Congratulations to IRIS, the 2021 winner of InfraChallenge!
AI-enabled solution for infrastructure maintenance
Listen to their interview on GI Hub’s podcast here

To help make infrastructure more sustainable, resilient and inclusive, the GI Hub created InfraChallenge, an annual competition that advances promising
technologies by giving start-ups and entrepreneurs an opportunity to bring their solutions to a global market. Now in its second year, InfraChallenge is supported
by the Italian G20 Presidency and is focused on solutions for better and more resilient infrastructure, a key topic for the G20 and one that we have seen the
importance of during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Header image courtesy of Mrüna, InfraChallenge 2020 Winner for BiomWeb wastewater treatment solutions. See more here.

You’re invited to join GI Hub and the Italian G20 Presidency for the InfraChallenge 2021 Final, comprising:

Day 1: Making Infrastructure Future-proof, sessions with expert guest speakers exploring technological innovations and their role in creating resilient infrastructure.

Day 2: The InfraChallenge Final, in which the top 10 competitors will give their final pitches of their solutions, and the 2021 winner will be announced.

The InfraChallenge 2021 Final is free and open to everyone, and participants can join any or all of the sessions. Learn the details of the sessions and register below. 

Register here

Watch the two-day final event

InfraChallenge 2021 Final Event Day 1

Panel Session: How can we enable innovation for a resilient future?
(05:22 - 37:13)

  • Anil Sawhney, Global Lead, Construction and Infrastructure sector, RICS (moderator)
  • Sara Alvarado, Executive Director, Institute for Sustainable Finance
  • Bernadine Fernz, Head of Infrastructure, Open Contracting Partnership
  • Paul Lam, Strategy and Policy Officer (Digital and Technology), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

1:1 discussion: Developing technology partnerships for emerging economies (37:17 – 1:04:27)

  • Monica Bennett, Director, Thought Leadership, Global Infrastructure Hub (moderator)
  • Reinaldo Fioravanti, Lead Sector Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank

Case study insights: Innovative infrastructure solutions for a more resilient future (1:05:06 – 1:28:35)

  • Henri Blas, Chief Content Officer, Global Infrastructure Hub (moderator)
  • Piero Pelizzaro, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Milan
  • Melissa Zanocco, Head of Programmes, Infrastructure Client Group

InfraChallenge 2021 Final Event Day 2:

Welcome and introduction

  • Marie Lam-Frendo, Chief Executive Officer, Global Infrastructure Hub
  • Laura Palma, Senior Advisor, G7/G20 Coordination Officer, Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance

Top 10 presentations (06:27 – 1:29:29)

  • 030 Solutions, AKYAS Sanitation, AVUS, Detektia, ESG Base, Greenrail, Infraclear, IRIS, ORIS, Xpert Converters

Keynote address (1:29:30 – 1:48:52)

  • Sadek Wahba, Founder, Chairman, and Managing partner, I Squared Capital

Winner announced (1:51:10 – 1:56:19)

Supported by

Supported by

InfraChallenge 2021 is delivered by the GI Hub and supported by the Italian G20 Presidency.

InfraChallenge 2021 is supported by the Italian G20 Presidency. The program of the Italian G20 Presidency hinges on three thematic pillars: People, Planet and Prosperity. In line with these pillars, the Presidency seeks to strengthen infrastructure by embarking on a transformative infrastructure agenda to increase resilience, improve maintenance of existing assets, promote the development of future digital and sustainable infrastructure, and foster the inclusion of the most vulnerable groups. Supporting InfraChallenge contributes directly to these objectives of the Italian G20 Presidency.

Meet the teams

Meet the Judges

Ernesto Ciorra

Ernesto Ciorra, Enel Foundation

Title: Chief Innovability Officer, Enel Foundation  

Ernesto Ciorra joined Enel Foundation as Chief Innovability Officer in 2014. The Enel Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that conducts research to explore the implications of global challenges in the energy domain. Ernesto is also a Board Member at Cesi, which is a world-leading global technical consulting company in the energy sector.

