Biosphere Mentors

Biosphere thanks its mentors for the time and dedication they are providing the programme and its participant teams. Get to know them below!

Would you like to work with Helsinki Incubators and become one of our valued mentors? Please check out our contact details at the bottom of the page.
Jesper Brunhøj Olsen — Group Head of Industry for Meta

Jesper Brunhøj Olsen is the Group Head of Industry for Meta where he leads teams responsible for relationships with the largest export and omni-channel partners in the region. Prior to Meta, Brunhøj Olsen worked at Google consulting top clients and agencies while leading the regional Creative Lab for Innovation. He serves on the Danish Management Society, and is an active Investor.

Brunhøj Olsen's special skills & interests include partnerships, sales, marketing, tech, venture, and funding.

María Rojas Fraile — Investment Director at Net Zero Ventures

María Rojas Fraile has 15 years of experience in the energy sector, having worked in different positions at Repsol. Since October 2022, she has worked asInvestment Director in Net Zero Ventures (NZV), a new venture capital investment fund created by Repsol and Suma Capital to invest in CleanTech companies. Rojas has both a technical background and experience as a process engineer in the petrochemical industry, as well as management expertise in sustainability with across cutting vision of an energy company and deep knowledge in environmental and carbon topics.

From 2017 to 2022, Rojas worked in the Repsol Corporate Venturing Fund, focusing on investing in technology-based startups and the active management of portfolio companies. She has been involved in several successful transactions, such as Tactotek, Recreus, Ezzing, Begas, Nanogap, and others while also contributing in their boards. Additionally, she has collaborated with OGCI CI, an international fund to accelerate the industry response to climate change.

Christian Lindener — Co-Managing Partner EMEA at Mach49

Christian Lindener is the Co-Managing Partner EMEA at Mach49 and a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded several successful startups, including Reflex Aerospace — the first venture-backed satellite manufacturer in Europe, a virtual reality startup that was acquired by, and Skyroads — an open digital operations platform for the urban air mobility market. He was also CEO of UN:IO Enterprise GmbH, Europe's first low latency and high bandwidth satellite mega constellation. 

Before joining Mach49, Lindener served as Head of Airbus Scale — Airbus’ central innovation unit — where he drove all of the company’s internal and external innovation activities. He also served as Managing Director of Wayra Germany — Telefónica’s CVC arm — where he oversaw the strategic direction of the organisation and managed the selection of and investment in startups to be integrated into Telefónica’s portfolio.

Lindener has created and advised over 20 incubator and accelerator programmes across Germany, Switzerland, and Austria and holds board seats at several high-tech, high-growth startups across Europe. As Co-Founder and Director of TechFounders — a high-tech hardware accelerator based in Munich — he was responsible for the development of over 50 high-tech startups.

Born in Brazil and raised in Mexico, Lindener holds degrees in international business administration and economics from the Leopold-Franzens University in Innsbruck, the University of New Orleans, and the University of Barcelona. He now lives in Barcelona with his wife and two children, and enjoys surfing the European swells in his free time.

Natalie Skvortsova — Startup & Tech Leader Coach

Natalie Skvortsova has worked in tech for fourteen years, including the most recent eleven at Google. She has a unique understanding of what is needed to launch products that resonate with users, and of how to bring those products to the market quickly. Skvortsova coaches startup founders and tech leaders, and has has lived in six countries, always curious to explore new cultures. 

As a mentor, she can help to:

- Build a product strategy and a roadmap for your product

- Determine what metrics you should use to measure your product's success

- Structure your customer research and capture customer insights

- Improve your team's co-working, increasing speed and results

- Come up with a personal development plan

- Improve your programme or project management skills to better execute projects

Martin Quach — Serial Entrepreneur, Founder & Partner at Happy Homes Ventures, Climate Impact Advisor at Terraformation

“I stand for all people and all life being at home and thriving on the planet that we call home.”

