Meet our DIFME Ambassadors

Our partners are grateful to have the support of DIFME Ambassadors who through their commitment to the DIFME project, are working to encourage entrepreneurs, students, University and Business Tutors to come together online during our thematic events and other actions.


Dr. Leonie Baldacchino

Dr. Leonie Baldacchino holds a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship from Warwick Business School (UK), an M.A. in Creativity and Innovation (Distinction) and a B. Psy. (Hons.) from the University of Malta. She is Director and Senior Lecturer at The Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta, where she has been lecturing on entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation since 2008. She coordinates various entrepreneurship-related incentives at the University of Malta, including the Global Entrepreneurship Week events hosted locally by The Edward de Bono Institute and the entrepreneurship module on the Degree Plus programme. She has also lectured on entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation at Warwick Business School (UK) and at Teesside Business School (UK), and has delivered numerous presentations and workshops in Malta and overseas. Her research focuses on various aspects of entrepreneurship, including the psychology of entrepreneurship; social, sustainable and inclusive entrepreneurship; and entrepreneurship education. She has published locally and internationally, including in the International Journal of Management Reviews, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, and in edited books by Routledge, Springer and Edward Elgar.

Matthew Caruana

Matthew Caruana is a business innovator, coach and mentor with a proven track record for driving project success from the grassroots up. Since 2016, he has driven ZAAR, Malta’s leading crowdfunding platform, and grown it into a nationally-recognised brand. He has excelled at taking numerous start-up projects through their critical early days and helped them become successful. His achievements include coaching and mentoring students in the Climate KIC accelerator programme, JAYE and in the international Masters programme SMARTUP, as well as judging several start-up competitions, and speaking at numerous conferences about crowdfunding, entrepreneurship and alternative finance both locally and internationally. He has also made his mark as Malta’s expert at the European Commission workshop, DG GROW Workshop on Alternative Finance and FinTech, for last three consecutive years.

Today, Matthew continues to strive to positively transform Malta’s start-up scene, whether through lobbying, collaboration, mentoring, and even policy making. He sits at the forefront of this important sector of the Maltese business landscape and continues to be one of its most passionate drivers and advocates, believing it to be essential for the future of local economic success.

Daniel Debono

Daniel Debono In his role as Head of Brussels Operations for MBB and EU Affairs Manager, Daniel acts as a Permanent Delegate within the pan-European business organisations Businesseurope, Eurochambres and Hotrec. He is also in continuous liaison with the Maltese Permanent Representation to the EU, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee on policy and legislative issues of interest to the Maltese business community.

He joined the MBB in October 2010. In October 2015, Daniel moved to Brussels to manage the MBB’s Brussels Representation Office. He holds a Bachelors of Honours degree in International Relations and has read a Masters in International Political Economy at the University of Birmingham, UK.


Sabrina Manuela Emilio

Sabrina Manuela Emilio is a professional educator and trainer working for the Municipality of Florence. She is a member of the job and training placement office and responsible for the local employment centre. She is part of the Tuscany regional list of Skills assessment evaluator and works closely with local/regional public bodies related to business start-up and self-entrepreneurship like Confartigianato, Confcommercio and the local Chamber of Commerce.

Ernesto Tavoletti

Ernesto Tavoletti is Associate Professor of Management, International Marketing and International Business Strategy at the University of Macerata. He received a degree in Economics and Commerce cum laude at the University of Bologna in 1997 and PhD in Economics and Management of Enterprises and Local Systems at the University of Firenze in 2004. He is a member of the Academy of International Business. He has served in the Council of Directors of the Master in Relations with Eastern Countries from 2004 to 2011, as Co-director from 2009 and as Director in 2011 He served as board member for PhD in Management at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. Since 2011 he has been coordinating the Master’s Degree in International Economic and Trade Relations. Since 2014 he serves in the Council of Directors of the Master in Innovation in Public Management. His research interests focus on international business, innovation management and higher education management

Caterina Carroli

Caterina Carroli is Head of projects funded by ECOLE - Lombard Industrial Constitutions for Education. She is an expert in design and evaluation of projects relating to continuous training and carries out planning, management, implementation and monitoring of complex projects funded at EU, national and regional level.


Thomas Cooney

Thomas Cooney is Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Technological University Dublin, Academic Director of the Institute for Minority Entrepreneurship and Adjunct Professor at the University of Turku (Finland). He is a former President of the International Council for Small Business (2012-13) and of the European Council for Small Business (2009-11) and was Chair of the ICSB 2014 World Entrepreneurship Conference. He is a policy advisor to Governments, European Commission, OECD and other international organisations. He is a Director of four enterprises and works in various capacities with a range of businesses. He has published 9 books and presented widely on the topic, particularly in the area of minority entrepreneurship.

