Virtual 2020

Event Date:
Start at 8:00 AM
July 25, 2020 - July 28, 2020


Speakers and Panelists

Please scroll down to see the schedule.
Please note that the talks and panel discussions will be conducted in English.

Kamran Elahian

Founder and Chairman
Global Innovation Catalyst

Fereydoun Taslimi


Nicklas Bergman

Entrepreneur & Futurist

Firouz Naderi

Scientist/ Former Director
Solar System Exploration at NASA/JPL

Shéhérazade Semsar-de Boisséson


Johann Romefort

Managing Director
Munich, Germany

Mikael Kretz

Founder & Executive Partner at QGroup
San Francisco, USA

Niclas Carlsson

Founders Alliance, Sweden

Anousheh Ansari

CEO, X-Prize

Katerina Borunska

European Commission, Brussels, Belgium (focus: EU funding)

Anjel Noorbakhsh

Ada Ventures
(focus: UK funding post-Brexit)

Mahboob Bolandi

Founder, Karafarin Canada
(focus: Canada funding opportunities)

Arman Pahlavan

Partner, Perkins Coie
Palo Alto USA

Conference Schedule

Friday, July 26th

8:00 AM - 8:05 AM
Welcoming by MC: Yasmine Berns
8:05 AM - 8:25 AM​
Fereydoun Taslimi and Kamran Elahian in Conversation

Fereydoun Taslimi, President of iBridges and Kamran Elahian, philanthropist and entrepreneur who co-founded many companies of which several became unicorns, will have a free format discussion of personal experience of going through hard times running a startup and surviving

8:25 AM - 9:10 AM
Panel 1: How to adapt your business model to the new post-COVID market realities: Challenges and Opportunities
Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on startups. Private startup funding had declined steeply, and the prospect of going back to normal any time soon seems dim. Many start-ups have had to close. Beyond innovations in the health sector, there will be a search for new solutions for conducting business, delivering goods and services differently, and innovating to strive. The panelists in this session will share their thoughts on challenges and opportunities facing startups in the wake of Covid19.
9:10 AM - 9:15 AM
Quick Break
9:15 AM - 9:35 AM
Anousheh Ansari and Firouz Naderi in Conversation
Anousheh Ansari, CEO X-Prize, and Firouz Naderi, Director of Solar System Exploration (retired) at NASA’s JPL will discuss Innovation, practical recommendations on re-inventing oneself and adjusting to changing circumstances.
9:35 AM - 10:20 AM
Panel 2: Funding your start-up during and after the crisis
It is estimated that the global economy will shrink by at least 3 percent as a result of Covid19. Therefore, governments and international organizations are pumping trillions to support their consumers, companies, small businesses, and public institutions. What kind of support can startups and innovators expect within these stimulus plans? With negative market yields and high volatility, where are private investors? Are these schemes open to immigrant/diaspora innovators/startups? How?
10:20 AM - 10:30 AM
Closing Remarks and next steps, Fereydoun Taslimi, iBridges President

Conference Location

Online - email for more information

Q&A Sessions


Hello and thanks for participating in our first iBridges conference online. We were delighted to have people engaging from Australia to California and throughout Europe & the Middle East. Thank you! During the lively conversations at the conference, our panelists did their best to respond to as many questions as possible. For those that were missed, we’ve compiled answers by theme below: Given the uncertainty around funding in these difficult times, our panelists broadly advised that start-ups looking to raise funds should:
  1. Broaden your spectrum: Plan to raise capital from multiple funding sources based on a combination of government funding, grants, angel investors, and venture capital firms.
  2. Know Your Audience: Learn about the VCs you’re targeting:
    – Their LPs: whether they are institutions, family offices, high net worth individuals.
    – LPs commitments: whether or not these LPs are able to meet the VC’s call on capital commitments to fund a start-up.
    – How have the LPs have been impacted by the volatile markets?
    – Their Reserve strategy: how much they set aside for follow-on rounds?
  3. Acknowledge the present, forecast the future:
    – Forecast based on COVID-adjusted demand and be as thoughtful and realistic as possible about your forecasts
  4. Acknowledge the present, forecast the future:
    – Best of both worlds: show how you’re taking the current situation into account. Describe best and worst-case scenarios and how you would navigate them.
    – Positivity & Precision: There is funding out there, and the process is everything you’d expect in a normal fundraising process. But everything needs to be even more precise, your data room and all your data points.

For a list of funding sources in the EU, UK, Canada and the US, click here:


We received helpful feedback from participants that sought wider interaction with each other. This a very important issue for us at iBridges and we certainly plan to maximize connections and interactions among the Iranian tech/start-up diaspora. We see it as one of our key future activities. Immediate actions include adding chat-room functionality to our next virtual gatherings. Going forward, we will work to better connect the iBridges community. Stay tuned for more on this issue in future newsletters. In the meantime, connect with the community via iBridges’ 8,100+ strong network at

Intellectual Property

Several participants sought more information on intellectual property and how best to protect their ideas and their work. Our first answer to the question is that you should not worry about ideas being stolen. Many people have ideas, it’s the implementation that matters in the innovation economy. Google was not the first company with the idea of a search engine. Infoseek, Altavista, Askjeeves, Xcite, Yahoo and several others had the same idea before. But Google made it happen! However, once your idea is realized, it is important to protect it. Although the question of intellectual property protection was not specifically featured in our conference, we will plan to cover this in a future session in the near future.

Can You Talk the Talk?

Presentation and pitch advice is a critical element to any start-up and we will organize virtual pitch sessions to help the iBridges community improve their pitching/presentation skills and introduce their work to potential VCs. We will announce a “Call for Proposals” to this end in an upcoming newsletter. More soon!


Several wrote specifically to Niklas Bergman on his ideas on strategy/tactics and on the future start-up trends (including on AI, robotics, blockchain, etc.). He responded to many of the questions right after the session. On strategy/tactics, he said the “tactical” is more about what to do right now (today, the coming week, the coming month) and “strategic” has more to do with the direction you’re heading in the longer term. If you want to read more about his recommendations, please contact him through LinkedIn. He has posted a lot of his material and guidance in his web page.


On the future of Education (Education 3.0), Kamran Elahian told us about experiential learning and referred to the website of Global Innovation Catalysts and his videos ( Kamran also told you about the online course he has put together with Stanford University. Take a look:


There are lots of requests for contacts of our speakers. We suggest you contact them via links as follows:

Videos of the Sessions

Some asked for a link to the video of the conference. Please don’t forget to subscribe to iBridges YouTube channel: Thank you again to all who participated. We hope we have been able to answer most of your questions. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us at! iBridges Board 2019-2020