Andreas Efthymiou

Researcher at the Center for Social Innovation -CSI

Andreas Efthymiou is a Researcher at CSI, where he navigates the complexities of strategic planning. His professional journey is marked by roles that have shaped his expertise; these experiences have refined his skills in managing and developing strategic projects while also broadening his understanding of the sociopolitical landscape in which these projects operate.

Sana Afouaiz

CEO of Womenpreneur Initiative

Sana is the founder and CEO of Womenpreneur Initiative, a driving force dedicated to enhancing women’s presence in the entrepreneurial landscape, technology, innovation, and society at large. Under her leadership, Womenpreneur has empowered over 20,000 women across Belgium and the MENA region.

She is the author of “Invisible Women of the Middle East” and has delivered talks in over 50 countries, spanning universities, panel discussions, and prestigious international events.

Sana serves as an advisor to the Brussels government on matters concerning women, leveraging her expertise to drive policy initiatives and foster meaningful dialogue.

Over the past seven years, Sana has lent her expertise to esteemed institutions such as the United Nations, the European Commission, and various corporate entities, providing invaluable guidance on gender-related issues. Her involvement in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) discussions has been instrumental, contributing to the drafting of resolutions and recommendations across global forums in New York, Bali, Geneva, and Paris. Sana has also had the honor of presenting her insights to esteemed UN representatives.

In recognition of her exceptional achievements, Sana has been named an influential woman by the World Bank and an inspiring entrepreneur by Adecco Group. Additionally, she has been recognized as an Influential Female Entrepreneur by Knowing Arabia and Watching Arabia.

Enya Steenssens

Senior Manager at PwC Belgium

Enya Steenssens is a Senior Manager at PwC Belgium, where she coordinates and oversees the Scale Programme for Belgium, supporting the growth of innovative startups across various industries. She manages 10 Belgian startup acceleration programmes under PwC | Scale, where she supports European B2B technology startups in scaling their businesses. This involves providing interactive masterclasses, organizing inspirational events with industry key players, and facilitating curated pitching events to connect startups with PwC’s internal and external network. Furthermore, Enya leads the startup scouting phases, which include database scouting, outreach to international networks, development of inbound and outbound strategies, coordination with the marketing team, creation of longlists, and conducting interviews with over 1,000 startups.

Katerina Theodoridou

Director of R&D and Project Management at the Center for Social Innovation (CSI)

Dr. Katerina Theodoridou is the Director of R&D and Project Management at the Center for Social Innovation (CSI), where she coordinates the organization’s European-funded projects, as well as CSI Academy, through which the project managers that undertake the research and development phases of the projects are trained. A former Fulbright scholar, she holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin, with a specialization in Educational Technology. Her core expertise focuses on program design and evaluation, curriculum development, ICT-based learning, language learning methods, Computer-Assisted Language Learning, and the use of avatars in vocabulary acquisition. In the past 15 years she has worked on projects related to the design and development of interactive games, e-learning, curriculum development, instructional approaches, and innovation infusion in organizations. Specifically, as a researcher, curriculum developer, project manager, and expert facilitator/trainer she has been involved in programs that focus on educational planning, the integration of ICT in education, developing educational materials for online learning and professional training, and assessment of learning needs. She has also worked on various projects that focus on the integration and inclusion of migrants and other marginalized groups. Her research interests include, among others, the integration of technology and online learning environments in teaching and learning, digital literacy for youth, capacity-building skills for educators, the use of ICT in language teaching methods, and project management skills for professionals.

Evi Sereti

Senior Associate in the Advisory department at PwC Cyprus

Specialising in Human Resources with a distinct focus in Learning and Development interventions. Evi leverages her expertise to empower international organisations in the public and private sector to grow through upskilling and reskilling interventions. She has experience in crafting and facilitating innovative and sustainable training solutions, utilizing a diverse array of methodologies including face-to-face or virtual workshops, development centers, and e-Learning courses. Her capabilities include experience in business transformation from strategy to execution with a focus on Human Resource elements, both within the public and private sector. Her multifaceted skill set encompasses governance and organizational restructuring, development of HR processes and procedures, workforce and succession planning, skills and competencies assessment, people engagement surveys, and performance and reward management processes. Evi is adept at fostering stakeholder engagement and aligning HR strategies with overarching business objectives, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability. Moreover, Evi boasts experience in customer and user experience services. Using a diverse range of research methods, she analyses behaviours and with the strategic application of design thinking processes, she crafts compelling customer journeys and personas that elevate the overall user experience and drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. Evi has a MSc in Human Resource Management, from the University of Cyprus, and a BSc in Psychology, obtained from the University of Crete in Greece. 

