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The history and the future of entrepreneurship in quantum technology - the case of London and Washington

Venue: Online

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Quantum technology is an emerging technology in its first wave of technological development and commercialisation. In this debate, the focus is on what confluence of activity has led to the first wave in entrepreneurship in quantum technology and the reasons for that first wave. The area of exploration is in which policy initiatives should be put in place to drive a second one. This is done comparatively between the USA and the UK, with a particular attention on the quantum scene in the two capitals.


  • Professor Erran Carmel, Kogod Business School, American University
  • Saverio Romeo, Department of Management and Centre for Innovation Management Research
  • Dr Mirella Koleva, Founder of Quantopticon
  • Chair, Helen Lawton Smith
  • Discussant, Catherine Griffiths

Joining Instructions:

Please register via the link above by 5pm on Tuesday 23 February. You will be sent the link to join on the morning of the event.


Erran Carmel

Erran Carmel is a Professor at American University’s Kogod School of Business in Washington D.C. He is a former Dean and former Department Chair. He leads the school’s “Business in the Capital” initiative that conducts research on regional businesses and regional policy. He is the author of three books on globalization of tech work. He has studied and taught about many emerging technologies over the years.

Saverio Romeo

Saverio Romeo has almost 20 years experience in emerging digital technologies and their impact on public and private organizations. He has done this as a technology consultant, as an innovation policy analyst, and covering advising roles for several start-ups. The core area of Saverio’s work is the convergence of emerging digital technologies such as the IoT, AI, immersive realities, and blockchain for digital transformation in public and private organizations.

Saverio has run projects with different organizations including Xsure (blockchain and IoT), STL Partners (eUICC, IoT ecosystem, smart city), Augmented Reality Enterprise Alliance (convergence IoT-AR), IntentHQ (IoT connectivity), WoW (wearable devices and enterprises), Technopolis Group (smart city, assisted living solutions), CSIL Milano and VAA (Industry 4.0), Club Demeter (5G in agriculture), IoT Analytics (IoT platforms, 5G, smart city) and IoTNow (LPWAN and 5G). Currently, he is also Lead Expert at the Derry & Strabane Council on skills and emerging digital technologies. Finally, he runs academic research (Industrial Internet, entrepreneurship in quantum technology) and delivers modules for undergraduate and postgraduate students at Birkbeck on emerging digital technologies and digital transformation.

He holds three master’s degrees, one in Telecommunications Engineering (University of Naples “Federico II”), one in Information Technologies (“Politecnico di Milano” University - CEFRIEL) and one in Innovation Management and Technology Policy (Birkbeck – Universtiy of London).

Mirella Koleva

I obtained my MSci in Physics in 2008 and my PhD in Biophotonics in 2014 from Imperial College London. Wishing to elaborate on my multidisciplinary PhD work straddling physics and biology, I then took up a series of postdoc positions – first at the University of Oxford, then at King’s College London, building bespoke microscopes for biomedical applications. Meanwhile, I developed a strong interest in quantum technologies, and in 2017 I founded my own start-up company, Quantopticon, together with respected quantum theoretical physicist, Dr Gaby Slavcheva. Since November 2019 I have dedicated myself fully to the company, acting as CEO. At Quantopticon we develop software for quantum photonics modelling, called Quantillion; it is the world’s first state-of-the-art simulation engine that can accurately predict the behaviour of, and then optimise, quantum-optical components in a fraction of the time compared to currently accepted methods.

Catherine Griffiths

Catherine Griffiths is Research Manager for the School of Business, Economics and Informatics at Birkbeck. She has a background in establishing and expanding multi-disciplinary research centres, and has written business plans for multi-million pound investment in startup companies. Holding both academic posts and postgraduate supervisor roles, she also has experience of teaching and shaping leading edge research in areas as diverse as technology, railways, management strategy and data analytics.

Catherine represents Birkbeck’s involvement in the recently founded Institute of Coding and is on the MBA Advisory Board and the Committee for MathsWorld UK. She is a Senior Editor for the Journal of Information Technology and its sister journal for teaching cases, JITTC.

Helen Lawton Smith

Helen Lawton Smith is Professor of Entrepreneurship, Department of Management, Birkbeck, University of London. She is the Director of the Centre for Innovation Management Research. She is the Founder and Research Director of the Oxfordshire Economic Observatory, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University. Her current research on ‘Addressing regional inequalities in innovation opportunities for BAME and disabled groups’ is funded by the Regional Studies Association.

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