Martin Quach is a serial entrepreneur, who has co-founded four technology startups. He is the founder and partner at Happy Homes Ventures—the regenerative nature restoration advisory. Quach was nominated as the lead mentor for Techstars Portugal and has advised several technology startups from the bootstrapped iPaper to the venture backed SecretCityTrail and the NGO NuOceans. He is an ambassador at Vlinder and hosts two podcasts, Let's Talk Climate Business and Masters of Grit, where he interviews successful founders on their source of grit. He has led digital marketing for Red Bull TV, growth at Lunar Bank, and has experience from Google advising top tier growth clients on how to create success online.

As his special skills, Quach names his aptness of connecting the dots where there is none, and designing ventures that all stakeholders want to contribute to.

Sam Laakkonen — Senior Director of Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship at CISL/University of Cambridge

Sam Laakkonen has been nominated Head Mentor and Senior Advisor for Incubator Operations at the University of Helsinki. Laakkonen started his career as a management consultant in the City of London from where he was headhunted to join his first startup, FirstMark Communications, which raised the largest telecommunications Series A round in European history, $1.5 billion. At FirstMark, he was responsible for building and running the company's Spanish office, which would eventually grow to a 5,000km network, 65 employees, and €300 million in booked revenue before a trade sale exit to Colt Technologies.

He has subsequently been an early employee at Spotify, privately invested in over 25 startups, had 3 further successful exits from companies, helped well over 100 startups to accelerate growth, and worked for the European Commission to distribute over €1 billion in equity and grant funding. 

Laakkonen has been active in the Techstars ecosystem for a number of years, having been an Entrepreneur-In-Residence for Techstars Amsterdam, and a Lead Mentor on a number of programmes including Techstars Lisbon, Techstars Korea, Techstars Boulder and Techstars Energy in Oslo, amongst others.

Over the last couple of years Laakkonen's focus has increasingly shifted onto sustainability and impact, and how technology can be leveraged to protect the planet and to improve the quality of our lives. This he gets to investigate in his current position at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), a globally influential institute developing leadership and solutions for a sustainable economy.

Andreas Roos — Head of Design Strategy at Visa

Andreas Roos is a designer of creative culture & behaviour. He is fascinated by herding cats and transforming hippos into creative collaborators tackling the challenges of the future, and is engrossed by user focused innovation & creativity formats that drive real business value. Roos approaches serious things playfully and playful things seriously, and is convinced that creativity will be the key differentiator that saves us all from the AI-doom of the future.

As a special skill, Roos names his ability to look at things from different angles & perspectives. He is passionate about end-to-end experiences that people can actually consume, and that have solid stories attached to them. He is a big believer in using behavioural science for good, and gets excited about any human-challenge.

Hemal Gor — Associate Consultant at PwC Strategy&

Hemal Gor is a strategy consultant at PwC Strategy& and has advised clients across several sectors with project work involving commercial due diligence, growth strategies, business case support and strategic options prioritised. He also worked at PwC Raise Ventures, advising early-stage, high-growth companies in the build up and through their Series A investment rounds. Here, he has prepared pitch decks, critiqued financial models and curated data rooms for clients.

Gor is able to draw on his reaching network across the European venture capital landscape and several PwC subject matter experts to support companies. He is also able to leverage PwC's yearly analysis of term sheets, and thus comment on whether deal terms are market standard.

In sum, Gor's expertise spans early-stage financial modelling, go-to-market planning, commercial due diligence, global expansion, market sizing, and venture capital.

Aline de Santa Izabel — Expert Advisor and Innovation Ecosystems Manager

Aline de Santa Izabel is an entrepreneur and biosciences specialist with a broad experience in entrepreneurship and innovation at a European level. She has been working with different startups and scaleups operating at the intersection of business, science, and tech focused on impact. She also advocates for female entrepreneurship, promoting diversity and inclusion, and empowering the next generation of founders.

Santa Izabel is currently supporting the development of the Deeptech ecosystem in the Nordics and Baltics by accelerating innovative startups through her work as an Expert Advisor in Deeptech, Biotech, and Foodtech at the European Commission's European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator and Women EUTech Horizon Europe Framework funding programmes. She also lectures at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), and works as an ecosystem builder at DigitalWell Ventures and DigitalWell Arena, an innovation platform from the Compare Foundation supported by the Swedish Innovation agency.