Prior to joining Enel, Ernesto worked as a consultant for a variety of international brands including American Express, BNP, Nokia, Telecom Italia, Unicredit, Unilever, and Vodafone. Ernesto’s role included assisting these brands with the design and launch of new innovative products and solutions, which have since gained popularity worldwide.

Ernesto has also lectured in Innovation Management at universities in Italy and Spain and has been featured in a number of academic publications by top-tier business schools including Harvard and Berkeley.

Ernesto has a degree in Business Economics and a Master’s in Strategic Marketing Management from Bocconi University, Milan.

Marie Lam-Frendo, Global Infrastructure Hub

Title: CEO, Global Infrastructure Hub

Marie Lam-Frendo was appointed CEO by the Board of the Global Infrastructure Hub (GI Hub) in January 2019.Prior to joining the GI Hub she was the Head of Asia-Pacific for Acuity, the advisory services business of the SNCL group, helping clients in regard to infrastructure project strategy and finance.

From 2011 to 2014, Marie headed the Infrastructure Initiatives department of the World Economic Forum, where she led their thought leadership activities, publishing thought leadership reports on best practices in the infrastructure sector. She led the dissemination effort of these best practices to governments and advocated to coalitions such as the B20 and the G20.

Before that, Marie worked for European utilities Essent then RWE where she drove their business development activities in the Africa and Central Asia region for various commodities, including their equity investment in LNG and hydro power plants.

She started her career in 2001 and has worked for various engineering consulting firms holding several technical and commercial positions for energy and transport projects in Africa, Middle East and Europe.
Marie holds an MSc of Civil Engineering from EPF, an MSc of Marketing and Strategy from ESCP-EAP (Paris), and an MSc of Management and Leadership from WEF - in partnership with LBS and INSEAD. She is a Global Leadership Fellow of the World Economic Forum.

Prerna Soni, Invest India

Title: Vice President Financial Investors Initiative, Infrastructure, Real Estate & Energy, Invest India

Prerna Soni holds over a decade of experience in Financial Services including Infrastructure Financing and Treasury. Currently, Prerna leads the Financial Investors Initiative, Infrastructure, Real Estate and Energy verticals at Invest India, the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India.

Her focus has been on attracting institutional investors such as Sovereign Wealth Funds, Pension Funds and Private Equity to invest in India. Prerna contributed to India’s first asset recycling project which saw investments of $1.5 Billion and has been working with Government and private entities across sectors to introduce new asset classes and create investment opportunities in the country in the infrastructure space including rolling stock PPP and  opportunities in the distressed space amongst others. She has previously worked with General Electric and Ernst & Young. 

Meet the Mentors

Sara Alvarado, Institute for Sustainable Finance (ISF)

Title: Executive Director 

Country: Canada

Sara joined the Institute for Sustainable Finance (ISF) as Executive Director in April 2021. She is former Head of Risk & CAMLO at the Canada Infrastructure Bank in Toronto, where she spent 25 years in the investment industry. Prior to joining the CIB, she worked as Senior Officer, Infrastructure New Products & Special Transactions at the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Sara is current Co-Chair at the World Economic Forum’s Infrastructure 4.0 Initiative. She is current Board Member at the Cambridge Memorial Hospital, where she also sits at the Resources and Capital Redevelopment Committees. Sara is a CFA charter holder and has an MBA from the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University. She has also attended executive programmes at Harvard Business School in Boston.


Javier González Báez, ACCIONA

Title: Open Innovation & Ecosystem Manager 

Country: Spain 

Javier’s professional career has included working for companies such as BPM (Accenture) and Vodafone, where he participated in various projects related to the development of e-commerce and the implementation of mobile communications solutions in business environments. Linked to ACCIONA since 2004, he came to the Corporate Innovation area as analyst of trends and new technologies, leading the Technological and Competitive Observatory for two years, prior to launch the ACCIONA's Open Innovation Platform.


