2020 Presenters

Frank Burkert
Partner, EMEIA Leader, Global R&D and Innovation Services

With over 19 years of experience, Frank is a trusted business advisor to many enterprises and institutes across EMEIA.

As the EY EMEIA Leader for Global R&D and Innovation Services, Frank is responsible for supporting and bringing together companies, academia and research institutes to deliver powerful innovation achieved through access to funding. He has a proven track record of numerous successful innovation and investment funding projects on European and German national level. Furthermore, Frank heads the official Delivery Partnership of EY to the Green Climate Fund, providing extensive expertise in sustainability and climate finance.

Frank holds Dip in Economics from the University of Essen, Dip in Business Administration in Essen and Sydney and an LLM from the University of Strasbourg in France.


Frank Coppersmith
CEO of Smarter Reality

Frank Coppersmith is the CEO of Smarter Reality, a software development company that helps businesses build software products from ideation, through design and full-turn key development.  Frank’s background includes stints as a senior executive with venture funded startups and Fortune 500 companies.  He’s also a reservist in the USAF and has written on the impact AI will have on the practice of law.


Adriana Cruz
Executive Director, Economic Development & Tourism Office of Governor Greg Abbot

In October 2019, Adriana Cruz was appointed to lead the Governor’s Economic Development and Tourism Office. The Office markets Texas as one of the world’s premier business and travel destinations. As Executive Director, Cruz pro- vides leadership to Business and Community Development, Texas Tourism, the Texas Workforce Investment Council, Texas Music Office, and the Texas Film Commission.

In January 2020, Governor Greg Abbott appointed Cruz to the Advisory Council on Cultural Affairs, for a term set to expire on February 1, 2023. Additionally, he named her vice chair of the council. Cruz serves on numerous boards including the Texas Economic Development Corporation, the Texas Economic Development Council, and the Texas Workforce Investment Council. In addition, from 2016-2019, she served on the Texas Economic Incentives Oversight Board to review the efficiency of Texas’ incentive programs.

Cruz has more than 20 years of leadership experience in economic development, marketing, and international business. Prior to her appointment to lead the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office, Cruz was President of the Greater San Marcos Partnership, the regional economic development organization established to encourage and nurture economic growth in San Marcos, and Hays and Caldwell Counties. Previously, Cruz was the Vice President of Global Corporate Recruitment for the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

In 2016, she won the Austin Business Journal’s Profiles in Power: Central Texas Women of Influence Award. Cruz hotlds a B.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Texas at Austin, has been married for 34 years to her husband Rik, and has three grown children living in the Austin area.


Sonia Hatfield

International Trade Specialist
Department of Commerce (DOC), US
Commercial Service office, Austin

Sonia Hatfield is an International Trade Specialist for the Department of Commerce (DOC), US Commercial Service office in Austin, TX. During her time with DOC, she has also served on the China country desk in Washington D.C. and worked overseas in the U.S. Consulate in Vietnam. Prior to working in DOC she worked in international development overseas in India, Jordan, Kenya, and Israel. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Duke University.



Verena Kalkoff, PhD, MBA
Manager, WorkSpaces Texas Health CoLab

Verena Kallhoff leads Workspaces @ Texas Health CoLab, a coworking space for value-focused health innovation startups. She guides and advises numerous health care startups in the incubator, across Austin and Houston on their journey to commercialization. Verena is a mentor at the TEXVMS mentorship program and TMC Innovation.

She facilitates the interaction, communication and partnerships between entrepreneurs, clinicians, researchers and other stakeholders supporting innovation to reinvent the approach to health and health care in the United States. As part of the Texas Health CoLab initiative, Verena develops and leads programs that engage and connect entrepreneurs to build a supportive and collaborative health innovation ecosystem.

Prior to moving to Austin and joining Dell Med she served as the innovative managing director of CyBHOR, an industry/university cooperative research center sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The center focused on using the tools of computational surgery to drive improvements in the hospital operating room. In this role, Verena brought together researchers, industry members and clinicians building relationships and innovative capacity.

Verena received her doctorate in human and molecular genetics from Baylor College of Medicine and a Master of Business Administration from University of Houston, Clear Lake. Additional prior positions included senior research analyst and project leader at Integrated Health Concepts, LLC, statistical clinical Q/A analyst at Harris Health System and administrative fellow at Houston Methodist Research Institute.



Philipp Moennig
Senior Manager, Global R&D and Innovation Services

Philipp Moennig has more than eight years experience in investment advisory and procurement of public incentives for investment projects on federal, national and EU-level.

Throughout his career, he developed extensive expertise in project evaluation, development and assessment of incentives concepts. His track record includes inter alia the implementation and administration of complex projects and R&D funding for various enterprises. Philipp also professionally supported medium-sized and large organisations in negotiations with the funding authorities.

Philipp is an Attorney at Law in Germany and also holds an LL.M. in international law from the University of Denver, Colorado. Apart from his native German language, he is conversant in English and French.


