NRW – USA Summit

Thursday, June 20, 2024, 1:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m, followed by a get-together


Portrait© MWIKE NRW/Nils Leon Brauer

Mona Neubaur

Minister for Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy and Deputy Prime Minister of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Mona Neubaur was born on July 1, 1977 in Pöttmes, Bavaria. Since June 29, 2022, she has been Minister for Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy and Deputy Prime Minister of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. She previously worked at Naturstrom AG and in the management of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. From 2014 to 2022 she was state chairwoman of the GREENS in North Rhine-Westphalia.


Prof. Dr. David B. Audretsch, PhD

Ameritech Chair of Economic Development, and Director of the Institute of Development Strategies, Indiana University; and Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

David Audretsch is co-author of The Seven Secrets of Germany, published by Oxford University Press. He was recognized as a Clarivate Citation Laureate in 2021 and awarded the Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research by the Swedish Foundation for Entrepreneurship. In 2024 he was ranked as the leading scholar alive in the world for business and management and the sixth for economics and finance. He received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Augsburg, Jonköping University and the University of Siegen. Audretsch also was awarded the Schumpeter Prize from the University of Wuppertal. He serves as a member of the Advisory Board to the Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum the Jackstädt Centre for Entrepreneurship in Wuppertal, and the University of Siegen.


Annika Bahl

Director Government and Public Affairs, Wilo Group

Annika Bahl has been working for the Wilo Group in Dortmund for more than 10 years and, as Director of Government and Public Affairs, is responsible for political networking in the USA. As a staff unit of the Executive Board, this includes strategic communication and cooperation with political decision-makers and the public, as well as other market participants and (business) organisations. Ms Bahl is an active member of AmCham Germany, the largest bilateral business organisation in Germany, which focuses on the promotion of trade and investment relations between the USA and Germany and serves as a platform for the exchange and representation of interests of companies from both countries .

Portrait© IHK Düsseldorf/Copyright F. Gemein

Gregor Berghausen

General Manager, Chamber of Industry and Commerce Duesseldorf

Gregor Berghausen is a historian and business archivist. He began his professional career in 1994 as a research assistant at the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Wirtschaftsarchiv in Cologne. Other professional positions include Head of Vocational Training/ Examinations at the Düsseldorf Chamber of Industry and Commerce from 2002 to 2008, Head of the Training and Further Education Department at the Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce from 2008 to 2015, as well as representing the interests of the 16 NRW Chambers of Industry and Commerce as spokesperson on vocational training issues. Gregor Berghausen has been Managing Director of the Düsseldorf Chamber of Industry and Commerce since January 1, 2016.


Sabine Blankenship

Senior Policy Advisor for Biotechnology and Bioeconomy, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Sabine Blankenship is Senior Policy Advisor for Biotechnology and Bioeconomy at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Before returning to this position in Germany in 2021, she was responsible for science and technology at the German Consulate General in San Francisco for 10 years. Much of her work there involved transferring knowledge from Silicon Valley to German policy makers. The topics she was interested in often revolved around entrepreneurship, innovation, sustainability and how technology is changing society. Previously, Sabine held a DAAD postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UC San Francisco. Her research interests include the physiology of excitatory synapses, synaptic plasticity and the structure and function of neurotransmitter receptors. She holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and tourism and a PhD in neuroscience from the International Graduate School of Neuroscience at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.


Dr.-Ing. Patrick Bongartz

CEo & Co-Founder, BioThrust GmbH

Patrick Bongartz has a M. Sc. in Applied and Molecular Biotechnology and did his PhD in Chemical Process Engineering. During his PhD he developed the bubble-free aeration of bioreactors via membranes, which later led to the spin-off “BioThrust”. He further led scientific projects in the fields of: "Bio-process intensification with in-situ cell retention, membrane gassing and in-line extraction"; "Design and development as well as additive manufacturing and design of novel bioreactors and 3D membranes“ and led and worked on research projects like the "Towards an Implantable Lung" (SPP 2014) or the Bio² (in the BioSC).


Dr. Robert Brüll

Co-Gründer und Geschäftsführer, Fibrecoat GmbH

Dr. Robert Brüll has a master's degree in mechanical engineering and another master's degree in economics from RWTH Aachen University. He completed his doctorate on composite materials at RWTH in 2019 as one of the best in his field. In February 2014, he started his career at the Institute of Textile Technology at RWTH, where he headed the Technical Fibers department with a total of 30 employees in 2018. Since 2020, he has been driving the strategic and economic direction of the FibreCoat scale-up as CEO. In addition to his entrepreneurial role, he is particularly committed to the visibility and relevance of advanced materials in our industry and society.


