2019 Mission Innovation Champions

Championing the clean energy revolution: A program for recognizing and supporting the next wave of energy technology leaders


I am delighted to congratulate our 19 Mission Innovation Champions from across the globe — these inspiring innovators represent the researchers and leaders of the clean energy transition. It is through recognizing promising ideas and talent like theirs that we will succeed in accelerating the clean energy revolution and strive towards a sustainable future.

Carlos Moedas
Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation
European Commission


The Mission Innovation Champions Program seeks to celebrate and support innovative individuals who are accelerating the clean energy revolution by working on key clean energy research and technology developments. By supporting cross-border exchanges of ideas and talent and building a community of visionaries committed to the promise of clean energy research and development, the program activates and engages a new generation of researchers, inventors and leaders.

The 19 Champions listed below work in a variety of energy-related fields and industries. They are individuals with a track record of progressing creative new ideas that can drive the pace and scale of the clean energy revolution — they are the people inventing the products and services of the future or discovering the science that underpins them. The Champions were selected through a rigorous international competition, including peer-to-peer reviews and evaluations by a diverse panel of experts from around the globe. Applications were evaluated based on the audaciousness and creativity of the ideas or solutions proposed, their potential impact and the vision of the candidates towards addressing climate change challenges in the energy sector through innovation.

For more information, please visit the MI Champions website or read the press release announcing the Champions.


Glenn Platt — Australia

Research Director and Leader, Newcastle Energy Centre
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

Dr. Glenn Platt currently leads the Energy Transformed Flagship research centre at CSIRO (Australia’s national science agency and research organization). His research looks specifically at energy efficiency, in the areas of solar cooling, smart grid control technologies and zero/low emission residential and commercial buildings. He previously held the position of research engineer at Nokia in Denmark. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in electrical engineering, a PhD in electrical engineering, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Newcastle.

“The Mission Innovation Champions program offers a unique opportunity to share broadly the amazing opportunities clean technology offers across a diverse audience.”

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Christian Holter — Austria

CEO, Society for Solar Installation and Design (S.O.L.I.D)

Dr. Christian Holter is Founder and Managing Director at S.O.L.I.D, a solar engineering company specializing in all aspects of large-scale solar thermal energy plants. He is also the Co-Founder of two companies focused on solar cooling and solar district heating systems. He is responsible for the development and implementation of many different solar projects. Christian Holter also works as a consultant for UNIDO in the Sustainable Energy Development project for the Caribbean states on solar cooling.

“Our projects include key technologies for an overall decarbonisation of the heating and cooling sector and the recognition of being a Mission Innovation Champion will help put focus and attention on this essential work.”

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Sean Monkman — Canada

Senior Vice President of Technology Development, CarbonCure

Sean Monkman is the Vice President of Technology Development for CarbonCure. The CarbonCure Technology uses recycled carbon dioxide to improve the manufacturing process of concrete. CarbonCure Technology is being used to reduce concrete’s carbon footprint, create new production cost savings and gain a competitive sales advantage. Sean holds a PhD in Civil Engineering from McGill University. His past work has spanned various concrete-related topics, including the chemistry of cement hydration and cement and slag carbonation. Sean’s expertise also lies in quantifying carbon emissions associated with cement and concrete.

“Recognition as a Mission Innovation Champion is strong validation of not only our environmental achievements, but also of the enormous potential ahead.”

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Ping Chen — China

Professor and Division Head of Hydrogen Energy and Advanced Materials
Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP), Chinese Academy of Sciences

Ping Chen is a professor and division head of Hydrogen Energy and Advanced Materials at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Chen received BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in Chemistry in 1991, 1994 and 1997, respectively, from Xiamen University. Her primary research interests include hydrogen storage and heterogeneous catalysis. She has over 140 peer-reviewed journal articles and 36 patents. She is a member of the International Advisory board of International Association for Hydrogen Energy (IAHE).

“Mission Innovation Champions is a token showing the appreciation from our society to the endeavor of researchers in advancing clean energy technology.”

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Tejs Vegge — Denmark

Professor and Head of Section for Atomic Scale Modelling and Materials
Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Tejs Vegge is Professor and Head of Section for Atomic Scale Modelling and Materials, Technical University of Denmark (DTU). His main research areas include integrated computational and experimental design and characterization of novel materials for energy storage, conversion and next-generation battery materials. While currently participating in three EU H2020 battery projects under Future Emerging Technologies, Dr. Vegge also leads a new initiative on autonomous materials discovery (www.AiMADE.org), developing a common data-infrastructure for AI-based materials discovery.

