The Royal Academy of Engineering today announced that Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Surrey, will host the inaugural Global Grand Challenges Summit, in London on 12 and 13 March.

Professor Al Khalili is a well known science communicator and broadcaster, presenting TV programmes including BBC2’s Horizon and BBC Radio 4’s The Life Scientific.

The Global Grand Challenges Summit is led by the Royal Academy of Engineering in collaboration with its counterparts, the US National Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Speakers include Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, entrepreneur and inventor of the Segway Dean Kamen, pioneering geneticist Dr Craig Venter and Dr Regina E. Dugan, former director of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

They will be joined by over 450 current and future leaders from industry, academia, and governments from around the world who 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 national academies are organising this unique event 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 be webcast to viewers around the world [] and supported with special events at hub sites in Birmingham and Bangalore. Those attending these hubs and watching online will be able to see all the speakers at the summit and participate in the sessions, making for truly global participation in the event.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili said “What particularly fascinates me about the Global Grand Challenges Summit is not just the calibre of the participants coming to London to speak, but the mix of talents: engineers, scientists, academics and policy makers. This should create some extraordinary discussions but also reflects the very real fact that these constituencies have to come together if we are to address the world’s most pressing challenges in meaningful ways.”

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 and Bangalore. See 

    Keep up to date with developments via twitter @GGCSLondon and #GGCS2013
  2. 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).
  3. 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 Council
    - Dr 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
    - Dr Zhang Jianyun, President, Secretary-General of NHRI Committee of CPC, Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering
    - 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 Clayton Daniel Mote, University of Maryland
    - Sir John Parker, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering
    - 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
    - Dr Jian Song, Honorary Chairman of the Governing Board of Chinese Academy of Engineering
    - 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 Li Yingtao, Huawei
    - Dr Qimin Zhan, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Medial Sciences
    - Dr Jianyun Zhang, President, Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).

    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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Jules Tipler at Mettle PR
Tel. +44 (0) 7811 166 796; email: Jules Tipler