Samer Bagaeen, University of Kent

Title: Professor of Planning & Resilient Systems

Country: UK

Professor Samer joined the University of Kent (UK) as Professor of Planning & Resilient Systems in Canterbury in April 2018 in a strategic advisory role where is also manages one of the Creative Estuary projects, cultural co-location in placemaking. During this time, he supported the RICS in London in a thought leadership role and currently delivers the Institution’s corporate training on ESG & sustainability. Samer previously worked as Associate Director (City Relationships) with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. He delivered integrated city resilience strategies for Amman, Ramallah, Byblos, Tbilisi, and Rome. He supported the Amman C40 Climate Action Plan and also worked with Aecom and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on the Amman Green City Action Plan.

Samer served as a Trustee of the Town and Country Planning Association in London (2015-2020). He delivered the Master Plan for the Abdali brownfield regeneration project in Amman (Jordan) in the early 2000s when he also worked on the masterplan for the West Bay in Doha (Qatar). Before that, he delivered the Old City of Jerusalem Revitalisation Plan for the Welfare Association (Switzerland).

Brindusa Burrows, The Ground_Up Project

Title: Founder & CEO

Country: Switzerland 

Brindusa founded the Ground_Up Project - an impact/SDG investing intermediary based in Switzerland. Currently operating the Pipeline Builder project with the SDG Lab at the UN in Geneva, systematizing SDG-investment in emerging markets. Previously with the World Economic Forum, Brindusa designed and led a multi-country program to create public and private investment instruments for clean energy, energy efficiency and climate-smart agriculture under the G20.

Mark Enzer, Mott MacDonald

Title: Head of National Digital Twin programme at the Centre for Digital Built Britain and Chief Technical Officer of Mott MacDonald 

Country: UK

As the Head of the National Digital Twin programme within the Centre for Digital Built Britain, Mark is contributing to the leadership of this ambitious programme to enable an ecosystem of connected digital twins across the built environment. As Mott MacDonald’s Chief Technical Officer, Mark is accountable to the Executive Board for technical excellence across the Group.

In addition, he is a co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council’s Digital Network and he is the Digital Transformation workstream lead for the Infrastructure Client Group, which represents the UK’s major infrastructure client organisations. Mark was the Lead Author of the Infrastructure Carbon Review, published by HM Treasury. 

Rafael Fernández, Ferrovial

Title: Innovation & Digital Strategy Director 

Country: Spain 

Rafael is currently the Innovation and Digital Strategy Director at Ferrovial. Previously, at Ferrovial Servicios, he held the positions of Head of Innovation and Project Director at the Centre of Excellence for Cities.

He has extensive international experience in the Technology and Urban Mobility sector, where he has held positions such as the Asia-Pacific and EMEA Business Directions in Telvent (Kapsch) as well as holding consulting positions in IDOM.

Bernadine Fernz, Open Contracting Partnership

Title: Global Head of Infrastructure 

Country: UK

Bernadine is the Global Head of Infrastructure and Regional Head of Asia Pacific at the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP).  Before joining OCP, she was Associate Director and Regional Manager for Latin America and Southeast Asia at CoST – the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative. She began her development career at Deloitte & Touché, working on mega-infrastructure projects before further specialising in climate governance at the Overseas Development Institute. A barrister by trade, she has over 20 years of experience across the legal, consulting and international development sectors.

Jon Gustafson, Stantec

Title: Senior Principal

Country: USA

Jon Gustafson is a digital strategy and innovation leader with significant experience cultivating innovation for public infrastructure agencies. His portfolio of research and policy development includes working closely with transportation and transit agencies on deploying and implementing innovative solutions by challenging the conventional, fostering an innovation-centric business culture, and more effectively delivering infrastructure projects though digital-forward strategies. 