Konstantina Ioannou

Assistant Manager in the Advisory Department at PwC Cyprus

Where she serves as an expert in innovation and entrepreneurship within the Business Consulting unit. In addition to her role, she serves as the coordinator of the PwC Cyprus Scale-up Programme, designed to provide startups with specialized services and tools to accelerate growth. Her responsibilities include overseeing the program’s design, establishment, and operation. Bringing over 6 years of extensive experience, Konstantina has played a pivotal role in managing and contributing to the implementation of various European and National funded projects, including Horizon, Erasmus+, and Interreg.  She is deeply engaged in representing PwC Cyprus in entrepreneurship and tech events, such as Cyprus Entrepreneurship Competition (CyEC), Student Innovators (SINN) Competition, BridgeSTEAM, etc.  Moreover, Konstantina actively participates in other innovation and entrepreneurship endeavors, offering guidance on European and National Funding Opportunities and crafting communication strategies and action plans to support the development of innovative products and services. Noteworthy engagements include contributing to the Development of Cyprus’s long-term economic strategy under the Cyprus Economy & Competitiveness Council – DG REFORM, as well as collaborating on the formulation of Cyprus’s Recovery & Resilience Plan with the Ministry of Finance. Konstantina’s academic background includes an MSc in Biomedical Sciences and a BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Cyprus, underpinning her interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving and strategic planning within the realm of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Charis Kourtelli

Senior Manager in the Advisory Department at PwC Cyprus

Brings a wealth of expertise in state governance and policy optimisation. With a focus on enhancing the efficiency of government organisations and service delivery, Charis has spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at refining governance structures, implementing key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge progress, and streamlining regulatory processes to reduce administrative burdens. Throughout her career, Charis has played a pivotal role in driving reform within the Cyprus government and public sector. Her responsibilities have encompassed stakeholder identification, mapping, and engagement through a variety of interactive platforms, including physical and virtual workshops. Charis’s professional repertoire extends to co-creating strategic visions, fostering leadership alignment, and guiding organizational restructuring in alignment with corporate objectives. She excels in evaluating operating models, pinpointing areas for enhancement, and delivering comprehensive recommendations and action plans to drive meaningful change and transformation. Charis has a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), obtained from the EDHEC Business School in France and a BSc in Economics, obtained from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.

Alberto Licciardello

Policy Officer, DG Grow – Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Alberto is currently working in the Directorate General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, in the Unit for Proximity, Social Economy and Cultural&Creative Industries. He is part of the Social Economy Team and deals with project relating to social innovation and regional issues.

At the European Commission since 2002, in his career he has been dealing mainly with Innovation and Industrial policy. He carried out projects in the field of Innovation analysis and measurement, Industrial modernisation, Inter-regional cooperation and Smart Specialisation. 

Alberto graduated in Political Science specialising in Economics and holds a Master in Business Administration and Marketing. Before joining the European Commission he worked for about ten years in Italy in the private sector as marketing manager, independent business advisor and free-lance export manager for small and medium-size enterprises.

Eefje De Stuyverij

Eefje appears to be a remarkable individual who has leveraged her life experiences as a driver to develop systemic solutions and become a serial social entrepreneur. Her focus on involving all stakeholders in society is commendable, as it promotes a holistic approach to addressing complex issues. In summary, Eefje’s approach focuses on inclusivity, community engagement, and grassroots innovation to address complex societal challenges. Her company’s, such as Cokido and the 6 pollinator hubs, De Stuyverij, promote a bottom-up approach to problem-solving and have a positive impact on various aspects of society in Flanders.

Sam Taylor

Sam Taylor is a Manager at PwC Raise Ventures, where he advises early-stage, high-growth companies in the build up and through their Series A investment rounds. He is also a mentor for the University of Helsinki’s Biosphere incubator where he advises companies on early product and go to market strategies. 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, Sam specialises in advising DeepTech companies across several vertices such as HealthTech, CleanTech, Computing, and Energy to name a few. Sam 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, Sam’s expertise spans early-stage financial modelling, go-to-market planning, commercial due diligence, global expansion, market sizing, and venture capital.