“Mission Innovation has established a unique framework for collaboration between academia, industry, funding organisations, and decision makers around the world.”

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Álvaro Beltrán — European Commission (on behalf of the European Union)

Founder and CEO, Onyx Solar Energy

Álvaro Beltrán is the founder and CEO of Onyx Solar, which produces the first transparent solar PV glass for buildings – a glass generating electricity that has the same price as alternative building materials. Onyx Solar is the most awarded PV company of the world with more than 50 international awards. The company has taken part in large-scale projects for leading companies and institutions such as the Department of State in the US, Apple, Samsung, or Coca-Cola. Onyx Solar has been involved in eight H2020 projects and four FP7, and was chosen as one of the projects to be included in the “Call for Investors” publication of 2018 which seeks to connect innovative EU-funded projects with investors.

“My goal is that every company or individual is able to generate clean and free energy from the sun. As a Mission Innovation Champion, I am one step closer to achieving this goal.”

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Pasi Vainikka — Finland

CEO of Solar Foods

Pasi Vainikka is the Co-Founder and CEO of Solar Foods. Solar Foods has invented Solein, a natural protein source. The Solein bioprocess produces natural protein from CO2, water, and electricity. It’s a fully natural fermentation process, environmental friendly, with an end product that looks and tastes just like wheat flour. Before becoming CEO, he led a strategic initiative called Neo-Carbon Energy, the largest renewable energy research group in Finland. Spin-off projects from that initiative include Soletair, a pilot plant producing fuel from air, Neo-Carbon-Food concept for producing healthy protein from air – now commercialised by Solar Foods – as well as the world’s first simulation of global 100% renewable electricity through a system named the “Internet of Energy”.

“I will continue a science-based discussion about the amazing opportunities technology and the future hold. The Champions programme provides a new international platform to share this vision.”

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Didier Bouix — France

Research Engineer, Innovation Laboratory for New energy technologies and nanomaterials (LiTen)
French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA)

Didier is an engineer at the Innovation Laboratory for New energy technologies and nanomaterials (LiTen) of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). He previously worked on the design of the Energy Observer, the world’s first hydrogen vessel with zero greenhouse gas emissions. The vessel is powered by electric propulsion thanks to a mix of renewable energies and a hydrogen production system that produces carbon-free hydrogen on board using seawater. The Energy Observer is being used as a floating laboratory to test a variety of clean energy technologies and also serves as a media platform raising awareness about the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“The recognition of being a Mission Innovation Champion allows me to initiate new projects and collaborations with other engineers interested in new technologies in renewable energy.”

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Korbinian S. Kramer — Germany

Head of the TestLab Solar Thermal Systems, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE)

Dr. Korbinian Kramer is Head of the TestLab Solar Thermal Systems at Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg. He studied Mechanical Engineering with specialties in Environment and Process Technology in Augsburg. Korbinian leads a working group on testing, quality assurance and technical characterization of heating and cooling technologies at Fraunhofer ISE and is a lecturer at the University of Freiburg. His research interests include renewable energy management, system and process engineering.

“The greatest challenge of the energy transition is interdisciplinarity and the resulting complexity of finding solutions. Mission Innovation can help promote trust and collaboration.”

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Santi Pada Gon Chaudhuri — India

Visiting Professor, Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology, Shibpur

Santi Pada Gon Chaudhuri is a Strategic Advisor at Vikram Solar. Mr. Chaudhuri plays a vital role in Vikram Solar’s R&D and various technological innovations. Mr. Chaudhuri works for the Government of India as a National Level Monitor of Renewable Energy Programme. He has 28 years of experience in the field of Renewable Energy and worked for more than 17 years as the Head of the Renewable Energy Department for the Government of West Bengal. India’s first off-grid solar power plant with mini grid was designed and set up by Mr. Chaudhuri.

“I believe in the potential of renewable energy in heating, cooling, drinking water, and rural transport. As a Mission Innovation Champion, I will lead innovators and initiate a nationwide programme.”

