Christine Gould

Switzerland, Basel

Christine is the Founder and CEO of Thought For Food (TFF), a unique non-profit innovation platform that empowers brilliant students globally to generate bold, new solutions that tackle the world’s food issues and Head of Next Generation Innovation and Engagement at Syngenta in Switzerland. Christine believes that the power to solve the most pressing challenges faced by humanity lies with the next generation. She holds an MPA with a concentration in Science and Technology Policy from Columbia University and a BA in Political Science and Economics from The American University. She has spent her career working on agriculture and food issues in various leading organizations in the United States and across Europe.

Dr. Dickson


New York, NY

Dr. Dickson Despommier is a microbiologist, an ecologist, and emeritus professor of Public and Environmental Health at the Columbia University. For 27 years he conducted research on cellular and molecular parasitism and held lectures and courses on Parasitic Disease, Medical Ecology and Ecology. In 1999, he founded the root for the idea of raising crops in tall buildings; so called vertical farming with his students. He is author of The Vertical Farm and serves as an advisory to many vertical farming businesses.

Mike Gould

Texas, USA

As a sciencepreneur dedicated to creating positive change in the world, Mike Gould’s experience includes leading innovative research programs ranging from healthy food ingredients to complexit software to vertical farming. Working in start-ups and in large companies, and across academic, government and private sectors, Mike and his teams leverage fundamental discoveries to create new products and technologies that improve the sustainability of modern life.  Today, as Director of Strategic Initiatives for Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Mike focuses on urban water issues and urban food production systems.

Tobias Peggs


Tobias is a serial entrepreneur - primarily in venture-backed tech startup environments. Most recently he was CEO of Aviary in NYC, a creative software platform acquired by Adobe. He has PhD in AI, is a Techstars Mentor in Residence and an active startup advisor. He is now President of The Kitchen - an impact organization with a mission to "strengthen communities through food". The Kitchen operates a family of community-focused restaurants, runs a nonprofit dedicated to educating the next generation, and seeks to join communities to help accelerate their transition towards a real food culture at scale.


den Besten

Netherlands, Den Bosch

Jasper den Besten, professor in new cultivation systems at HAS University of applied sciences in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands has been involved in LED-light research from 2009. His focus is on ‘growing without daylight’ in climate cells of the university and in BrightBox-Venlo, where almost all thinkable vegetable crops, herbs and cresses have successfully been cultivated, as well as a series of potted plants and cut flowers. For the next couple of years research goes into the direction of additional light colours (like green and full spectrum), biological fertilizing and influencing bio-content.


Paul Hardej

Austin, Texas

As VP Hortitecture Lighting Solutions, Hardej applies his vast experience in developing and managing vertical farms to Illumitex’s turnkey lighting solutions program, while also running the company’s marketing efforts. A co-founder of FarmedHere, Hardej served as Chief Technology and Development Officer at the innovative Chicago-area vertical farm. Hardej developed the first organic-certified indoor vertical aquaponic farm in the U.S., designing multi-level indoor aquaponic and hydroponic grow systems with LED grow lights. Hardej studied Architecture at Warsaw’s Polytechnic University and at School of Architecture at University of Detroit. He also studied interior design and merchandising at the International Academy of Merchandising and Design in Chicago. Prior to becoming involved in Urban Agriculture, he designed and developed many award-winning real estate projects including restaurants, offices and multifamily housing. Philanthropic endeavors are important to Paul, as well, and he had been involved in numerous non-profit organizations.