Hello, World: The Rise of Tech Diplomacy

How does Silicon Valley upend traditional forms of diplomacy?

Photograph: CC-0

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111 United States


April 13, 2018 from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


$10 (online) - $15 (at the door)

Diplomacy is no longer limited to states. Today, tech companies engage more people than any given nation, and some are responsible for decisions and impacts once limited to governments. In turn, governments are taking on new forms of diplomacy to stay at the forefront of innovation, to secure the rights of their citizens, and to warrant safe and successful future developments for their countries.

Join us to discover the various ways diplomacy has evolved in the Silicon Valley ecosystem, from tech ambassadors to dedicated innovation centers. DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform, in partnership with the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco and swissnex San Francisco, have mapped this diplomatic landscape and summarized their findings in a report that will be launched at the event. Government representatives from around the world will also pitch their models of “tech diplomacy.”


6:00pm – doors open
6:30pm – welcome
6:40pm – country pitches
7:10pm – report launch
7:20pm – panel discussion
8:20pm – networking
9:30pm – doors close


Gioia Deucher, swissnex San Francisco

Gioia Deucher is the CEO of swissnex San Francisco. Her professional journey has taken her to various countries, from Colombia and Switzerland to the U.S. and Palestine and Brazil. Gioia has dedicated the last eight years to fostering cross-continental collaborations to inspire and strengthen Switzerland’s innovation ecosystem. Before setting out to build the first Latin American swissnex office in Brazil in 2013, she headed the Startup and Innovation team at swissnex in San Francisco, where she has returned as CEO in July 2017. Gioia holds a Master’s degree in International relations from the Graduate Institute (IUHEID) in Geneva, Switzerland, and a second Master’s in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School in Medford/Boston, USA.

Jovan Kurbalija, DiploFoundation

Jovan Kurbalija, DiploFoundationJovan Kurbalija is the Founding Director of DiploFoundation and Head of the Geneva Internet Platform. He is a former diplomat with a professional and academic background in international law, diplomacy, and information technology. In 1992, he established the Unit for IT and Diplomacy at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies in Malta. In 2002, after more than ten years of successful work in training, research, and publishing, the Unit evolved into DiploFoundation. Jovan directs online learning courses on ICT and diplomacy and lectures in academic and training institutions in Switzerland, the United States, Austria, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Malta. His main areas of research are diplomacy and the development of an international Internet regime, online negotiations, and diplomatic law. He is the author of An Introduction to Internet Governance, which has been translated into eight languages and is now in its 7th edition.

Ursula Rojas Weiser, Consulate General of Mexico

Ursula Rojas Weiser, Consulate General of MexicoUrsula Rojas Weiser is Consul for Economic Affairs at the Consulate General of Mexico, where she manages the Consulate’s innovation projects and relationships with tech companies. She is a member of the Mexican Foreign Service since 2006 and currently holds the rank of 1st Secretary. She has been posted to the Consulates of Mexico in Portland, Oregon and Dallas, Texas where she developed financial literacy and entrepreneurship initiatives targeted mostly to empower Mexican immigrants. Most recently, she worked as Director for US Political Affairs at the Direction General for North America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico. Born and raised in Mexico City, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and a Master of Arts from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston.

Mikael Ekman, Denmark

Mikael Ekman As part of Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2008, Mikael Ekman works to promote Danish interests abroad and to find strong, creative solutions to the global challenges of the 21st Century. Over the last 10 years, he has worked with teams and partners in Asia, Europe and North America on many aspects of modern diplomacy. He is currently serving as Chief Advisor and Deputy to the World’s first Tech Ambassador. Based out of Silicon Valley, but with a global team and mandate, his unit strives to make digital and technological developments a key Danish foreign policy priority. Mikael holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science and Government from Aarhus University.

Ayaka Suzuki, UN (EOSG)

Ayaka SuzukiAyaka Suzuki is Director of the Strategic Planning and Monitoring Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG), United Nations, New York. One of her primary responsibilities in the EOSG to help contribute to the Secretary-General’s strategy on engagement on new technologies. Ayaka has over twenty-five years of experience in international peace and security in the areas of multilateral conflict prevention and management, peacekeeping, strengthening democratic institutions and advocacy work at international and national policy fora. She obtained a master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science magna cum laude.

Tereza Horejsova, DiploFoundation

Tereza Horejsova, DiploFoundationTereza Horejsova is from the Czech Republic and holds an MA in International Area Studies and a PhD in European Studies, both from the Charles University in Prague. Tereza has had an international career in academia and the non-governmental sector in the Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, and Switzerland. Currently based in Washington, DC, she joined DiploFoundation in 2012 and serves as the Project Development Director. From 2012 to 2016, she was based in Geneva and coordinated the activities of the Geneva Internet Platform.

Pavlina Ittelson, DiploFoundation

Pavlina IttelsonBased in Washington, DC, Pavlina Ittelson has joined DiploFoundation as a consultant in 2017 and supports its US-based activities. She is co-author of the study on how countries interact with the Internet industry in the Bay Area. Pavlina is an international business attorney by profession and is a member of both Slovak and Czech bars. In her work, she advised several tech companies in issues related to their intellectual property, development of new technologies, and foreign investment.

Miroslav Tenkl, CzechInvest

Mikael EkmanMiroslav Tenkl is the Director of West Coast Operations of CzechInvest, a Czech governmental business development agency. The main areas of his work include the support the US companies investing in the Czech Republic in the form of R&D, data centers or software development. He is also in charge of CzechAccelerator, a three-month acceleration program for Czech startups in Silicon Valley.


Martin Rauchbauer, Open Austria

Martin RauchbauerMartin Rauchbauer is Co-Director of the Open Austria Silicon Valley Office and Austrian Consul in San Francisco. Before coming to San Francisco, Martin was Deputy Director of the Business Support Service and Head of the UNESCO unit at the Austrian Foreign Ministry in Vienna. In 2014, he was briefly CEO at the Österreich Institut GmbH in Vienna. Between 2011 and 2014, he was Director of Deutsches Haus at NYU in New York City. From 2007 until January 2011, he was the Deputy Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York. Martin also served as Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Mexico City and as Desk Officer at the Austrian Foreign Ministry. Throughout his career, Martin designed and implemented numerous high-profile academic, cultural and business-related events in North America. He also worked as a journalist for Austrian Radio and Television (ORF) and the Viennese weekly news magazine “Format.” Martin received his M.A. in International Relations and International Economics from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University in Bologna, Italy, and Washington D.C. He also holds a degree in Philosophy and German Studies from the University of Vienna.

Benjamin Bollmann, swissnex San Francisco

Benjamin Bollmann is Head of Science at swissnex San Francisco, where he develops initiatives to foster dialogue and collaboration around science, society, and wider issues facing us today. He launched the Crisis Code conference on humanitarian protection in cyberspace and Everyone a Humanitarian, an event series and physical space dedicated to the future of humanitarian response, with partners ranging from the ICRC and Wikimedia to Salesforce and Stanford. He has led interdisciplinary programs spanning from AI ethics to gene editing, and has spoken at conferences such as South By Southwest. Before joining swissnex in June 2015, he worked as a journalist and curator at the intersection of science, technology, and design in Switzerland. Benjamin obtained his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and his master’s in biomedical engineering from ETH Zurich. He also worked in neuroscience and machine learning research at MIT, focusing on brain mapping at nanoscale resolution.





Event Photos