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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Leapfrogging Development: How New Technologies Will Accelerate Change

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Session Description

New technology and applications have the potential to better reach underserved populations, navigate market gaps, and allow developing countries to leapfrog outdated models entirely. Technology is also improving the development community’s reach and efficiency, radically changing the way social entrepreneurs work. In a series of short talks, this session highlights five breakthrough technologies: digital currencies, drone delivery, remote sensing technology for agriculture, 3D mapping of oceans, and self-powered mobile wifi; and explores the potential each has to disrupt accepted methods of promoting social and environmental progress.



When | Where

10:45 - 12:15 Thursday, April 14 SBS, Lecture Theatre 4

Session leaders

  • Obi Felten Moderator
    Director, Google X, Google
    Obi Felten, Director of X Foundry & Head of getting moonshots ready for contact with the real world Obi leads early stage projects at X, the team behind self-driving cars, self-flying delivery vehicles, energy kites and Internet from balloons. As director of X Foundry, she is responsible for getting early stage X projects from the lab into the real world (or ensuring they fail fast). Previously she was director of consumer marketing for Google in Europe, Middle East and Africa, which sounds like the easiest job in the world until you consider that Google has 100+ products in a region of 120+ countries as diverse as Germany, Russia, Egypt and Kenya. Before Google, Obi launched the ecommerce business of a major UK retailer, worked as a strategy consultant, and led's (unsuccessful) expansion to Germany during the first dotcom era. Obi is a startup mentor and angel investor, with a focus on women entrepreneurs. She set up Campus London, a Google-funded space for tech entrepreneurs. She is on the board of Shift, a non-profit designing products to address social problems like youth mental health. She is also on the board of Picasso Labs, a tech startup. Obi grew up in Berlin and saw the wall come down, then went to read Philosophy and Psychology at Oxford University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband (a beekeeper/triathlete), son (an inventor/ clown) and daughter (too early to tell, but high hopes that she'll be a rocket scientist/diva). She loves yoga, bicycling, travelling, contemporary art and design, cooking, eating, and her family.
  • Sarah Martin Speaker
    Vice President, Digital Currency Council
    Sarah Martin is the Vice President of the Digital Currency Council, the world’s largest bitcoin and blockchain technology trade group. Sarah’s dedicated to harnessing the power of blockchain technology to reimagine financial empowerment and advance inclusive economic growth. Presently, Sarah sits on the US Federal Reserve’s Faster Payments Task Force and speaks worldwide about digital currency and blockchain technology. She has also published about bitcoin in American Banker, VentureBeat, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and is a contributor at The Street. In 2015, Sarah launched the first Bitcoin Women’s Day to celebrate women’s achievements in the digital currency industry and was later named by SWIFT’s Innotribe as one of 2015’s Power Women in FinTech. Previously, Sarah worked overseas in Asia, Latin America/the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa for the US Department of Defense, United Nations (UN), and US Agency for International Development (USAID). She received Superior Honor Awards from USAID for her work in rebuilding post-earthquake Haiti. Sarah graduated cum laude from Cornell University and has a master’s in international economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
  • Jim Taylor Speaker
    Chief Executive, Proximity Designs
    Jim is Co-founder and Chief Executive of Proximity Designs. He has created internationally recognized social impact businesses in agriculture, financial services and renewable energy that serve rural families across Myanmar. He has been a resident in Myanmar since 2004. Prior to co-founding Proximity, Jim worked in the private sector as the chief operating officer of a leading provider of supply chain management software for the global fresh foods industry based in California. He also worked for a privately held, Fortune 200 company – the world’s largest producer and/or processor of pistachios, almonds and citrus. Jim lived in Indonesia for seven years working as an economist for the Indonesian National Economic Planning Agency. He also lived in Cambodia for four years managing a development assistance program. He has worked in India, Bangladesh and Singapore as a consultant. Jim holds an MBA from the University of Southern California and an M.A. from Harvard University.
  • CEO & Co-founder, Matternet, Inc.
    Award-winning designer, inventor and entrepreneur. Founded Matternet and serves as Chief Executive Officer since 2011. Pioneering drone logistics networks for lightweight medical items and commercial goods. Motivated by the desire to solve one of humanity's grand challenges, access to physical goods, by leapfrogging road infrastructure. Holds an BS & MS in Aeronautics Engineering, is a Royal College of Art graduate in Design and is lead inventor in several US and international patents. Speaker, Google Solve for X, 2012 & TED Global, 2013. Tech Pioneer, World Economic Forum, 2015.
  • Sly Lee Speaker
    Founder/ President, The Hydrous
    Sly Lee is a a marine scientist, designer, and serial entrepreneur. His mission is to utilize technology and design thinking to create a space for conversation about sustainability issues surrounding oceans and climate change. As founder of The Hydrous (, Lee incorporated his passion for technology, photography, and design to develop a method to 3D capture coral reefs underwater using photogrammetry. Lee is also a co-founder of Emerge (, a silicon valley based startup born from Singularity University's Global Solutions Program in 2015, the first class to be fully sponsored by Google and NASA. He is a 2015 Fast Company Innovation by Design Award nominee, World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and award winning photographer (
  • Juliana Rotich Speaker
    Exec. Director,
    Juliana Rotich is globally recognized as a technologist, strategic advisor, entrepreneur, futurist, and keynote speaker. Juliana is a Venture Partner in Africa Technology Ventures (ATV) which is raising a $50m fund to invest in and support the growth of tech enabled start-ups in key sectors in East and West Africa. She is on the founding team of BRCK Inc, a hardware company that had developed the BRCK - designed and engineered as a rugged, self-powered, mobile Wi-Fi device which connects people and things to the internet in areas of the world with poor infrastructure. The company also makes other rugged solutions for emerging markets. She is also the co-founder of Ushahidi Inc., a non-profit tech company, born in Africa, which specializes in developing free and open source software for changing how information flows in the world. Strategically spearheading Ushahidi to be translated into over 30 languages, over 90,000 deployments and a 20 million populations reach. Her entrepreneurial panache has given rise to her role as a strategic advisor to the councils of BASF, Microsoft 4Afrika, and Risk Cooperative. She is also a trustee of the iHub in Kenya and Bankinter Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Spain. Juliana currently serves as serves as a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Data Driven Development, and the Kenya Vision 2030 Delivery Board.