Jay Carreiro

Commercial Consul, U.S. Consulate General Düsseldorf

Jay Carreiro assumed his duties as Commercial Consul in Düsseldorf in August 2022. He is a career diplomat and a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Prior to his arrival in Germany, he served on the Governing Board of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) as Vice President for the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS). Originally from Massachusetts, Jay holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration from Rhode Island College, and a Master of Public Administration and Juris Doctor from Rutgers University.

Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook

Executive VP at the Bertelsmann Stiftung based in Berlin, overseeing the German-American Futures Forum

She is an expert on U.S. domestic policy, transatlantic relations and security policy. Recent writing has focused the intersection of data and technology with foreign and urban policy.

Previously, she served as director and CEO of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). For over a decade prior, Cathryn served as the executive director of the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The research program, which she co-founded with the current U.S. Ambassador to China, examines the challenges to negotiation and statecraft in the 21st century, including the impact of technology on foreign policy. In addition, Cathryn directed a Harvard research program on Europe and transatlantic relations from 2018 to 2021 and led the Belfer Center’s work on contemporary India and South Asia for six years between 2011 and 2018. Before that, she served on the management board of the European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels and worked as both a consultant and senior journalist at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants in France and China. She began her career as a television journalist at CNN-International in Atlanta and London.

Michael Flügge

GPS Channel Lead Germany, Microsoft Deutschland GmbH.

Michael Flügge has more than 25 years of experience in the IT industry, first as a consultant and then in various management positions in consulting and sales. In 2017 he moved from an IT system house to Microsoft in the role of Services Sales Direktor Germany and then in 2022 became Direktor Partner Development in the Global Partner Solutions Organization (GPS) for Microsoft Germany, responsible for the SME business from the partner perspective. Michael Flügge holds an MBA from the University of Krems.


Pauline Kao

Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General Duesseldorf, covering North Rhine-Westphalia

Pauline Kao became Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Düsseldorf in August 2021, covering North Rhine-Westphalia. Prior, she served as Public Affairs Officer in Shanghai. Her diplomatic career includes roles in Tokyo, Berlin, Washington D.C., Brussels, and Beijing. She was Deputy Chief of the Economic Section in Beijing and Foreign Policy Advisor at SOCPAC in Hawaii. She was a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Federal Foreign Office. Kao holds a Master of Laws from Humboldt University and degrees from the University of Washington. Before the State Department, she practiced corporate law in Berlin and worked as a whitewater rafting guide. She is fluent in English, German, Mandarin Chinese, and has some Japanese proficiency.


Alexander Ketterl

Managing Director, Kiepe Electric GmbH

Since 2020 Alexander Ketterl is CEO of Kiepe Electric GmbH, a leading provider of innovative electrical systems and alternative drive systems for road and rail vehicles in public transport, as well as charging infrastructure. Mr. Ketterl has more than 20 years of experience in transport technology in various management positions at different international companies. His professional passion is to support transport companies holistically with sustainable and efficient mobility of the future.


Christian Kullmann

Chairman of the Board, Evonic Industries AG

Christian Kullmann has been Chairman of the Executive Board of Essen-based specialty chemicals company Evonik since 2017. Prior to that, he was appointed Chief Strategy Officer in 2014. Under his leadership, the company, which employs around 34,000 people worldwide, has strategically realigned itself and is now consistently concentrating on high-margin specialty chemicals. From 2020 to 2022, Kullmann was also President of the Association of the Chemical-Pharmaceutical Industry (VCI) and Vice President of the Federal Association of German Industries. Kullmann is chairman of the supervisory board at Borussia Dortmund and chairman of the economic advisory board at the Goethe-Institut. Prior to joining Evonic, Kullmann held various positions at Dresdner Bank in Frankfurt until 2003.


Dr. Ruth Laengner

Head of Department "Structural Change and Sustainability", Bergheim district town“

Dr. Ruth Laengner is as head of the department for structural change and sustainability also responsible for the areas of climate and environment, mobility and proprieties in the city of Bergheim. Dr. Laengner was the executive assistant to a member of the board of Forschungszentrum Jülich, before coming to Bergheim. The main emphasis of this work was on science management from the areas of particle physics, neutron science to medicine. After her dissertation in nuclear fusion, she worked as scientific employee for the grid integration of renewable energies, at Projektträger Jülich. Systemic, holistic approaches and solving problems interdisciplinary is a key aspect of the teams in her department.


