The Royal Academy of Engineering today (17 January) announced that genomics pioneer Dr Craig Venter, Harvard University’s global development authority Professor Calestous Juma HonFREng FRS, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, FIRST founder Dean Kamen, Arup’s Director of International Development Jo da Silva OBE FREng and Autonomy founder Dr Mike Lynch OBE FREng and EPSRC Chair Dr Paul Golby CBE FREng will be joining the line-up of international figures speaking at the inaugural Global Grand Challenges Summit, in London on 12 -13th March.

This unprecedented event is being staged by the Royal Academy of Engineering in collaboration with its counterparts, the US National Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Speakers already announced include Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Professor John Hennessy, President of Stanford University and Dr Regina E. Dugan, former director of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Some 400 current and future leaders from academia, industry and governments from around the world will convene in London with the goal of exploring radical new ways of improving global sustainability, resilience, health, education, economic growth, and overall quality of life.

The three academies are organising this summit in partnership with Lockheed Martin, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), and the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The event was inspired by the US National Academy of Engineering’s 2008 report “Grand Challenges for the 21st Century,” which was produced by an international panel of leading scientists and engineers (

The event will take place at the IET and will also be broadcast at hub sites in Birmingham, Glasgow and Bangalore. Those attending the IET hubs will be able to watch all the speakers at the Summit and participate in the Q&A sessions, making for truly global participation in the event.

Professor Calestous Juma HonFREng FRS, Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School, says “The conference is a landmark opportunity to forge new global partnerships on how to leverage the power of engineering to help solve the world's most pressing challenges. Above all, the future will be moulded by young engineers. Their role should be a key theme throughout the conference.”

Sir William Wakeham FREng, Senior Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says “It is time to think differently about engineering. Engineering innovation is a key factor in restoring global growth. Engineers are constantly looking for new ways both to use existing technologies and to apply radical thinking – this is the how the human race will address the formidable problems of providing energy and water, food and shelter for all. I look forward to some radical thinking from international participants at this unique summit.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Global Grand Challenges Summit will take place on 12 and 13 March 2013 at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2 Savoy Place, London.
    Further information on the event and the latest programme is available:
    GGCS Programme (5.42 MB)
    Registration is now closed, but the event will be streamed live online and places remain available at the two hub events in Birmingham, Glasgow and Bangalore. See

    Keep up to date with developments via twitter @RAEngNews and #GGCS2013
  2. As part of the lead-up to the Summit, a short film competition for 18 – 27 year olds was launched in December. Creative entrants are called to produce a two minute film highlighting the importance of engineering in tackling a global grand challenge.
  3. On 11 March, the Royal Academy of Engineering will be hosting a student day, supported by Microsoft, for students attending the main Summit. More details will be available soon.
  4. The summit is the first of a series of global summits resulting from collaboration between the Royal Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Engineering in the US, and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. The academies are organising this event in partnership with Lockheed Martin, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
  5. Speakers include:
    - Professor Frances Arnold, Professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology.
    - Eric Brown, Research Scientist, Watson Technologies, IBM
    - Professor Angela Belcher, Professor of Energy in Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering, MIT
    - Allard Castelein, Vice President Environment, Shell
    - Dr Margaret Anne Craig, CEO, Clyde Biosciences
    - Lord Darzi HonFREng is a leading surgeon at Imperial College London and was appointed a Business Ambassador in the UK by Prime Minister David Cameron.
    - Jo da Silva, Director of International Development, Arup
    - Professor Dame Ann Dowling FREng FRS is a mechanical engineer specialising in combustion, acoustics and vibration and is Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge.
    - Dr Regina E. Dugan was the first female Director of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and is now Senior Vice president of Motorola Mobility, where she is charged with building and leading the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group.
    - Bran Ferren, Chief Creative Officer, Applied minds
    - Bill Gates, Co-Founder and Chairman of Microsoft and Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will speak by satellite.
    - Professor Neil Gershenfeld, Director, Centre for Bits and Atoms, MIT
    - Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Design Fellow on Synthetic Aesthetics, Stanford University and University of Edinburgh
    - Dr Paul Golby, Chair, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research CouncilDr Saul Griffiths, Founder / Principal Scientist, Other Lab
    - Professor John Hennessy is a computer scientist and President of Stanford University as well as a board member of several companies including Google and Cisco Systems.
    - Professor Andy Hopper, President, IET and Head of the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge
    - Professor Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development, Harvard Kennedy School
    - Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST
    Dr Robert Langer FREng is the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is regarded as a pioneer in the field of bioengineering and is responsible for ground-breaking innovations in drug delivery systems and tissue engineering.
    - Dr Mike Lynch, Co-founder, Autonomy
    - Professor Robert Mair, Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Cambridge
    - Robert Matheson, Principal, STEM Early College High School
    -Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Director, Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technology
    - Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University
    - Andrew Simms, Fellow, New Economics Foundation
    - Professor Helen Storey, Co-founder, Catalytic Clothing
    - Dr Craig Venter, Founder of the J. Craig Venter Institute
    - Professor Chris Wise FREng, Structural Engineer and Co-Founder of Expedition Engineering, has been involved with iconic projects including the 2012 Olympic Velodrome and Millennium Bridge.
    - Dr Jianyun Zhang, President, Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute

    The Academies will announce more speakers in the coming months.
  6. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  7. Founded in 1964, the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.
  8. The Chinese Academy of Engineering is the Chinese national academy of engineering and technological sciences. Its missions are to initiate and conduct strategic studies, to provide consultancy services for decision-making on key national engineering and technological sciences issues, and to promote the development of engineering and technological sciences in China for the benefit and welfare of society.
  9. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK (RCUK).
  10. Founded 140 years ago, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is one of the world’s leading professional societies for the engineering and technology community. The IET has more than 150,000 members in 127 countries, with active networks of members in 37 countries. To support its worldwide membership it has offices in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. IET activities include encouraging the study of engineering, awards and sponsorship, promoting professional registration, establishing a global knowledge network, ensuring electrical safety and best practice, and providing policy advice to government.

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