Event Speakers

Debra Hall, Director at Kiwi Innovation Network, and Chair of the Kiwinet Investment Committee

Debra is a director of the Kiwi Innovation Network, and Chair of the Kiwinet Investment Committee, overseeing the deployment of pre-seed acceleration funding into science-based projects from 18 publicly funded research organisations in New Zealand, including Crown Research Institutes and Universities.  She is also an active early stage angel investor in the high growth, tech startup space, provides advice and mentoring to entrepreneurs, and sits on a number of early stage company boards.   Debra believes that the future of our economic wellbeing in the region is critically dependent on taking great science out of the lab, and into the community, to transform our world.

Bella Counihan, Strategic Communications Manager at Universities Australia

Bella Counihan has a decade’s worth of experience working in the world of media and public relations, with a particular focus on the research, education and science sectors. She has worked for The Age, The National Times, The Conversation and the Australian Academy of Science before starting her role working at Universities Australia (UA) as strategic communications manager. 

She has experience in designing, coordinating and implementing communication strategies and campaigns, including UA’s Keep it Clever campaign.

Most recently, she has overseen and developed Universities Australia’s award-winning #UniResearchChangesLives campaign—a set of powerful stories about how Australian university research is transforming the lives of everyday Australians for the better.

Dr Viraj Perera, CEO at UniSA Ventures

Viraj is the CEO of UniSA Ventures – the wholly-owned technology transfer company of the University of South Australia (UniSA). He was previously the CEO of PlaTCOM Ventures – the national technology commercialisation platform of Malaysia, Government of Malaysia. His expertise lies in technology transfer, innovation and commercialisation of early-stage technologies, and has gathered a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field through working for elite organisations such as the University of Oxford and University of Warwick as well as organisations in the private sector. Before moving to Malaysia, Viraj worked for Oxford University Innovation (OUI) – the technology transfer company of the University of Oxford. He was involved in consulting to and advising governments, companies and research organisations on technology development, technology transfer and commercialisation, intellectual property management and discovery, commercialisation strategy and business planning. Viraj was also involved business development, project design and delivery, as well as training and coaching in technology transfer and commercialisation

Dr Rabab Nasrallah, Earlybird Ventures Capitol

A/Prof Grzegorz Liśkiewicz, University of Technology

Rabab Nasrallah is currently a member of the investment team with Earlybird Venture Capital based in Germany, with a major focus on investments in the health care space. Prior to this role, Rabab was the program manager for the INCUBATE accelerator based at the University of Sydney, Australia. With an extensive research background, Rabab has held roles in leading global research organisations in Australia and the UK, including The George Institute for global health, Lowy Cancer Research Centre, Cancer Research UK, and Cambridge University.

Rabab has a PhD in regenerative medicine from UNSW, Australia. Following her postdoctoral fellowship at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, she published a first author Nature paper in 2020.

Grzegorz is a researcher, entrepreneur, science popularizer. He works at the Institute of Turbomachinery, Lodz University of technology. He is working on the design and safety of centrifugal compressors with the goal to make industrial compressors safer and more economic. He graduated his PhD from University of Strathclyde, and visited University of Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds. Grzegorz serves as the Rector’s Proxy for Academic Entrepreneurship, and board of directors member in the University Technology Transfer Center ltd. In years 2018-2020 Grzegorz served as the board of directors member in the Top 500 Innovators Association Poland.

In 2011 Grzegorz co-funded ACADEMYA, company providing solutions for polish authors of research papers. Nowadays, the company is a polish leader in the field. He is a co-founder of the “Innovation & Impact”, a business and scientific journal presenting papers in the field of innovation and tech transfer together with inspiring case studies of successful technology startups.

A/Professor Fatima Nasrallah, University of Queensland

Fatima is an associate professor at the Queensland Brain Institute, at the University of Queensland in Australia.  She works in the development of imaging methodology for clinical applications, mainly Magnetic Resonance Imaging for advancing state-of-the-art methodology for healthcare use.

She graduated from the University of New South Wales in Sydney and then moved to A*STAR Biomedical Sciences in Singapore where she collaborated with pharmaceutical companies like Merck Sharp & Dohm Corp. and GlaxoSmithKline.

In 2020, she was awarded a $1.76m medical research future fund to the development of imaging and fluid-based biomarkers for the prediction of patient outcome following injury and concussion.

She is a research neuroscientist, a scientific writer, and an editor for a number of journals, including Frontiers in Neuroscience and Scientific Reports.