Mikko Ylä-Kauttu — Head of Energy at Nokia

Mikko Ylä-Kauttu is the head of energy business for Mobile Networks at Nokia. He has more than 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, successfully leading and developing Nokia business in Latin America, Asia, Europe, Middle East. He has been working with Communication Service Providers and Enterprises on several new technology introductions like cloud, 5G and IoT. As a senior leader in international business, Mikko has a proven track record on building strong customer relationships & leading teams in a variety of cultures and business environments. He holds a MSc in Industrial Management from the Helsinki University of Technology in Finland. 

Juan Manuel Bañez Romero — Head of Circular Economy Policy at Amazon EU

Juan Manuel Bañez Romero is the Head of Circular Economy Policy, EU at Amazon. In his current role, he is leading the implementation of the circular economy advocacy strategy for Amazon in Europe, including ecodesign and the digital product passport, waste management, packaging sustainability, right to repair, green claims, plastics, and textile strategies among others. Prior to joining Amazon, Bañez worked as Sustainability Advocacy Lead EMEA for Amcor Flexibles, leading the implementation and coordination of Amcor sustainability advocacy strategy in the EMEA region with a key focus on packaging sustainability and circular economy. He also worked in the FMCS sector as the Sr. European Manager of Government Relations, leading Mars’ strategy and engagement regarding the EU Institutions on environmental/sustainability topics. Bañez is also registered as External Expert (reserve list) for the European Commission - DG REGIO on Environment, Circular Economy and Resource efficiency, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Fundamental Rights. Before joining the corporate world, Bañez worked at the European Commission assessing projects dealing with Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources & Water and international development in the Latin American region and for the Spanish Government in Public Service and Work & Emigration Department.

Bañez also has a vast experience in collaborating with trade associations and global platforms through different Chairmanship roles in some of the main EU trade bodies since 2015 – ie. Waste and Circularity WG at Europen since December 2022, Climate Change expert group at FoodDrinkEurope (from 2015 – 2017), Circular Economy Expert Group at FoodDrinkEurope (2017 to 2020) or the Circular Economy Advocacy Group at the Flexible Packaging Europe (2020 – 2021) as well as the different collaborations at global platforms like; Advisory Board Member of the New Plastics Economy Initiative (NPEC) from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation during his time at Mars or market leader at the EPR expert group within the Consumer Good Forum - Global Waste Project while working at Amcor.

With more than 20 years of professional experience, Bañez has the proven ability to build relationships within and across both the private & public sectors, a talent for transitioning research strategy into policy action, and advocacy strategy.

Núria Renom — Senior Vice President of UPM EMEIA and Americas

Núria Renom is Senior Vice President of the EMEIA & Americas Region at UPM Specialty Papers, leading the commercial development of the region. Prior to that Núria has worked for other Paper and Packaging companies leading business development, sales and product management teams. 

She enable companies to achieve profitable growth by implementing commercial strategies designed for an increasingly interconnected and dynamic world and her expertise lies in providing an international vision that not only drives economic growth but also steers companies towards their sustainability objectives. She's developed this skill through her involvement in executive leadership teams within multinational corporations, as well as through mentoring startups and managing diverse and global teams. 

Thais Maria Glod Nuñez — Entrepreneur, Founder, and Mentor

Thais Maria Glod Nuñez is in innate research and has graduated as an engineer. She has always been passionate about how science and technology can improve people's lives and make the world better. She enjoys sharing her entrepreneurial learnings by mentoring triple sustainable and social innovation projects on European acceleration programs, like Climate KIC, UNDP, EIC Accelerator, Founder Institute, Star Startup, and Youth Business International.

She has founded INNOBOUND, a private innovation agency created to support triple impact solutions that help conquer the European Green Deal objectives. She is also the co-founder of TRL+, an initiative committed to highlighting research projects and turning them into commercially and economically viable triple-impact spin-offs.

