Leigh Woods

Leigh Woods

Leigh is originally from the United Kingdom but has spent the vast majority of his post- education years living and working abroad. After completing school, he left his home country for Greece, and later moved to Prague, Czech Republic where he gained employment with Mckinsey & Company. In 2013, Leigh turned his attention to working with non-profits whilst also gaining qualifications in environmental conservation in South Africa. He later went on to lead the communications and development of a humanitarian organisation based in rural Rwanda, and served as a guardian to at-risk teenagers during the few years he spent there. His passions include wildlife conservation, youth development, and photography.

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With the Youth International Summer School in Shanghai just a few months away, Youth Time International Movement begins to interview the experts who will be sharing their expertise throughout the event. One of these experts is Mr. Rob van Kranenburg, Founder of Council – the largest independent IoT thinktank.

Mr. van Kranenburg also works as Ecosystem Manager for the EU projects Tagitsmart and Next Generation Internet. He wrote The Internet of Things - a critique of ambient technology and the all-seeing network of RFID, Network Notebooks 02, Institute of Network Cultures. Together with Christian Nold, Rob van Kranenburg published Situated Technologies Pamphlets 8: The Internet of People for a Post-Oil World. He is co-editor of Enabling Things to Talk Designing IoT solutions with the IoT Architectural Reference Model, Springer Open Access. Further, Rob is in the SmartCitiesWorld Advisory Board and chairs AC04 - IoT Hyper-connected Society of the IERC, The European Research Cluster on the Internet of Things. Rob is also a member of The IoT Asia 2017 International Advisory Panel (IAP) and involved in building the ecosystem for the Next Generation Internet.

Mr. Rob van Kranenburg will be hosting a workshop on the topic, “The Role of Big Data and IoT in Smart Cities”. This interview aims to provide the Youth International Summer School participants with insight into what they can expect from the workshop, in addition to learning how to best prepare for it.

Mr. van Kranenburg, what is it about the Youth International Summer School in Shanghai that interests you most?

The people attending. Especially now I would like to know more how Millennials and the generations after them come to terms with their digitally hybrid world. Me, I am from the eighties. I still see a door and a key in the lock. I realize that for anyone after me there are just a thousand doors. Which one to open? Which one leads to a good room?

Are there any particular areas you will be focussing on with regard to the workshop on Big Data and IoT?

I will focus on the ‘thickness’ of data, the granularity of data that makes up real time analytics that makes sense for everyday life and living. I will talk about the growing centralization, crypto, and fintech. I will argue that as a society you need a system approach in order to build the best balance between centralization and decentralization.

What lessons can participants expect to gain from your workshop and how will they best apply them to their future endeavours?

I hope that in the years to come they realize they have agency and they should act when they feel the need.

Are there any additional topics or elements you wish to bring to our attention or add to the discussion?

Agency is the most important thing. Responsibility is second. Being true to yourself is the key.

Photo: From the archive of Rob van Kranenburg

As the Youth International Summer School in Shanghai is now less than two months away, Youth Time International Movement are gearing up to welcome the experts and participants that will be travelling from all over the globe to share their knowledge, ideas, and experiences with one another. To get participants in the mood for the event we begin to interview the speakers and trainers who will pass on their expertise and advice to participants at the event. One of these experts is Dr. Oualid Ali.

Dr. Oualid Ali is considered as one of the international well-recognized experts in the field of Future cities (Smart, Sustainable and innovative Cities) and has participated in several future cities projects as a researcher or as a consultant. He has been involved in the planning and implementation of future cities in many domains such as smart mobility and transportation, smart tourism and destination, smart energy, smart healthcare, smart logistics, smart waste management, smart parking, smart water management, smart education, smart security, smart policing and law enforcement, etc. Moreover, Dr. Ali is a member of several organizations related to the area of Smart Cities or Urban technologies. He has been invited on many occasions to local, regional and international events as a guest or keynote speaker to deliver talks and presentations about future cities and its domains. Dr. Oualid Ali is the founder and president of the Future Cities Council which has more than 70,000 members from government (cities), industry, academia and civic society. He is also the founder of Inno-Gate, a firm that is specialized in emerging & innovative technologies, innovation management, entrepreneurship and digital transformation.

Dr. Oualid Ali will be delivering his presentation on the topic, “Innovation Labs, Startup Accelerators and Incubators for Entrepreneurial Success”. This interview aims to provide Youth International Summer School participants with added insight and understanding as to what they can expect from Dr. Oualid Ali’s talk, in addition to learning how to best prepare for the event.

Oualid Ali, share with us a short introduction about yourself, your career and areas of expertise.

I gained my PhD in computer science at Laval University in Canada and have since lived in the UK, UAE and Oman. My field of interest is Future, Tech trends, innovation, Industry x.0 and smart cities. Presently, I’m travelling the world as a futurist and global speaker.

What is it about the Youth International Summer School in Shanghai that excites you most and how does it resonate with your personal interests and professional experience?

I have been delivering training sessions and speeches about smart cities at several summer school events across the world including Aachen (German), Trento (Italy) and Oman. The most exciting thing about the Youth International Summer School for me are the location of the event (I have visited Shanghai and it is an amazing city), the topics of the school (comprehensive topics about smart cities, society, etc.) as well as the network I’m going to meet during the event.

Innovation labs and startup acceleratorshave an important role to play in the future of our young entrepreneurs? Without giving too much away, could you explain how your presentation will go into this?

