Town Hall I

Town Hall I – Accelerating Technology Development to Address Climate Change: New Types of Partnerships and Funding

Accelerating Technology Development to Address Climate Change: New Types of Partnerships and Funding
Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Time: 11.10 – 12.40
Location: Jean Monnet Theatre, Main Building

Moderator: Kathryn Hautanen, Analog Devices/Ocean & Climate Innovation Accelerator

  • Dr Steffen Knodt, Head of the Center for Sustainable Ocean Business at Fraunhofer IG
  • Pol Mac Aonghusa ,  IBM
  • Simon Jordan, Head of Industrial Sensing, Cambridge Consultants
  • Donna Kocak, Fellow-Innovation Strategy Lead, L3Harris & Marine Technology Society
  • James Ives, CEO XOCEAN
  • Liam Curran, Senior Technologist, Enterprise Ireland


New, innovative, and low-cost technology is being created that might be able scale and lead to deep understanding of the mechanisms that drive climate change. This work is being conducted at large corporations, start-ups, and academia. While these technology developments are exciting, there are key gaps that can prevent these solutions from being deployed.

Designing effective prototypes is only the first stage of a very long process. It takes a lot of time and investment to transform a prototype into a commercial product. There are many ocean and climate innovations that have been left behind on a grad student’s lab bench when they graduated due to a lack of clear path to commercialization.
Innovations that address such technically and politically complex problems such as climate present unique challenges because of this complexity. In industry, new product development is driven by customer needs and business models. The decision to create a new product needs to show a clear ROI to validate the investment by the company or venture capital. In the climate space, government has been doing most of the funding, but that funding is limited, hard to access, and doesn’t come with the business mindset to ensure these innovations get to market at scale.
One possible solution to this challenge is to create industry-academic-government partnerships in which the strengths of each member can lead to larger investment and mass deployment of climate solutions. Join us as we discuss new emerging working models and how they are poised to breakthrough old constraints to accelerate worldwide impact to climate change.

Led by Analog Devices


Moderator: Kathryn Hautanen
Leads the Ocean & Climate Innovation Accelerator (OCIA)

Kathryn leads the Ocean & Climate Innovation Accelerator (OCIA) which was launched by Analog Devices in partnership with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. OCIA is a consortium of industry and academia partners focused on developing and accelerating new ocean-based climate change solutions.
Hautanen has an extensive science and engineering background combined with deep experience in innovation. With degrees in Physics, Materials Science, Nuclear Engineering, and an MBA in Design Strategy, Hautanen is a systems thinker who not only focuses on the technical issues of new products, but also ensures that both stakeholders and end users are involved during the product development journey.


Dr. Steffen Knodt
Head of the Center for Sustainable Ocean Business at Fraunhofer

Steffen Knodt is the Head of the Center for Sustainable Ocean Business at Fraunhofer and a co-author of the study “Sustainable Blue Economy – Transformation, Value and the Potential of Marine Ecosystems” (in collaboration with the FERI Cognitive Finance Institute). Dr. Knodt holds a PhD in engineering from RWTH Aachen and worked over his career for large corporates and startups. Within his recent positions Dr. Knodt focused his activities on corporate venturing and impact entrepreneurship, what lead to his own consultancy deepblue. earth. Dr. Knodt serves a member of the board in the German Association for Marine Technology GMT and in the board of the German Committee for the UN Ocean Decade of Science for Sustainable Development.


Pol Mac Aonghusa
IBM Senior Research Manager in the Accelerated Discovery

Senior Research Manager in the Accelerated Discovery (AD) team in the Dublin, Ireland Research Lab. Primary research interest in the interaction between people and technology. Accelerated Discovery is an exciting opportunity to explore this space further as we understand how to to better harness technologies to accelerated advances in discovery science. The vast volumes of data, complex modelling and simulation, coupled with advanced technology will pose interesting new challenges for human cognition. Our technical focus in Dublin includes areas such as Future Computing Platforms, Knowledge Representation and Reasoning, Generative Neural Networks, Optimisation and Control. In the past, he investigated data privacy as a challenge in how humans can share information while balancing the tradeoff between utility and risk from technology.

During his years with IBM he has contributed to several EU Horizon and FP7 funded research projects and research grants from the Wellcome Trust.  He has a PhD in Computer Science from Trinity College Dublin and MSc and BSc in Mathematical Physics from University College Dublin.


Simon Jordan
Head of Industrial Sensing, Cambridge Consultants

Simon is head of industrial sensing at Cambridge Consultants. His role is split between technical and commercial work, acting as a ‘bridge builder’ between the commercial requirements and the technical possibilities to develop effective products. Example projects include: AI / machine vision guided agriculture. Indoor location and tracking. Acoustics for materials processing and testing. Prior to joining Cambridge Consultants, Simon worked in the oil and gas industry, developing inertial navigation, motion sensing and subsea survey equipment. Chartered Engineer (CEng), PhD from the University of York.

Donna Kocak

Donna Kocak
Fellow-Innovation Strategy Lead, L3Harris & Marine Technology Society

Donna Kocak is Past President and Fellow of the Marine Technology Society (MTS) and Innovation Strategy Lead and Fellow at L3Harris Technologies. She has over 35 years of experience in the ocean engineering field, including over 80 publications and 6 patents, supporting computer vision, optics, robotics, and ocean observing system projects.
Donna earned master’s degrees in Engineering Management and Computer Science from the University of Central Florida (UCF), an MBA from the University of Florida, and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from UCF.
She co-organized the MTS/GOOS/NOAA Dialogues with Industry held from September 2022 to January 2023 and lead Dialogue 4 that focused on New Technology for the Ocean Decade – all of which will provide valuable insights for this panel session.

James _Ives

James Ives

James is the founder and CEO of XOCEAN. He is passionate about technology and a leading advocate for the sustainable management of our oceans through data. He holds an Engineering Degree, is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of Engineers Ireland


Liam Curran
Senior Technologist in Enterprise Ireland

Liam Curran is the Senior Technologist in Enterprise Ireland focused on the Marine Sector. Working with EI colleagues, he has helped to bring together relevant Irish SME’s in the Offshore Wind Industry sector into the Gael Offshore Network – a Cluster of Irish Companies with relevant products and Services for the OW sector: Offshore Wind – The Irish Advantage He is also the Co-ordinator of the Marine Ireland Industry Network – an umbrella organisation supporting Irish companies across the marine area: Marine Ireland Industry Network (

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