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton is Head of Business Development at BDO Ireland. Mark joined BDO in October 2009 and, prior to his current role, he worked in our Corporate Finance & Recovery department for 8 years. Mark is commercially minded, client focused and passionate about new and existing client’s success and development. Mark has a strong presence in the business community along with a proven track record in project management and business development.

Mark is responsible for managing and maintaining relationships with our stakeholders across multiple sectors, with an emphasis on building long-term trusting relationships and providing a quality client experience. Mark has extensive sector experience in aviation finance, financial services, technology, leisure, tourism & hospitality, agri-food, sport, pharma and healthcare. Mark is a Chartered Accountant and member of the Association of Chartered Accountants (ACA); qualifying in 2012.

Mark was also recently appointed as the Ireland Rugby Club Team Manager and helped the team to success in the 2020 Dalriada Cup in his first season.

Siobhán Finn

Siobhán Finn is Innovation Programme Manager with Cork City Council. Siobhán holds an MSc in Management Practice from Trinity College Dublin; as well as being a graduate of the Marketing Institute of Ireland and having a Diploma in Business Innovation Development from TU Dublin. Siobhán has worked across the public and private sector for over 30 years with particular focus on leading and managing multiple-stakeholder consortia. Siobhán has extensive experience in managing EU projects and has acted as external advisor on a number of additional projects. Siobhán served as a member of the Advisory Group for Small Business at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation (DJEI) from 2014 to 2016. In 2015, Siobhán was nominated by DJEI as City Region Coordinator for The Startup Gathering and in 2016 Siobhán secured the Startup Nations Summit for Cork, a first for Europe. Siobhán also owned and directed her own business in the indigenous service sector for close to 10 years.

Dr Lucía Morales

Dr Lucía Morales is a scholar and active researcher in the School of Accounting and Finance at Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin). She has made significant research contributions in the field of Economics, Finance and Education with more than 45 peer reviewed publications and 120 research papers.. Lucía has worked at different Higher Education Institutions in Ireland, the UK and Spain gaining and in depth understanding of the main challenges faced by Third Level Institutions in the fields of Economics, Finance, Education and Online Education at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Prior to her academic career, Lucía worked in the private sector as Financial Manager and Bank Foreign Department Analyst. Lucía is the founder and editor in chief of the Journal “Critical Letters in Economics and Finance (CLEF)” and founder and Conference Chair of “Disrupting Thinking” that seeks to develop research connections between scholars and practitioners and to start a dialogue that challenges traditional research


Rinze Bos

Rinze Bos has been an entrepreneur for some years. He is always looking for ways for SMEs to benefit from subsidies, whether being local, regional, national subsidies or even international grant schemes. Rinze has a great network of fellow entrepreneurs and often participates in networking meetings where they share their challenges, opportunities, etc.

Nynke de Jager

Nynke de Jager has been interested in small business and entrepreneurship since the start of her university studies. She holds a master’s degree in Business Administration – Small Business and Entrepreneurship and has been working with Inqubator Leeuwarden for some years. Nynke has been involved in the development of entrepreneurship programmes ever since. She has a great network with entrepreneurs, but is also closely connected to the regional universities, universities of applied sciences and vocational institutes.

Iris Bos

Iris Bos works with Business Development Friesland and has been involved in European projects with a focus on (social) entrepreneurship and soft skills .One of her current projects is specifically to raise awareness on the importance of entrepreneurial/soft skills of VET students .Another project aims to support small business owners in retail/hospitality etc. with the trend of more online shopping and digitalisation in their markets.


Prof Dimitar Brankov

Prof Dimitar Brankov is Deputy Chairman and Adviser to the Chairman of the Board of the Bulgarian Industrial Association . He is Director responsible for Environmental Policy and sits on the Board of the Economic and Social Council and Advisory Council on the European Green Deal . He holds a Ph.D from the Bulgarian Academy of Science and is a Professor in the Institute for Management and Administration.

He has published more than 70 publications in industrial relations, labour market, corporate management and EMS.

Prof. Tsvetana Aleksandrova Stoyanova

Prof. Tsvetana Aleksandrova Stoyanova is Vice-Rector for Institutional and Business Cooperation and Student Policies and Director of the Centre for Business Excellence at the University of National and World Economy in Sofia. She heads the Implementation of Academic Programmes in the Educational Qualification Degree. Her taught subjects are Strategic Management, Knowledge Management, Principles of Management, Human Resources Strategic Management, Corporate Management, Strategies for Internationalization.

