Spatial Data for Biodiversity Hackathon


Akoesticum, Ede, The Netherlands

Soufiane El Khinifri, an environmental engineer, is driven by making a positive impact. He has joined the AMS Startup Booster program as a mentor, aiming to guide early-stage start-ups from conception to successful businesses. Soufiane’s previous experience as a co-founder of Spatialise, a soil carbon MRV (Measurement, Reporting, and Verification) company, has equipped him with the necessary skills to help ambitious entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls. Although his first start-up, SunShare, did not achieve success, he gained valuable insights into the importance of teamwork, networking, and establishing a track record and traction. Following this, he worked at Sungevity (acquired by Engie) and VanderSat (acquired by Planet), further enhancing his expertise.

In addition to his involvement in the start-up ecosystem, Soufiane has an extensive background in the humanitarian field. He has served as a disaster risk reduction expert in Morocco, a research assistant utilising satellite data for flood early warning systems in Mali, and a flood engineer for UNHCR in Sudan. During his time with UNHCR, he successfully implemented flood prevention measures for two large refugee camps. Soufiane embarked on his career while studying at Rotterdam and Wageningen, and he held junior positions at CGI Inc and RoyalHaskoningDHV. These experiences solidified his belief that to bring about the change one desires in the world, they must take the initiative to create it themselves.

Annalisa Donati is currently holding the position of Secretary General of Eurisy, the European association of space agencies striving to bridge the gap between space and society. As Research Fellow at the European Space Policy Institute she was responsible for the studies on space economy, finance and innovation’s domains as well as the monthly sector watch. Before joining ESPI she was a Young Graduate Trainee within the Industrial Policy and SMEs Division of the European Space Agency (ESA) where she worked on the design, development, and implementation of innovation programmes to boost European space entrepreneurial ecosystem. Previously she contributed to the activities carried out within the office of the director at the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). Annalisa holds a M.S. in Diplomatic Studies from the SIOI and in Multilateral Security from the University of Perugia.

Kathelijne Beenen is an advisor satellite applications at the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) where she promotes the use of satellite data. She does this by starting innovation projects with various (governmental) organisations, advising various government projects in the field of satellite data and creating awareness how satellite data can help them. Kathelijne is the national contact point for ESA InCubed and ESA BASS program for the Netherlands. Furthermore, she informs both the general public and specific target groups about space and the possibilities of satellite data. Currently, she works on the innovation projects about biodiversity at NSO.

Jene van der Heide is a programme director of strategic programs at WUR, since 2021. His challenge is to enable and navigate innovations in data-driven and high tech technologies – including AI – for application in the research domains of WUR. He chairs the Wageningen Modeling Group and is part of the AI Taskforce at WUR. Jene is trained as a spatial planner at Radboud University Nijmegen and was introduced in the world of spatial data and GIS in the 90’s. Since then, spatial data is a common thread in his career. Previous he worked on senior positions for Arcadis, RIGD-LOXIA, Dutch Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency, Geonovum, the Municipality of Arnhem and had his own consultancy firm in information management in disaster management and public safety. Jene is driven by better understanding the world with data and making the world healthier, more inclusive and more beautiful with data. He believes in the power of transdisciplinary collaboration and this hackathon is exactly that.