In my presentation I will talk about the innovation and the entrepreneur ecosystem in general and how this will prepare the youth for the challenges of the future. I will go deeper into how the spaces like innovation labs, accelerators and incubators have boosted the careers of creative young entrepreneurs and helped them to become successful. These case studies will help likeminded participants to enjoy the same success.

What lessons can participants expect to gain from your presentation and how will they best apply them both personally and professionally?

The attendees will learn a lot about innovation and entrepreneurship. As outcomes of my lecture, I’m sure that many people will discover their own great ideas and become motivated to grow their own startups in incubators and accelerator spaces (there are a lot in Shanghai and China).

Is there any advice you can offer in advance to Youth International Summer School participants before attending your talk?

My advice is the following: the future is fast and very challenging, and they have to be prepared for it. The only way to be prepared is to innovate and work very hard.

On the 5th of June 2017, Youth Time hosted its seventh annual International Summer School and the second in Beijing, China following the great success one year previously. In association with our partners and friends at the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, the event brought together experts, speakers, and participants together from all corners of the globe. Through a comprehensive series of masterclasses, workshops, and cultural exchange programmes, young entrepreneurs from far and wide were equipped with the necessary tools to formulate their own successful businesses and social enterprises.




The highly impressive China Soong Ching Ling Foundation International Exchange Campsite and Science Centre was the venue of choice for this most special of events. Predominantly a center of education for young people, the setting seemed an obvious choice – especially considering the grandiose interior and state-of-the art facilities available.

This year’s theme was: ‘Startups and Exchanges as Pillars of a New World Order’. The program of the events comprised days that were dedicated to the topics, “Building”, “Collaboration”, “Sales”, and “Exchange” all of which were tied into the main theme. The idea behind the structured agenda was to provide participants with expert advice on the stages of initiating successful startups, followed by an equally important component, cultural exchange, which entailed visiting some of Beijing’s most famous landmarks and even learning how to make Chinese dumplings!

An opening ceremony marked the commencement of the event, with Standing Vice Chairman of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, Mr. Hang Yuanxiang using the opportunity to acknowledge and thank the participants, “Young people from 23 countries are gathered here today in Beijing to carry out meaningful discussions and bridge together cultures through business. On behalf of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, I would like to extend a warm welcome to every one of you.”

Throughout the International Summer School, Youth Time in collaboration with the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation stayed true to its mission and vision, encouraging all participants to keep in mind that with success comes social responsibility. Indeed, President of the Youth Time International Movement, Ms. Julia Kinash remarked during her opening ceremony speech, “It would appear obvious that youth entrepreneurship and cultural exchange are key to generating opportunities and providing sustainable livelihoods in the future. The International Summer School encourages young people to become active, creative, and socially responsible citizens. The lessons participants will learn over the next few days will help to sculpt a positive future not just for themselves, but for society and future generations.”




Over the course of the event, participants had the chance to gain deeper insight into the world of modern business, in addition to learning a few things about themselves and others. The workshops and masterclasses hosted by local and internationally esteemed business academia were highly interactive, with attendees encouraged to ask plenty of questions and engage in team building activities with fellow participants and experts alike.

The series of educational and inspiring activities were kicked off by honorable guest, Dr. Vladimir Yakunin, Head of the department of Political Science, of Moscow State University. On Building Day, his key note speech “How to Start Your Own Business: Successful examples and contradictions for different parts of the world”, provided participants with expert knowledge and ideas applicable for initiating their own startups.

Later that afternoon, Dr. Yakunin also hosted an insightful workshop entitled, “How to choose the right business partners” in which participants learned the key elements required for establishing fruitful partnerships.





But not all seminars were related directly to business as Mr. Nick Fewings, CEO of Ngagementworks demonstrated on Collaboration Day through his enlightening and thoroughly entertaining masterclass, “Collaboration for Future Success”. Participants not only discovered more about their own personality types, but also learned how to deal with those who had opposing traits in both a personal and professional capacity.

The final day of seminars saw a number of experts share their knowledge and advice in the field of sales and marketing. Ms. Wang Lili, Founder of Sidai International opened up with her masterclass on, “Brand Positioning and Marketing”. Using examples of highly successful brands, Ms. Wang delved into the thought processes and strategies behind marketing campaigns dependent on various target audiences worldwide.

Following a fruitful week comprising educational and thought-provoking activties, it was then time for participants to enjoy the historic sights of Beijing. Included in the itinerary were visits to the Forbidden City and Imperial Palace, before a trip to the International Makers Center.




The event was capped off in traditional Youth Time style, with a closing ceremony and gala dinner hosted at the beautiful Former Residence of Soong Ching Ling. Among the activities were an awarding ceremony, a video summarizing the event, and speeches and performances from participants. Ms. Julia Kinash, President of Youth Time International Movement closed the event with remarks that summarized the week and embodied the true spirit of the organization and its credo, “Throughout the past six days, we have joined together to learn not only about business and entrepreneurship, but also ourselves and each other. New bonds, perhaps everlasting, have been made through intercultural and intergenerational exchange. All of you deserve to be successful, but with success, we have an obligation to fulfill. Share your newfound knowledge with others and become the positive change-makers you were destined to be.

Follow Youth Time movement and Youth Time magazine websites for more updates on future events and activities and do not miss your chance to participate in one of them. Furthermore, if you are interested in Sustainable Development and Social Entrepreneurship, make sure to apply for Youth Time Global Forum, which will be held in November.

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