She is also part of the board of directors at Asociación Nosotras, a chain of favor movement that helps women entrepreneurs tackle glass ceiling issues. Currently, she is one of the 700 Business Innovation Coaches for the EIC Accelerator of the European Commission. She is also proud to be a part of the Guide of the 200 Reference Women of Innovative Entrepreneurship in Spain and an EU Climate Path Ambassador.

Glod is specialised in communication skills, and is especially interested in helping people with tech & research backgrounds tweak their communication according to different audiences, as well aiding in pitching and deck preparation. She looks forward to helping participants explore innovative approaches and cross-pollination in corporates, SMEs, and startups, define strategy and roadmaps, and validate business models.

Iiro Salkari — Head of Portfolio at Vaisala Xweather

Iiro Salkari is a hands-on strategist with experience from business development and driving new growth organically and inorganically in the technology industry. This has included growing new (digital) business and business transformation, and M&As. He is strongly grounded to technology with a researcher background in industrial engineering and management, and has worked to commercialise research results through spin-offs and technology licensing. Right now, Salkari works as Head of Portfolio at Vaisala Xweather.

For Salkari, while technologies and business are important, neither will happen without great people and teams, and of course customers. In his eyes, the true passion starts from people, team and understanding what drives them, and if we get this right, then there can be good business too.

Cindy Moncada — Sustainability Mentor, Entrepreneurial Practitioner, Venture Analyst

Cindy Moncada is a seasoned professional with a diverse background in economics, finance, business, and data science, who is passionate about driving sustainability and empowering startups. With a strong track record of mentoring founders and startups in the field of sustainability, she specialises in guiding and advising on crucial areas such as strategy, business models, finance, and fundraising.

Having founded a company focused on empowering consumers in the realm of climate action, Moncada brings more than eight years of practical experience to the table. Her venture's eventual sale is a testament to her ability to navigate the complexities of the startup landscape and achieve tangible results.

Currently, Moncada is actively involved in enhancing entrepreneurial education and uplifting capability across higher education institutions and the wider innovation community. Her responsibilities also encompass expanding entrepreneur programs and fostering venture building initiatives throughout Europe.

With prior experience in an investment boutique offering investment banking advisory services, Moncada possesses a deep understanding of the venture capital landscape. Her expertise lies in analysing startups from a VC perspective, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and providing valuable insights to investors. Armed with a comprehensive knowledge of the VC process, Moncada is adept at helping VCs make well-informed investment decisions.

Tony Kouloumbris — Sustainability Mentor, Entrepreneurial Practitioner, Venture Analyst

As a seasoned Business leader and Professional Coach with 30+ years of expertise, Tony Kouloumbris is committed to advancing the interests of Industry, People and Society towards a more balanced, sustainable and meaningful future.  

Kouloumbris has spent most of his career in senior regional and global roles in Market and Consumer Insights/Analytics, Strategy & Innovation/Growth Planning.  In terms of industry expertise, he has worked across several FMCG sectors (Confectionery/Food, Personal Care, Household, and Consumer Healthcare).  

Five years ago he founded his own Advisory Services practice, focusing on Analytics, Growth Planning and Coaching for Scale-ups that are committed to driving growth by consciously addressing the area of Sustainability.  As a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, I work with CEOs/senior leaders and their teams to drive success by living their Values, building Engagement and helping them practice High Performance Collaboration.

At a more personal level, he was born and grew up in Cyprus.  As a Fulbright Scholar, he had the opportunity to complete his graduate studies at Columbia Business School in New York, with an MBA in Marketing and Management.  Over the years, his work gave him the the opportunity to live in the US, Dubai, London and Belgium… and he is currently based in Madrid.

Peik Stenlund — CEO at Circular Carbon

Peik Stenlund has 15+ years of experience in the renewable energy sector as an entrepreneur and management executive, and has co-founded 3 startups in the sustainability sector. He has worked in various capacities in climate tech with projects in the DACH, UK, Japan, India and Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, he is based in Germany, where he's the managing director at one of Europe's largest and most advanced carbon removal facilities.