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Lorenzo Mario Fagiano — Italy

Associate Professor of Control Systems, Politecnico di Milano

Lorenzo Fagiano is an Associate Professor at the Politecnico di Milano. He holds a Ph.D. in Information and System Engineering and his research interests include analysis and systems control with applications for wind energy generation, vehicles and power grids.

“I will use the recoginition as a Mission Innovation Champion to support technical/engineering research and promotion of the clean energy field for political support at regional, national, and international levels.”

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Yutaka Tamaura — Japan

Professor Emeritus, Tokyo Institute of Technology

Dr. Tamaura is a Professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. His research interests include solar thermochemical energy conversion, solar concentration system, solar hybrid fuel production using concentrated solar energy and solar hydrogen production.

“As a Mission Innovation Champion, I will work to bring people together from differeent sectors and promote collaboration across renewable energy projects.”

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Jorge Arturo Aburto Anell — Mexico

Project leader and head of the Biomass Conversion Division, Mexican Petroleum Institute (IMP)

Dr. Jorge Aburto is a National Researcher and has been a research chemist at the Mexican Petroleum Institute (IMP) since 2000. He is currently project leader and head of the Biomass Conversion Division. Arturo’s main research areas are bioproducts for applications in the petroleum industry, biomass deconstruction and conversion, and petroleum biorefining.

“My vision is to aid universities, research centers, companies, government, and society to undertake the energy transition, aligned with Mission Innovation goals.”

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Arno Smets — The Netherlands

Professor in Solar Energy in the Photovoltaics Material and Devices group at Delft University of Technology

Dr. Arno Smets is a Professor in Solar Energy in the Photovoltaics Material and Devices group at Delft University of Technology. He previously worked at the Research Center for Photovoltaics at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan. His research is focused on processing of thin silicon films, innovative materials and new concepts for photovoltaic applications.

“I believe that we can make big steps in connecting the world and inspiring talents using online education. Mission Innovation will be a valuable inspiration to people around the world to make a sustainable change.”

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John Olav Tande — Norway

Chief Scientist and Research Manager, SINTEF Energy AS

John Olav Tande is Chief Scientist and Director at the Norwegian Research Centre for Offshore Wind Technology (NOWITECH). NOWITECH is an international research cooperation on offshore wind technology contributing to large scale deployment of deep sea offshore wind turbines.

“My mission is to bring forward research that contributes to an affordable, reliable, and sustainable supply of energy for all. As a Mission Innovation Champion, I will speak for research as an efficient vehicle for innovation.”

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Myoungju Lee — Republic of Korea

Director, Zero Energy Architecture Center, Myongji University

Myoungju Lee is a Professor at the College of Architecture at Myongji University. She is also the Director of the Zero Energy Architecture Center at Myongji University. Her work has focused on high efficiency building design, and architecture and she has successfully launched the Zero Energy House in South Korea.

“As a Mission Innovation Champion, I will introduce the importance of developing individual technologies globally and become an architect who works with experts in various fields from all over the world to build a zero energy.”



Hussam Khonkar — Saudi Arabia

Researcher, National Center for Solar Energy Technology, Energy Research Institute
King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology

Hussam Khonkar is a researcher and faculty member at the Energy Research Institute of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. His focus in solar R&D, including PV micro-inverters, solar stills for water distillation and solar for cooling.

“Recycling solar panels is a significant ways to make the world greener. Mission Innovation will help me improve this process and leave the world healthier and better for the next generation.”

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Jonas Eklind — Sweden

CEO and President, Azelio AB

Jonas Elkind is CEO and President at Azelio AB, a supplier of sustainable energy solutions based on the Stirling engine integrated with an innovative thermal storage system. The company focuses on offering low-cost on-demand distributed and dispatchable solar electricity all hours of the day, at a low cost.

“Being named a Mission Innovation Champion will strengthen my position as a transition leader and I will use the recognition to inspire others to change the world. ”

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Mohamed Shawky El Moursi — United Arab Emirates

Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology

Mohamed El Moursi is currently an Associate Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. His research interests include power system, power electronics, HVDC Systems, microgrid operation and control, and renewable energy (Wind and PV) integration and interconnections.

“This prestigious recognition will bring value to my research and innovations on renewable energy systems and the smart grid. As a Champion, I will partner with others to test and implement my projects.”

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