Mortada Mohamed
President, World Affairs Council of Austin
Co-Chair – Texas-EU Business Summit

Mortada is the President of the World Affairs Council of Austin, and former Regional Trade Director for Europe, Africa, Middle East, for the State of Texas, Office of the Governor, Economic Development & Tourism Division, where he promoted Texas exports and foreign direct investment in these regions. This included the IT, energy, agriculture and food sectors. He is an adjunct professor of international business at several Central Texas universities and colleges. He has served as a speaker for the US Department of State International Speaker’s Program throughout North Africa and the Arabian Gulf region.  Mr. Mohamed presented in conferences both domestically and internationally, most recently at the Bahrain, Higher Education Council Symposium; “International Academy of Management and Business Symposium”, Istanbul, Turkey and the “World Investment Conference”, La Baule, France.

He is a volunteer consultant on behalf of ACDI/VOCA, funded by USAID, assisting in economic development programs in Eastern Europe, Africa and Siberia.

Mr. Mohamed serves on the University of Texas at Austin Center for European Studies Advisory Board; the Board of Governors of North America Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE); is a member of the Texas Economic Development Council and the District Export Council.

Mr. Mohamed has an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona.


Dr. Michael W. Mosser
Assistant Professor, Government
Assistant Director, Center for European Studies, University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Michael W. Mosser is an Assistant Professor of Instruction with a joint appointment in the Department of Government, the Center for European Studies, and the International Relations and Global Governance (IRG) program at the University of Texas at Austin.  Prior to UT, Dr. Mosser was a visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. He also served as Associate Director of the European Union Center of Excellence and a Fellow of the Robert S. Strauss Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, he was the initial military/education liaison for the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs Robert S. Strauss Center’s “Climate Change and African Political Stability” grant funded by the US Department of Defense’s Minerva Initiative. He served as an assistant professor at the US Army School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he taught international relations, security studies, and comparative foreign policy of Western Europe.

A southwestern Pennsylvania native, Dr. Mosser is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh (BA, Political Science and History) and the University of Wisconsin – Madison (MA and PhD, Political Science). He has published articles and book chapters on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as well as in the fields of military art and science and military sociology more generally. He is active in student events and activities on campus related to his research and teaching fields, has published op-eds in major Texas newspapers and has been a regular guest on KUT Radio’s “Texas Standard” news program.


Ben Ramirez III
Cogitare Global, LLC

Ben Ramirez III, CEO of Cogitare Global, LLC.  Cogitare Global assists the transformation of local companies into global competitors.  Ben works with organizations to identify specific business goals and implementation strategies which match their objectives.  He provides executives and their teams with the tools they need to achieve sustainable growth in a continually changing international marketplace.

Drawing upon a career in the public and private sectors, Ben has earned a reputation as a trusted advisor with expertise in strategic planning and global partner development. He has assisted numerous business expansion efforts within the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region and around the world.

Ben manages the Foreign Trade Zone of Central Texas with member companies’ annual exports totaling $250-$500 million.  He was appointed to the Texas Camino Real District Export Council by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.  He is a board member of CleanTX, the economic development and business association for clean technology.  He also is on the board of Austin Sister Cities International.  Ben is an Entrepreneur Advisor with Tech Ranch and serves as Vice President of the World Affairs Council of Austin and Executive Director of Austin’s Global Trade Center.  Ben obtained a BA in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of Michigan, and a JD from the University of Toledo.


Larry Tabash
Sr. Int‘l Trade Specialist
U.S. Dept. of Commerce
U.S. Commercial Service, Austin TX

Larry Tabash is a Senior International Trade Specialist and Middle East expert for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Austin, TX.  He has held senior positions overseas with both the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of State working on infrastructure and business development.  He worked in Egypt, Kuwait, South Africa and the UAE.  He has traveled throughout South America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe and worked extensively in those regions assisting U.S. companies with their global expansion.  A native of Washington, DC, Larry’s personal and career pursuits have taken him to over 45 countries.

Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Commerce, he worked as a senior project manager for Visa Interactive, a fintech company in Reston, VA and for Riggs National Bank in Washington, DC.  Larry also worked for AMIDEAST Inc., where he administered USAID and privately-funded training programs and worked on business development for the organization.

He has more than 25 years of experience in international business.  Larry earned both a BA in International Studies and a MA in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. 


Michael Treyger
Deputy Director
Business and Community Development

Office of the Governor of Texas

Michael Treyger serves as Deputy Director for Business and Community Development at the Office of the Governor of Texas. His team executes the Governor’s initiatives to encourage and facilitate business growth and retention in the State of Texas.

The Office of Business and Community Development implements the core economic development functions in Texas. The Office specializes in business recruitment, site selection project management, marketing, economic development finance, international trade, foreign direct investment, industry engagement, small business advocacy and entrepreneurial support, permitting, licensing and regulatory compliance. The group also includes the Office of Aerospace and Aviation and the State of Texas Mexico Office.

Treyger serves as the Texas Governor’s appointee to the Advisory Board of the Centers for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas A&M University, and various other Committees and Councils. His professional background includes banking with J.P. Morgan Chase and transportation operations management with JetBlue Airways.

Treyger holds degrees in Marketing and International Business & Trade from Florida Atlantic University and an MBA from the Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.


Additional presenters to be added shortly