of the Young Bavarian Economic Advisory Council. She is a European at heart and a fellow of the EU-supported program ‘The Break’ that connects a community of 1,000 female entrepreneurs across Europe. Sabrina is looking forward to contributing her expertise to supporting ESNA in achieving its mission of accelerating the growth of European entrepreneurship.

Ricardo Greenfield is dedicated to fostering innovation ecosystems globally. As a Management Board member of EurA Group and CEO of EurA Brussels & Portugal, he focuses on deep tech start-ups and scale-ups. Ricardo facilitates their collaboration with investors, corporations, and public procurers, working with venture builders and accelerators. He has managed and advised on various programs, including the European Innovation Council Business Acceleration Services and Venture Building Programs. Ricardo is part of the Start for Future Cooperative and also involved in projects like Dealflow and Eu4Algae. Passionate about win-win value negotiation, he delivers training to C-Level professionals and holds a master’s degree and a PhD in engineering systems and entrepreneurship.

Vit Horky is a startup founder and investor. He co-founded Czech Founders VC and Czech Founders, a non-profit supporting the Czech startup ecosystem. Previously, he founded and led Brand Embassy, a B2B technology startup that expanded globally, acquired Fortune 500 clients in 30+ countries, had 130+ employees, and raised over $6M in venture capital. Brand Embassy was acquired in 2019 by NICE, a publicly traded technology company. Vit also founded Inspiro, a digital advertising agency, and served as CEO before its acquisition by Publicis Groupe. He holds board positions in various non-profits focused on impact innovation (Moonshot Platform), youth entrepreneurship (Muzes Podnikat), and youth education (Dofe, Open Society Foundation Czech Republic). Vit earned a bachelor’s degree from Teesside University in the UK and has lived in London, UK, and Southern California, USA. He currently resides in Prague, Czech Republic, with his wife and three children.

Steven brings over a decade of experience in product management, design, and development from Silicon Valley for companies such as Apple, HP, Facebook, and Google as well as having founded and exited his own start-up. Steven currently leads Lakestar’s Deep Tech investing team where he searches for companies that will be global leaders built on fundamentally novel scientific or engineering breakthroughs. As Chief Product Officer, he additionally supports the broader investment team on product related topics as well as offers value-add support to portfolio founders and CPOs. Mr. Jacobs has a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University where he guest lectures and a dual Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Material Science Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Omar is part of the Public Policy team for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Stripe where he leads on startup policy and user engagement. He has worked in various roles within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Europe and the Middle East, including as a startup mentor and government advisor. At Stripe, Omar contributed to the development of European Tech Voices, a comprehensive report that analyzed the barriers to and enablers of growth of 200 of Europe’s fastest growing startups and scaleups. He partners with key stakeholders in the startup ecosystem, including industry associations, policymakers, and regulators, to share insights from businesses on Stripe and help advance the startup and digital policy agenda in the region.

Award winning-speaker, educator and consultant, Liina has been in the startup field for nearly a decade. Liina leads the decacorn Deel’s expansion into CEE and is the founding partner at The Better Fund.

English entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in the online sector in Spain and an extensive experience in creating successful companies. In 1997, Michaud founded the company LatinRed, one of the largest providers of internet services in Spanish, and then sold it to StarMedia two years later. During his career, he has founded several companies, including Inlander, which was sold in 2000; Binaria, a successful digital communication agency; and Transword, an online translation company. After 9 years leading the Betfair team, at the end of 2014 he joined-up with Oscar Pierre to create Glovo.

Thaleia is an active Angel investor passionate about supporting founders with the ambition to solve interesting problems. She has worked as a seed-stage investor with Marathon VC for seven years, starting from its inception and contributing to its industry-leading performance. Previously, she has served as Investment Banking Analyst in a boutique advisory in Munich and the M&A Industrials team of Merrill Lynch in London. Her experience spans seed stage investing to billion dollar transactions for large multinationals. Thaleia has studied Mechanical Engineering in NTUA and Financial Engineering at Imperial College London.

In her role, she advocates for better regulation for tech startups in the European Union and beyond. With a passion for technology and entrepreneurship, Ines has dedicated her career to driving policies and initiatives that foster growth and support for startups. She collaborates with policymakers, industry stakeholders, startup communities, and entrepreneurs to address challenges and unlock opportunities that drive innovation forward. She has been active in promoting the Startup Nations Standard at the global level and global ecosystem initiatives. Inés holds an MA from the University of Kent in Political Strategy and Communication and is based in Brussels.

Nina Nikolich is a Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (SwissEP) Officer and co-founder of Startup Macedonia, with extensive experience in developing and strengthening the startup and innovation ecosystem in MKD and the Balkan region. She was appointed as the 1st Startup Ecosystem Lead at Fund for Innovations and Technology Development because Nina strategically fosters collaboration and synergies among startups, partner organizations, policy makers, and local and regional/international ecosystem actors. Since recently, she is a founding member of and in the Secretariat of the Western Balkan Startup Alliance.