Assoc. Prof, Josif Avramov

Assoc. Prof, Josif Avramov is Co-Chair of the Innovation Council of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He is Deputy Chairman of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurship, Chairman of the Board of the Consulting Center for European Programmes "Lyulin”, Chairman of the Board of the International Centre for Privatization and Foreign Investment in Bulgaria and Chairman of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurship and Crafts. He is Senior Adviser to the Economic Commission of the National Assembly, Chief Specialist to the Ministry of Finance and Head of the Finance and Investments Department within the Ministry of Science and Education.

He is the author of 15 books related to financial control, finance and banking, over 50 scientific articles, as well as about 300 articles in the periodical press. He lectures at the New Bulgarian University, Sofia as well as at the Faculty of Economics, Technical University, Sofia.


Dr Eirini Leriou

Dr Eirini Leriou is an Economist with research based on entrepreneurship. She has teaching experience with both undergraduates and postgraduates in subjects related to; Entrepreneurship, Business Finance and Administration, Financial Management, Information Systems, Advanced Quantitative Methods for Managers, Public Economics, Macroeconomic Analysis, Mathematical Economics, Welfare Indexes, Economic Development and Human Well-Being and Microeconomic Analysis.

She is an editor of international journals and is certified in distance education. She is a member of the International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS) and the Community Indicators Consortium (CIC). She is also the Scientific Coordinator, and Project Manager of the Research Program “C.W.-SMILE”.

Dr Nelly Leligou

Dr Nelly Leligou is an Associate Professor at the University of West Attica. She is Scientific Coordinator of H2020-ASSET project ( which addresses the skill gaps including digitalization, social sciences and business aspects for the energy transition sector.

Dr Dimitrios D. Piromalis

Dr Dimitrios D. Piromalis is Assistant Professor in the Industrial Design and Production Engineering Department at the University of West Attica in Athens, Greece. His research interests lie in the design and development of electronic embedded systems in application areas such as autonomous vehicles, internet of things, and cyber-physical systems. He is author to many books covering engineering subjects and more than 120 publications in international scientific research journals, conferences and book chapters. Prof. Piromalis has been collaborated with top multinational semiconductors industries as Field Application Engineer and Technical Consultant for the last twenty-five years


Dr. Veronika Fetzer

Dr Veronika Fetzer is project leader for the Digital Start-up Initiative Upper Palatinate Region (DGO). Since 2018, she has been actively building a sustainable start-up ecosystem in the field of digitalization in the Upper Palatinate region and beyond with the focus is to promote innovative, technology-oriented start-ups and industry-wide networking for founders, start-ups, established companies and the regional universities. The collaboration within this field in Europe has since 2020 been strengthen further through initiatives such as the INTERREG Danube Transnational Programme.

She is a lecturer at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) in Ravensburg.Dr Fetzer has gained extensive experience as an IT consultant at Icondu GmbH, as a research assistant at the Chair of Innovation and Technology Management at the University of Regensburg, and during her apprenticeship-integrated studies at the Bavarian State Bank. She completed her Business Administration doctorate at the University of Regensburg in 2016.

Sophie Tartler

Sophie Tartler is a Research Assistant at OTH Regensburg supporting DIFME. She holds a Bachelor´s Degree in European Business with a focus on International Financial Management from OTH Regensburg (Bavaria, Germany) and a BA (Honours) European Business form Oxford Brookes University (UK). Sophie is currently studying a MA in Development Economics and International Studies at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg.

As she is still a student, she builds the bridge between the DIFME project and one of its target groups – students. Due to her specialization in International Financial Management she also brings knowledge with regards to the financial literacy skills of DIFME and through working and living internationally she also incorporates the international aspect of DIFME.

Photo: Sebastian Knopp
Dr. Nicole Litzel

Dr. Nicole Litzel is Officer for Research Affairs for the City of Regensburg, Bavaria, since 2015. She is working at the Department for Economic and Research Affairs where most of the industrial clusters in the region since 1990 were designed, implemented and released to independence. Her field of activity here is to foster existing and create new cooperation between academia/higher education institutes and administration/municipality as well as industry.

Nicole holds a Diploma in Economics (D) and Business Analysis (GB). From 2008 to 2015 she worked as a researcher in the field of regional economics at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), the research unit of the Federal Employment Agency. Already in 2000 she started doing field research on the triple helix structures in Eastern Bavaria, resulting in her PhD in 2014.