Jon brings a holistic view of the innovation ecosystem from the knowledge and creativity sources to the processes and technology needed to implement, commercialize, and scale.


Jeff Herriman, Ascentage Group

Title: Managing Director 

Country: USA

Jeff has over 30 years of international experience in starting, developing, buying/selling and turning around companies and senior management teams as a strategist, deal-maker and “company doctor.”

Jeff joined Ascentage in 2019 to provide business strategy and corporate development support to players in the emerging construction technology space. Earlier, he was responsible for strategy, mergers & acquisitions and information technology at Turner Construction in the early 2000s and had the same roles with W.S.Atkins engineering until 2017. In both cases, he was responsible for incubating new technology enabled ventures and partnering with software, hardware and solution providers, from start-ups to Autodesk and SAP.

Jeff has completed over 50 transactions on buy- and sell-side in the US, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. Over the years, he has built a strong network of relationships with private equity, investment banking, legal and accounting firms.

Earlier in his career, Jeff was a strategy consultant and part of a start-up management team. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is also a registered representative of Madison Park Group, a member of FINRA and SIPC.

Andrew Jones, ASX

Title: General Manager Strategic Partnerships 

Country: Australia 

Andrew has over 25 years of experience in financial services. Prior to moving to the ASX 12 months ago to work on partnerships and ASX’s distributed leger platform, Andrew worked with a small team launching RateSetter and growing it to be Australia’s largest peer-to-peer lender. Andrew has led numerous projects focusing on disruptive innovation in financial services and has served on a number of boards in the finance sector. Before the ASX and RateSetter, Andrew worked at Challenger, Qantas and Baker & McKenzie. He has an honours degree in Law and Commerce.

Paul Lam, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Title: CFA, Strategy Officer 

Country: China 

Paul joined Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2018, first as Investment Officer and then Strategy Officer. Paul has worked before with UBS AG, International Finance Corporation, and CDC plc.

Paul has executed more than USD650m of principal equity and debt investments and advised USD2bn of corporate M&A transactions and co-founded and advised multiple technology projects and ventures (such as green blockchain applications for the World Bank and KPMG 100 Fintech startup). He was selected as one of the G20 Global Young Changers in 2017 and an adviser to UN High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation on digital inclusiveness in 2018.

Paul holds Master of philosophy and Economics and Finance from the University of Cambridge and a Certificate of innovation-driven entrepreneurship from MIT. Paul is a Chartered Financial Analyst and a Fellow of Royal Society of Arts. 

Luc Lapointe, The BC.lab

Title: CEO & Founder

Country: Colombia 

Luc has played a vital role in promoting Innovative Financing principles with a select group of leaders
and coalitions, such as: Leading Group on Innovative Financing, Senior Advisor to Concordia Strategic Dialogue on Innovative Finance, Advisor Social Impact Bond in Colombia, Founder & Global Council - Impact 2030, Member professor of the Impact & Sustainable Finance Faculty Consortium. Beginning in October of 2013, Luc introduced the teaching of Innovative Finance at two universities in Colombia. As an expert on innovative finance, Luc speaks at several global forums, events, as well as provide expertise to the United Nations and Development Financial Institution on the opportunities to use catalytic funding to attract private and blended capital.


James Moore, Jacobs

Title: Global Solutions Director, Cities & Places 

Country: USA

James has over 30 years of technical and managerial experience and leadership in architecture, urban design, community planning, and urban regeneration. With Jacobs, he is helping lead and expand the company’s Cities & Places practice worldwide, with an emphasis on urban and suburban re-positioning, redevelopment and revitalisation. James has a deep understanding of cities as complex “systems of systems” in which all component elements are integral to strategy, planning, design, development and operations. 