Stenlund is a lawyer by training with experience in leading complex negotiations and drafting various business contracts. He enjoys working in diverse teams in multicultural environments and has extensive experience in business development and new market entries, as well as raising private and public financing for sustainable businesses.

Elena Fadul — Luxury Brand Developer, Entrepreneurship Researcher

Elena Fadul is an enthusiastic entrepreneur, luxury brand developer, and researcher. With over ten years of experience, Fadul combines an entrepreneurial mindset with a solid theoretical approach in building high-end consumer brands, which pride themselves in traceability, sustainability, and innovation. At Aalto University, Fadul researches the role of intuition in founding team formation. Right now, she is in the process of launching Inca Noir, a lifestyle brand that challenges fast fashion and celebrates indigenous master artisans by co-creating accessories with them.

Oscar Ramirez Muñoz — Co-founder at Startup Commons & CEO at Digiole

Oscar Ramirez Muñoz is the co-founder of Startup Commons, the world's leading open platform about innovation and entrepreneurship, sharing, since 2009, knowledge, education, best practices, software, and data for free under open-source & creative commons -licenses — to scale innovation entrepreneurship around the world. 

Ramirez is also the CEO at Digiole, a Helsinki-based tech company, which owns all the Startup Commons open-source and creative commons assets and IPs, and provides digital interoperability solutions for economic development units in the context of innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem development. Digiole also provides consulting solutions to help SMEs in their transition to Digital Platform Economy and Ecosystems.

As an innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem architect, Ramirez loves advising, building capabilities, and implementing distributed data infrastructure for local, regional, and national governments in the five continents for more data-driven policymaking and KPI-based startup ecosystem development.

Ramirez also enjoys rolling up his sleeves working hand-in-hand with entrepreneurs. He has delivered around 1000 mentoring sessions with entrepreneurs and startups around the world at various development stages and industries, while also creating meaningful communities like the Lean Startup Costa del Sol Community and organising Startup Weekend events.

Carmo Requejo — Strategic Design Lead at Nacar Design

Carmo Requejo is a Strategic Design Lead at Nacar Design, a multi-awarded agency based Barcelona. With extensive experience spanning two decades, she connects teams from diverse disciplines, including design, production, and business. Requejo's expertise lies in aligning perspectives to meet genuine needs and achieve strategic objectives, particularly in the areas of UX and CX design. Her collaborative experience ranges from startups to global corporations. Additionally, she is deeply committed to contributing to transformative solutions that reshape our way of living and interacting with the world.

Peter Tutelaers — Chief Product Owner at Wärtsilä's Digital Solutions

Experienced mentor Peter Tutelaers has worked at various innovative companies such as TomTom and Philips Innovation Services for the past 15 years. For the last five years at Wärtsilä, Tutelaers has worked on finding ways to make energy production and maritime transport more sustainable. His current position includes a focus on external collaboration with other parties in research and development.

Tutelaers' responsibility is to investigate customer/market needs and translate these into actionable items for development teams, with a focus on maximising value creation and learnings. His employer Wärtsilä has a special interest in how digital technologies can be used in decarbonisation processes and expediting the green transition.

As a strength, Tutelaers names his drive to get to the real root of problems and to find the easiest way to solve them while also having a solid plan to make money in the process. As a team player, he likes working with enthusiastic and driven people, challenging them, and brainstorming together to envision better futures.

Sam Taylor — Investment Manager at PwC Raise Ventures

Sam Taylor is an Investment Manager at PwC Raise Ventures, where he advises early-stage, high-growth companies in the build up and through their Series A investment rounds. Taylor has credentials in supporting companies prepare investor documents such as financial models and wider datarooms. He has a wide-reaching network across the European venture capital landscape and can also draw on PwC's internal network of subject matter experts. Having supported numerous deals, and leveraging PwC's yearly analysis of term sheets, Sam is well poised to comment on the market standards of deal terms in Seed, Series A, and Series B deals.

