History of the Program

  • Private venture formed 2015, origin in MIT program sponsored by Portugal
  • Headquartered in Kendall Square, US
    • Densest entrepreneurial square kilometer in the world
  • Seasoned team has 100+ years in helping international entities develop US footholds
    • Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investments
    • Building Global Innovators™ (EU venture competition, Portugal)
    • Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Russia)


Organizing Committee


Luis Barros, Leading Business Ventures (LBV)
University of Pennsylvania, Executive Doctorate Program

Luis Barros is the Managing Partner of Leading Business Ventures (“LBV”) and is an Executive Doctorate candidate at University of Pennsylvania. As a practitioner|scholar his work focuses on working with organizational leaders in applying innovation, venture capital, and corporate development as a way to impact on economic development, ecosystem effectiveness, and cluster proliferation.

Through its affiliated entities and partnerships, current and past affiliations and collaborations include: concurrent role as Venture Partner of Portugal Ventures’ $800M venture capital fund and appointment as Co-Director of Innovation at MIT’s Portugal Program (MPP), and their respective Acceleration Centers; Advisor to Innovation and Financing entities in Latin America and Africa, and Asia, including H3 Biomedicine (Japan’s Eisai Co. Ltd); and to USA’s SBIR Commercialization Acceleration Programs (CAP). LBV advises co’s located in Finland, Belgium, and Israel.

Prior to LBV, Luis served as the Senior VP of Investments at the Governor of Massachusetts’ $1B Life Sciences Center and Principal at Lilly Ventures, on the team that architected these initiatives, which respectively included funds with exits, equity or acquisition proceeds; and co-financing and syndication. Luis’ prior positions include IC Sciences Corp, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and executive roles in startups that were respectively acquired by TIBCO (NASDAQ:TIBX) and Microsoft (NYSE: MSFT).

Luis has degrees from MIT Sloan (MBA) and UMASS Amherst (BBA), and is a graduate Harvard Business School’s Executive Program on Board Leadership.


Christa Bleyleben, MassGlobal Partners

Christa Bleyleben is the Founder and Managing Partner of MassGlobal Partners LLC, an international strategy and tactical advisory firm, helping innovative companies to internationalize their businesses. Christa brings more than 25 years of experience in building global relationships – working in executive management roles in both the public as well as private sector. In her prior career, Christa was Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment (MOITI), and President of the Massachusetts International Trade Council (MITCI). Previously, Christa was a Managing Director at Banc of America Securities LLC, with overall responsibility to manage the bank’s relationships with the world’s top 250 financial institutions.

Christa serves on the management team of BostonLanding.US and is an advisor to ‘Global Emerging LLC’, which offers market entry and finance platforms for American and European companies wishing to enter the Greater China markets. She also is a coach and mentor to several start-up companies and closely collaborated with MIT’s entrepreneurship training ‘eTeams ‘ program, which preceded the current ‘kTeams’ program. Christa holds an MBA from the Vienna University of Economics & Business and attended executive programs at Kellogg School of Management (Chicago) & Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth (N.H.).

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José Estabil, ITH and Franklin Waverley, LLC

José Estabil is Managing Director of ITH, and Principal of Franklin Waverley, LLC. He brings 20+ years of experience in translating technology into high growth businesses with cumulative $1B market impact. He is currently developing a network of innovation centers in the US and European technology hubs on behalf of ITH, a new early stage venture fund. He held leadership roles at IBM (copper wires/industry standard), KLA-Tencor (ellipsometry/industry standard), Schlumberger (Acq. AMAT), and ArcticSand (Acq. Murata).

His portfolio of international entrepreneurial activities includes projects in Mexico (IADB), Cuba (Miami Dade College), Portugal (MIT), Italy (TT Ventures), and Japan (Schlumberger: ACQ Applied Materials). José was part of the MIT team that established the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology -‐a graduate school the size of Cal Tech-‐in Moscow, Russia, where he became Dean of International Research. Jose volunteers extensively for organizations that create leadership opportunities, including Miami Dade College’s Idea Center Board of Advisors and Vertex Corporation External Diversity Advisory Council. José earned his Sc. B. and Sc. M. in Physics from Brown University, where he is a Trustee and is Vice Chair of Brown Corporation Governance Committee.


Jos Scheffelaar, Launch in US Alliance

Jos Scheffelaar is a European entrepreneur who moved to Boston more than 20 years ago after working in High Tech in several countries in Europe and in Asia. Building on his international skills and experience, and his extensive personal network, he co-founded Launch in US Alliance, a company helping European entrepreneurs launch their business in the U.S.

Jos is frequently invited by international organizations as guest lecturer to give his unique European perspective on American entrepreneurship and U.S. market entry for international companies. He is active in Boston’s entrepreneurial community, and acts as a judge and mentor in venture competitions. He is involved in the national programs of several European nations promoting entrepreneurship, and has been invited times to moderate panels about international collaboration at major Life Sciences conferences such as BIO 2012 and AdvaMed 2012. He holds a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University Delft in the Netherlands.


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Abigail Barrow, University of Massachusetts

Dr. Abigail Barrow is the Interim Executive Director, Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures (OTCV). She joined the UMass President’s Office in 2004 as the Founding Director of the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) which is housed in OTCV. At OTCV she supports the campus technology transfer programs as well as assisting with start-up formation and other systemwide entrepreneurship activities at UMass. She is also responsible for the overall management of the MTTC and the development of its programs. Prior to joining UMass, Dr. Barrow served as managing director of William J. von Liebig Center at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). The von Liebig Center was created in 2001 to support the commercialization of research being performed in the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering.

Dr. Barrow worked in a variety of roles at UCSD CONNECT from 1990 to 2001. At CONNECT, she developed and expanded many of its programs to support early-stage company formation and technology commercialization. The CONNECT program is internationally recognized and has been successfully replicated in many other regions around the world.

Dr. Barrow is on the board and is Chair of VentureWell (formerly the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance). Dr. Barrow received her Ph.D. from the Science Studies Unit and a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Edinburgh.