Padraig is a Brussels insider with a focus on shaping favorable regulations for EU fintech companies. With vast experience in strategic advisory and government outreach, he currently serves as COO of ETPPA, a prominent fintech association in Europe. His involvement in early-stage policy formation covers critical areas such as open banking and the move to open finance, data protection, AML obligations, and instant payments. Previously, he advised C-suite executives and startup founders in the fintech and digital sectors, working on significant files like GDPR and PSD2. Padraig’s diverse background includes time at Europol and lobbying for the EU plastics industry. He holds degrees in law and economics and is a certified information privacy professional.

Clark Parsons is the Managing Director of the Berlin-based Internet Economy Foundation, focusing on Europe’s digital future. Starting as a US journalist, he transitioned to Germany with a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship. Throughout his career, he worked with internet companies, managed media projects, and co-founded Vortel GmbH, a German voice-over-IP telephone company. Clark also led the Berlin School of Creative Leadership and advises digital companies through iconomy GmbH. He speaks at global events like DLD and Munich Security Conference.

Thijs is a Managing Partner at, with offices in Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal and the UK. Thijs has over 15 years of Venture Capital experience at funds like Holtzbrinck Digital, Corporate Venture arms and Family offices and has held several board seats at high growth startups as well as interim CFO/CEO roles. Thijs has a degree in Physics from Imperial College London and has invested mainly in companies in the Deeptech, Hardware, FinTech, SaaS and Academic sectors. Now he is supporting the €10bn EIC Fund to help Europe’s most promising startups find co-investors and scale up.

Markus Raunig is the Chairman of AustrianStartups – Austria’s leading think tank for innovative entrepreneurship. He co-authors Austria’s largest startup study, acts as a board member of the European Startup Network and co-hosts the successful tech podcast Future Weekly. Selected as a member of the Startup Council by the Austrian government, he guest lectures about startups & technological transformation and is pushing for Europe to develop into a hub for innovative entrepreneurship and new technologies.

Annemaria is a multi-talented professional with extensive experience in marketing, startups, and fashion. With EMBA degrees in Leadership and Art and Cultural Heritage Management, she held leadership roles in renowned companies like Trussardi, Ferragamo, and Superga. Currently, as CEO of TheBrandSitter, she focuses on strategic development for high-end brands globally. Annemaria is also the founder of Angels4Women, a group supporting female startups. Recognized for her accomplishments, she advises Women7 and W20 and authored the book “Il Lusso… Magia & Marketing.” She serves as a visiting professor at prestigious universities worldwide.

Joao Trigo da Roza is an accomplished business executive and advisor, and a prominent developer of the Portuguese and European entrepreneurship ecosystem, bringing more than 30 years of experience managing and advising large corporations.

Joao served as CEO of Portugal Telecom, a PSI listed company with presence in Portugal, Africa, Brazil and China, where he had the opportunity to  spearhead the collaboration between a large company and startups.

He started a consultant career with McKinsey and later was partner and country manager of AT Kearney.

In the last 15 years Joao,  founded Toplever, a top management consulting firm, and has worked across several different sectors (energy, telecom, manufacturing, consumers goods, venture capital), leading topline growth and M&A projects.

Joao is also the co-Founder of Investors Portugal, an Association that represents the early-stage investors in Portugal

He is also the Vice-Presidency of BAE, the European Federation of Business Angels, and in this capacity, he has acquired strong knowledge of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and built a broad network with European policy makers.

In parallel, Joao has been an active investor in different fields, with particular interest in Artificial Intelligence and the Green Economy. He has supported several flourishing startups and made a few successful exits.

Tatjana is a Managing Partner in South Central Ventures and has more than 15 years of experience in VC investing. She co-founded the Slovenia first VC fund in 2008 and South Central Ventures in 2015. She was involved in over 40 investments in tech start-ups from across the region and holds a few board positions in portfolio companies. Apart from the investment activity her responsibilities in South Central Ventures include operations management and investor relations. Tatjana is also the European Investment Council Expert and Jury Member. Prior to her career in VC, she spent 3 years as advisor in corporate finance in Deloitte Slovenia. She acted as a Head of the Minister’s office at the Slovenian Ministry of Economy and prior to that as the Operations Manager at the Research Centre of the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana. She holds an MSc in Management from Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana.

Simon Zajc has a wide range of experience in both the economic sector and state administration. As Minister, and previously, State Secretary at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, he focused on the implementation of measures to mitigate the effects of climate change, on the rehabilitation of brownfield areas in Slovenia and on solving the challenges of waste management in Slovenia. He also coordinated an inter-ministerial working group dealing with the regularisation of implementing regulations regarding the entry of the right to drinking water in the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. Mr. Zajc already intensively dealt with this topic as deputy of the National Assembly in his previous term of office, while as Vice President of the National Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Food, he paid particular attention to the development of small family farms and to the revival of the forest-wood chain. Mr. Zajc currently works with young Slovenian start up trying to help European companies on their path to reduce CO2 emissions. 

Greta Žėkienė is the Head of Intellectual Property Management at Kaunas University of Technology’s National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center since 2015. With over 20 years of experience, she specializes in IP and business development, managing IP commercialization and strategies. Greta mentors startups and spinoffs and leads IP modules at KTU. She holds a WIPO certificate and represents TTO Lithuania and TTO Baltic network. Greta actively participates in various IP organizations and working groups. Previously, she worked with the Lithuanian Copyright Protection Agency and the largest publishing houses. Greta holds degrees in Political Science, Economics, and Intellectual Property Law and Management.