Panellists
Taurimas Valys, Member of Vilnius City Council, Chamber of Commerce & Regional Development Council
Thomas McHugh, Director of Public Affairs at City of Cork Chamber
Rita Okcuoglu, representing Mastercard's City Possible
Dr. Long Pham, AI4EU Community Manager at Insight Centre for Data Analytics, UCC
Moderated by Alex Irwin-Hunt Global Markets Editor and co-host of Rising Ecosystems Podcast at fDi Intelligence

Urban tech is an integral part of city life and even more technology has come to the forefront to ‘help’ our everyday lives since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, but you don’t choose to move to / invest in a city only for the tech. The human element is still the most important with many other factors to consider. We will discuss how it is possible to reinforce a sense of community by tackling urbanisation challenges.
What are the challenges and how have these changed since COVID arrived?
What can be done by cities, businesses, academics and citizens in order to tackle these challenges?
How do we ensure an inclusive strategy in order to be forward thinking, yet not leave any citizens, particularly the youngest and oldest?
It has been mentioned in previous webinars that we already have a great amount of tech and AI capability that is not used. How do we harness its potential and make it useful for every citizen?
Without the sense of community and collaboration we cannot begin to rebuild our economies effectively. What technologies can be used to further advance recovery in a shorter time frame?

Taurimas Valys, Member of Vilnius City Council, Chamber of Commerce & Regional Development Council

Taurimas Valys is a member of Vilnius City Council as well as the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Crafts Council and Vilnius Region Development Council. He is also Associate Professor in Finance at Vilnius University Business School.

Since 2020 he has held the following positions within the city council: Head of Political Group; Member of Economic & Financial Committee; Member of Control Committee; Member of Privatization Commission; Member of Strategic Planning Commission.

Taurimas is an International Team Leader with 15+ years experience in advisory, business management & investment projects (main sectors: Financial, Real estate, Infrastructure, Utilities, Energy, IT, Innovation, EdTech, FinTech, Blockchain, agro-based goods / commodities).

He is also: National Business Development Director for Lithuania Agro Space Digital Innovation Hub, a non-profit regional focus network; lead auditor and co-founder of the European Underground Laboratories Association, a registered non-profit association to promote science, research, technical development, innovation, education, and various events; as well as Project Country Manager, Team Leader of Business Analysis and Steering Committee Member until September 2020 for The Baltic Sea Underground Innovation Network (BSUIN). 

Vilnius is the Lithuanian capital and is the fastest growing city in the region: in the last three years, the population in the capital has grown by 2.7%. In addition, Vilnius is the second-youngest city (after Copenhagen) in Nordic European countries. According to the balance of work and life in the city, Vilnius falls into the top ten of European cities (ahead of Brussels and Munich). In the Central and Eastern European service centres awards in Warsaw, Vilnius was chosen as the most developing city of service centres in the region. It is considered to be the financial centre of the Baltic States – there are more than 150 fintech companies operating there. The city even won 7 awards in the elections of European cities most attractive for foreign investments, as announced by the magazine published by fDi Intelligence, an investment experts branch of Financial Times, and was listed amongst the top three cities of the future.

Thomas McHugh, Director of Public Affairs at City of Cork Chamber

Thomas is the Director of Public Affairs at Cork Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is the leading regional Irish advocacy group and works to progress the agenda of the Cork business community through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Cork Chamber holds the title of Chamber’s Ireland Chamber of the Year 2020 and has won numerous awards for it’s advocacy activity. Prior to joining the Chamber, Thomas was involved in the delivery of the largest and most impactful renewable energy projects in the world. Thomas has a BSc Government, and Master in Planning and Sustainable Development from University College Cork.

Cork is Ireland’s fastest growing City Region, and the second largest City in the country. It hold a strategic position in the National Planning Framework which is supported by the national capital expenditure programme known as the National Development Plan. With an intense clustering of FDi businesses directly employing over 43,000 people, large indigenous producers, two universities, port and airport, unrivalled coastline and natural environment, Cork is a place to live, invest, study, work or visit. When you come to Cork, you will experience a place full of energy, ambition, determination and enterprise. For further insights see We are Cork & Connecting Cork

Rita Okcuoglu, representing Mastercard’s City Possible

Working with city and industry partners, Rita brings Mastercard’s global network, data analytics, products and solutions to bear along with those of our partners in order to help cities address the challenges they face in a sustainable and inclusive way.
Rita has been with Mastercard more than 15 years and has held a number of Sales, Country
Management and BD positions covering different geographies.
Currently, she leads “City Possible” network partnerships for Europe and MEA Regions in Mastercard.
Rita currently lives in Brussels, Belgium where Mastercard European HQ is located.

Pioneered by Mastercard, City Possible is a new model of public-private partnerships that brings together a united private sector to work with cities and communities to solve system-wide challenges. By co-developing, piloting and scaling solutions, it strengthens the new triple bottom line: people, cities and businesses.

City Possible aims to build a path towards a sustainable urban future focused on the needs and dreams of people. Its operating model consists of three interconnected engines that support one another to foster collaboration and co-creation on a global scale: global network; urban co-creation; and scale co-created solutions.

Dr. Long Pham, AI4EU Community Manager at Insight Centre for Data Analytics, UCC

Dr. Long Pham joined University College Cork (UCC) as the AI4EU Community Manager at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics. Prior to Insight, Long was a business development manager for University College Cork, Ireland, in ASEAN markets, where she worked with governments, universities, industries and education services for UCC internationalization strategies. Long moved to the business role from being a researcher of the International Energy Research Centre at the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, for four years since 2014.
Long was an executive at IBM’s Governmental Programs for over five years and worked closely with Vietnamese and American governments on technology and free trade policies at all stages. She is also well connected to city and provincial leaders when she oversaw IBM’s Smarter Planet agenda and Smarter Cities cooperation programs in Vietnam, California in the US with a focus on major cities including Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang, Ha Noi, and Fresno (CA, USA).

Prior to joining IBM, Long was a career journalist and Managing Editor for the Viet Nam News, a daily English newspaper of the Vietnam News Agency where she oversaw the various publication channels.

In addition to policy advisory work and research, Long is a recent PhD graduate whose dissertation focused on resident engagement for smart city programs, local policy development, and regulation for technology adoption to promote smart and sustainable city development.

The Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics is one of Europe’s largest data analytics research organisations, with over 450 researchers, more than 80 industry partners and €100+ million in funding. Our research spans Health and Human Performance, Enterprise and Services, Smart Communities and IoT, Sustainability and Operations. Insight is made up of four host institutions at DCU, NUI Galway, UCC and UCD. Insight’s partner sites are Maynooth University, TCD, Tyndall and UL.

Key areas of priority research include: The Semantic Web, Sensors and the Sensor Web, Social network analysis, Decision Support and Optimization Connected Health. Insight has a critical mass of research competence and is an international beacon for the science and application of Big Data Analytics. The Insight Centre is designed to provide a national ICT research platform for Ireland based on world-class targeted research programmes. The centre opened on July 1st 2013 and has received funding in excess of €88m, from SFI and Industry sources, for research programmes.