Eleni Ploutarchou

Mrs. Eleni Ploutarchou is a motivated individual with excellent communication and problem-solving skills gained from her work experience. Her positive attitude, sociability, and team spirit make her an asset in any team-oriented environment. With a Bachelor’s degree in Human Studies focusing on politics and history, and a Master’s in Intercultural/Multicultural and Diversity Studies, she’s well-equipped to handle cultural perspectives and diversity-related issues. Her involvement in European projects, individual/group counseling, and initiatives related to migration, climate change, education, and social inclusion showcases her commitment to positive societal contributions. Active in university programs, Eleni is dedicated to personal growth. Her academic foundation and practical experience make her valuable in social sciences, diversity and inclusion, and community development roles, excelling in addressing diverse social issues, fostering inclusion, and collaborative teamwork.

Emily Psara

Emily Psara holds a BA in Political Sciences from Aristotle’s University of Thessaloniki in Greece, and a MA in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester, UK. Her postgraduate work focused mainly on the fragile and constable nature of borders, and on the cultural construction of the past. In addition to her studies, she has been involved in ethnographic and film projects dealing with the phenomenon of migration and cultural diversity. As a member of the Center for Social Innovation team she works as a Senior Project Manager and on projects focusing on environmental education and awareness, social entrepreneurship, and gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Dr. Sotiris Themistokleous

the Director of Strategic Development of the Center for Social Innovation - CSI.

Sotiris is coordinating the grants and tenders’ preparations, applications, and fundraising services of the organization, and his team is coordinating the overall networking and outreach activities of CSI.

The CSI is awarded projects from a wide range of Global, European, and International funding agencies such as Horizon Europe, ERASMUS+, EuropeAid, Research Promotion Foundation, United Nations Development Program, and other public and private agencies, of a total value of more than 60 million euros. He has been involved in more than 200 programs and initiatives on social innovation, social justice and empowerment, and vocational training, as a Team Leader and Researcher.

Demetris C. Hadjisofocli

Co-Founder and the CEO of CSI (The Center for Social Innovation).

Prior to CSI, Demetris was the Vice President for Business Development at Worldcom’s Digital Ventures Group, in the United States. At Worldcom DVG, he was responsible for business development, portfolio investment management, start-up support, mentoring, coaching and deal flow management in various high-tech, business, start-ups and life science sectors. He also worked with organizations such as The Ohio Supercomputer Center, UUNET Technologies, Inc., AOL, Inc., MCI Telecommunications, Inc. and Innovade, Ltd. all of them pioneers in developing and adapting new ICT technologies to social science projects. His expertise evolves around innovation, entrepreneurship, start-ups, operational efficiencies, project planning and management, training and organizational collaboration. He is an innovator, serial entrepreneur and a mentor/coach for youth at various business idea development competitions, schools and youth groups. He raised awareness, drove the initiative, trained educators and had the leading role in the introduction of Entrepreneurship Education in K-12 schools and later in the adoption of the Junior Achievement program by the Ministry of Education in Cyprus.  He led an effort, and is a proponent, for the development of strong and substantive links between Businesses and Academia, through the creation and management of a Liaison Office between academic institutions and businesses in Cyprus. He was also the Managing Director and co-founder of Helix Business Incubator, the first business accelerator in Cyprus with a focus to invest, coach and mentor new start-ups in the areas of ICT and Life Sciences. He teaches at various venues the subjects of Entrepreneurship Skills, Intellectual Property Rights, Start-up Development and Business Rationalization and taught at The Ohio State University, Fisher Business School and the University of Nicosia. He holds a BSBA in Marketing and International Business, an MBA in Strategic Planning and Sales Management both from The Ohio State University, an LLM from the University of Salford in Intellectual Property Rights and Commerce and post graduate certificates in Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies from Harvard University and Creativity as Competitive Edge from Northwestern University.

Alessia Di Gregorio

Deputy Head Of Unit, ‘Proximity, Social Economy And Creative Industries’, DG Grow at The European Commission.

Anna Athanasopoulou

Head of Unit, ‘Proximity, Social Economy and Creative Industries’, at the European Commission.

An EU official since 2002, she has held different positions at services and Cabinet-level at the European Commission and the Council of the EU, relating to tourism and textiles, culture and media policy, creative industries, and external relations. Before joining the EU civil service, Anna worked as Adviser to two Ministers of Culture in Greece and as Director of Programme Planning for the Athens 2004 Cultural Olympiad. In parallel, she lectured on History of Art and Cultural Management. Anna studied Archaeology (University of Thessaloniki), specialised in History of Art, where she holds an M.A. (George Washington University) and a Ph.D (Courtauld Institute of Art), and is the author of publications on History of Art and cultural policy.