With an educational background in Biotechnology where he focused on CRISPR gene-editing, Taylor specialises in advising DeepTech companies across several vertices such as HealthTech, CleanTech, computing, and energy to name a few.

Taylor has previous experience as a strategy consultant in the fields of pharma and life sciences, where he has conducted commercial due diligence, growth strategies, and merger/separation support. In sum, Taylor's expertise spans early-stage financial modelling, go-to-market planning, commercial due diligence, global expansion, market sizing, and venture capital.

Benoit Mantel — Business Development & Sales Director at Helsieni

Benoit Mantel is responsible for sales and business development at Helsieni, an urban farm from Finland, that promotes the circular economy principles for growing mushrooms from recycled coffee grounds and other by-products. He brings his commercial expertise to the founding team.

He has a versatile experience of +15 years, mostly in the food industry, working in larger corporations as well as early-stage startups, in private and public sectors, and in various languages and countries, mainly Finland, France, Ukraine, Estonia. He promotes diversity and sustainability at all levels and dimensions of his activities. 

He has studied economics and business administration at Neoma Business School and Aalto University.


Júlio César Pinho — Telecom Engineer, Head of International Sales, M2M/Connectivity at POST Telecom for Business

Júlio César Pinho is a telecom engineer by education and has worked in the information and communication technology industry for more than 18 years.

Pinho has taken a move sideways in his career from pure engineering to more rounded roles, now focusing on things like compliance, process design, transformation, and enterprise risk management. He has also amassed experience in the commercial side of things, such as in negotiation, legal framework matters, sales, marketing, commercial strategy, financial assessment, and product management.

If he were to summarise his superpower in one word, that word would be versatility. As an engineer, he is apt in organising and structuring his ideas, and having his mind focused on objectives. At same time, due to his experience in more general roles, Pinho is skilful in looking for ideas, opportunities, and threats in a more comprehensive way, as in product strengths and weaknesses, potential synergies, and, simply, new ways of doing things. As a cherry on top, Pinho's strong expertise in commercial matters enables him to understand profitability, help create commercial models, and support product positioning.

Pinho is passionate about giving back the expertise he has gained during his years of work experience in various countries (Portugal, Romania, the Emirates, Belgium, and Luxembourg), and loves to help young, dynamic, and versatile dreamers in achieving their goals. He is 41 years of age, married, the proud father of a daughter, and a co-owner of a dog. He used to be a decent piano player but lately he has settled with listening to good music ("whatever it means, depending on the mood!" he says).

Chris Heyer — Investor & Advisor

Chris Heyer started his first company when he was 17. Since then, he has had the opportunity to build various companies – including an innovation consultancy, an innovation hub, and a CVC – and helped build and launch several startups. Previously, he was the Chief Investment Officer at Hypoport SE, the 1st fintech in Germany, and was responsible for Hypoport's CVC Fund as a Managing Partner. He also invests as a business angel, sits on various boards, and supports Etribes as a venture partner.

Since January 2023, he has been bringing his experience, network, and investor know-how to several CVCs and CxOs to help create new business opportunities in a digital world. His intrinsic motivation is to tackle the climate crisis, and is therefore building a climate deep tech fund with an extraordinary team.

Johannes Jaehrig — Industrial Design Lead at Nacar Design

With over 13 years of experience, Johannes Jaehrig is an Industrial Design Lead at Nacar Design. His expertise spans various sectors, such as sporting goods, consumer electronics, life sciences, and medical design. Jaehrig played a pivotal role in establishing HP’s in-house design team, driving the development of their first 3D printers and product range. He focuses on understanding clients needs, creating innovative solutions and strategies, pushing the boundaries of product architecture to reduce complexity, cost, and environmental impact. As a mentor and hands-on designer, Jaehrig has led teams in creating over 25 award-winning products and experiences.

Jaehrig has a gift for finding simplicity in the most challenging projects, he bridges ID, CX and engineering, allowing him to create spaces for transformation, new ideas and innovation.