Dr. Klaus-Hendrik Mester

Associate Director, NRW.BANK

Klaus-Hendrik Mester is a funding advisor of EU Funding, Foreign Trade & Investment Promotion at NRW.BANK. He supports companies wishing to realise projects abroad. His main focus is on the USA. The graduate economist has been working at NRW.BANK since 2007 and was previously a research assistant at the Institute for Settlement and Housing at the University of Münster.


Dr.-Ing. Dennis Michaelis

Founder and CEO, GEMESYS

Dr.-Ing. Dennis Michaelis: Dennis is the founder and CEO of GEMESYS, an AI hardware start-up from Bochum, which uses the human brain as a model for its chip architectures. GEMESYS aims to bring intelligence out of the data centers and into mobile devices and thus close to people. Dennis studied electrical engineering and information technology at Ruhr University Bochum and Purdue University in Indiana, USA, and completed his doctorate in the field of “bio-inspired computing”. There he studied information processing in living beings and designed electrical circuits that can perform calculations using the same mechanisms.


Petra Milesevic

Head of Unit EU Funding, Foreign Trade & Investment Promotion, NRW.BANK

Petra Milesevic has headed the EU and foreign trade promotion department at NRW.BANK since October 2020 and is the development bank's contact person for the foreign trade network partners in NRW. In this role, she is particularly responsible for consulting activities for companies on internationalization projects and coordinates NRW.BANK's membership in the EU consulting network NRW.Europa/Enterprise Europe Network. She previously worked in various positions at NRW.BANK, for example as a product developer for commercial development programs in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and as a project manager. She was also responsible for the financial processing of EU funds, e.g. for Interreg projects from previous funding periods. Ms. Milesevic began her career at WestLB in Düsseldorf.


Ulrike Mühlberg

Vice President Political Communication and Coordination, DHL Group

Ulrike Mühlberg, Vice President Political Communication and Coordination, is responsible for coordinating DHL Group's global lobbying activities in the area of Corporate Public Affairs. In her role, she brings together and coordinates the activities of the Group's political representative offices in order to successfully achieve common goals. Ulrike Mühlberg has been with DHL since 2009 and has ten years of experience working in various positions for members of the German Bundestag.


Gabriela Pantring

Vice Chairwomen, NRW.BANK

Gabriela Pantring is Deputy Chairwoman of the Managing Board of NRW.BANK, the development bank for North Rhine-Westphalia. As Chief Risk Officer, she is responsible for risk controlling, development of the development business, credit management and business support. She began her career at Sparkasse Osnabrück and was Association Auditor at Sparkassen- and Giroverband Schleswig-Holstein before working for the Group Audit department of Westdeutsche Landesbank in London. In 2002, she moved to the then newly founded NRW.BANK, where she assumed responsibility for the Audit division. She later headed the Corporate Management division and most recently the Special Promotion and Advisory division. In 2013, Pantring became a member of the Managing Board of Investitionsbank des Landes Brandenburg, where she was responsible for the Economy, Equity & Start-ups, Treasury and Banking Operations divisions before returning to NRW.BANK in 2016.


Dr. Julia Pfeil

Partner, Dentons Europe (Germany) GmbH & Co. KG

Dr. Julia Pfeil ist Partner im Frankfurter Dentons Büro. Sie ist Mitglied der Praxisgruppe Public Policy und Regulierung und konzentriert sich auf den Bereich Öffentliches Wirtschaftsrecht, und zwar insbesondere auf die Bereiche Außenwirtschaftsrecht, Exportkontrolle, Sanktionen und Embargos, sowie auf umweltrechtliche und technische Anforderungen für Unternehmen ebenso wie für Produkte. Sie verfügt über umfangreiche Erfahrung in der Beratung zu den europäischen und US-amerikanischen Sanktionen, die gegen Russland und den Iran verhängt worden sind. Frau Dr. Pfeil unterstützt ihre Mandanten außerdem bei der Entwicklung und Einführung von Compliance-Programmen sowie bei internen Untersuchungen und Prüfungen durch Behörden. Darüber hinaus berät Frau Dr. Pfeil Unternehmen zu umweltrechtlichen Fragestellungen, einschließlich umweltrechtlicher und technischer Anforderungen an Produkte, wie etwa die europäischen Regelungen zu WEEE, RoHS oder REACH/ CLP.


Julia Katrin Rohde

CEO & Co-Founder, Corbiota GmbH

Julia Rohde is CEO and co-founder of Corbiota GmbH, a spin-off of BASF. She previously held international strategy and commercial roles in start-ups and corporations. She worked for many years in the M&A sector and also co-founded the business consultancy advisoryteam. She is an economist (BA), psychologist (BSc) and biomedical engineer (Dipl. Ing.).