Shalendra Ranasinghe, Webuild

Title: Global Lead Key Accounts 

Country: Italy 

Shalendra Ranasinghe is a civil engineer with 30 years experience in infrastructure.  She has held senior management positions in both the private and public sector in Australia, Asia and Europe and is currently located in Italy as Global Lead Key Accounts for Webuild, a multi-national construction firm. She also holds an interest in the start-up section and in 2016 was a Regional Finalist (London) in the Hult Prize, the world’s biggest engine for the launch of for-good, for-profit start-ups.

Dr Anil Sawhney, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

Title: Director of the Infrastructure Sector 

Country: USA

Anil is an engineer, technologist, and entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in the construction sector. He has a rich mix of industry, academic, research, and consulting experience gathered working in the United States, India, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. He worked as a technical consultant to the World Bank from 2002 to 2007 under the International Comparison Program to develop a framework for spatial and temporal comparison for the comparison-resistant construction sector.

In 2020, Anil co-authored a book entitled “Construction 4.0-Innovation Platform for the Built Environment.” Dr. Sawhney has published over 150 publications in refereed technical journals and technical conferences. He is currently the co-editor of the Construction Innovation Journal and also serves on the international editorial board of the ICE Infrastructure Asset Management journal and the Journal of Information Technology in Construction.

Veronica Vecchi, SDA Bocconi School of Management

Title: Associate Professor in Business Government Relations 

Country: Italy 

Veronica Vecchi is an Associate Professor in Business Government Relation at SDA Bocconi School of Management. She is a contracted professor in “Long Term Investment and Public Private Partnership” and “Financial Management” at Università Bocconi.

At SDA Bocconi, she serves as Director of Executive Education at SDA Bocconi Asia Center – Mumbai since 2014 and Director of the International Executive Masters in Business (IEMB) since 2015. She serves as Director of Impact Investing Lab since 2013. Since 2021 she is the scientific director of the Observatory Masan, dedicated to the management of healthcare procurement. Previously, from 2016 to 2020, she served as Director of the executive program in public procurement for the healthcare sector (MASAN). Since 2005 she has been the director of programs (open market and custom) on public private partnerships, local development and public financial management. She has run numerous executive education programs, research and consultancy projects for Institutions and private companies.

Peter White, Envirosuite

Title: Director 

Country: Australia 

Over his 30-year career Peter has specialised in scaling companies in the B2B technology space, and in organisational transformation.  He has performed executive roles in both multinational and small companies in Australia, Asia and Europe.  From this varied experience he has gained a keen understanding of the role of technology in business, and what it takes to develop successful businesses and teams. 

He has spent the past 8 years as Managing Director at an Australian-listed envirotech company, taking technology to the global stage and growing the company many-fold.  He now performs advisory and non-executive Board roles. Other areas of expertise include capital raising, investor relations and software commercialisation.


Tim Williams, Publicani

Title: Advisor, Board member and Director

Country: Australia 

Tim was Cities Leader for Arup in Australasia and is recognised as an international urban renewal thinker. Tim was a special advisor on urban regeneration, housing and city planning to five successive senior UK ministers. Since coming to Australia, Tim has become a leading city thinker, his experience has included being CEO of the Committee for Sydney, Chair for Open Cities and is a founding member of the NSW Circular hosted by UNSW. Tim is now advisor, Board member and Adjunct Professor and Director at Publicani.

Felix Gonzalez Yague, ACCIONA

Title: Strategy Director 

Country: Spain

Felix is Strategy Director and CEO officer Director at ACCIONA and current advisor for the European Union, the World Economic Forum, and different local and regional governments and Co-op Associations in Spain.

Felix holds an PhD in Engineering, a Bachelor of Science and International Economics and an Executive MBA in Sustainable and Circular Economy Business Models and Strategy, with a deep focus on Responsible Industries and Shared Value Creation.

Felix’s philosophy and advice for entrepreneurs and innovators is:

“Think, reflect, meditate, philosophize, digest your ideas… Invent yourself every day, and specially, share all this. If others had not done it before, we would not be talking now. Integration is the way to a sustainable evolution"