Christin Schack

Vice President & Managing Director Central Europe Region , 3M Deutschland GmbH

Christin Schack is VP & Managing Director of 3M since Oct 2022. Prior, leading their Safety & Industrial Business Group. From 2016 to 2018 she was responsible for 3M’s Industrial Business in the Nordic Region, living in Stockholm/ Sweden. She started as Marketing Trainee for ESPE Dental GmbH/ Seefeld in Germany in 1995. Shortly after she moved to Philadelphia/ US as Portfolio Marketer for ESPE America Inc. in 1999, ESPE was acquired by 3M. She moved to their headquarter in St. Paul/ MN in a Global Marketing role before becoming Business Development Manager for Latin America. When she moved back to Germany in 2003, she had roles of increasing responsibility in leading the Marketing & Business Development efforts for 3M’s Dental Business in EMEA as well Corporate Marketing Excellence for 3M in West Europe.
She is passionate about Diversity & Equity & Inclusion and the individual development of her people. Outside of 3M, she serves as mentor and coach for young adults coming from socially challenged backgrounds.


Ralf Schlindwein

Managing Director International Business, Chamber of Industry and Commerce Duesseldorf

Since January 2021, economist Ralf Schlindwein has been Managing Director of the International Business Division of the Düsseldorf Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK Düsseldorf). Ralf Schlindwein holds a diploma in economics from the University of Cologne and a joint Master in European Studies from the Berlin universities Freie Universität, Humboldt University and Technical University. In 2012, he began his career in the IHK organization as a trainee in the German Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) followed by different management positions at the IHK Rhine-Neckar - among them Head of the International Markets Division.


Dr. rer. nat. Nils Schrader

Managing Director, BIO.NRW

After studying Biotechnology at the TU Braunschweig and a research stay at the university hospital of Ulm, his PhD in biochemistry has been mainly conducted at SUNY and Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York, USA. Following a postdoc at the MPI in Dortmund, he joined BIO.NRW in 2009 as scientific project manager and became the network’s Managing Director in 2018. Today, BIO.NRW is the state’s official umbrella organization covering topics from pharmaceutical biotechnology to bioeconomy. Nils Schrader is member of several jurys for awards and programs of public funding and member of the board of advisors of MedLife Aachen e.V..


Dr. Daniel Stadler

Deputy cluster manager, NMWP.NRW

Daniel Stadler is deputy cluster manager of NMWP.NRW. Among other things, he deals with new computer concepts and how they can influence current markets. He is also Managing Director of EIN Quantum NRW, the NRW network for quantum technologies in North Rhine-Westphalia. Daniel received his doctorate from the University of Cologne in 2021 and lives with his family in Bedburg.


Dr. Christian Temath

Managing Director, Competence Platform KI.NRW

Dr Christian Temath has been managing director of the competence platform KI.NRW since September 2020. KI.NRW is the central contact point for artificial intelligence (AI) in North Rhine-Westphalia. At the Fraunhofer IAIS in Sankt Augustin, he and his team are working on establishing the "AI made in NRW" brand and strengthening the technological sovereignty of North Rhine-Westphalia. A PhD in Business Informatics, he has many years of experience in management consulting in the field of technology as well as in the practical application of AI technologies at an international e-commerce company.


Frank Tepper-Sawicki

Partner Corporate, M&A Dentons

Frank Tepper-Sawicki, EMBA is a partner in the Corporate department of Dentons' Düsseldorf and Munich offices. He advises German and international clients in the area of corporate law/mergers and acquisitions. He specializes in assisting national and international investors and companies in M&A transactions, corporate restructurings and reorganizations. His clients include private equity and venture capital investors as well as (multi-)national companies and emerging growth companies. The focus of his work includes advising on transactions, in particular, but not limited to, technology, intellectual property and/or regulated industries (energy). For example, he advises companies in the IT industry (including the use of artificial intelligence and technology) as well as in the biotechnology and automotive sectors and also advises portfolio companies on the implementation of innovative digital business models or in (complex) joint ventures.


Eric Wallner

Head of Business Unit North America, NRW.Global Business

Eric Wallner is Head of Business Unit North America at the state-owned foreign trade promotion agency NRW.Global Business. In this role, he coordinates the three North American NRW offices in Chicago, Silicon Valley and Atlanta, from the company's headquarters in Düsseldorf. He is also responsible for international incoming and outgoing economic activities and promoting NRW as a business location abroad. Mr. Wallner is actively involved in bringing Microsoft’s major investment to NRW. He has an academic background in international relations and political economics.