Advisory Council

The Advisory Council supports EUTOPIA in developing its strategy. The Council advises EUTOPIA, through the Board of Presidents, on all aspects of EUTOPIA activities including but not limited to activities in education, research, governance, and external engagement, and on how EUTOPIA can make these activities sustainable in the long term.

The members of the Advisory Council are appointed by each member institution. Members have a breadth of experience and knowledge, including of both leadership in the university sector and of the policy agenda relevant to higher education in Europe and internationally. Advisory Council members are normally external to EUTOPIA’s member institutions.

Nominated By

  • Babeș-Bolyai University: Dragos Anastasiu
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel: Lieve Van den BrandeJean-Claude Burgelman
  • Ca’ Foscari University of Venice: Carlo Carraro
  • Ca’ Foscari University of Venice: Fabio Trincardi
  • CY Cergy Paris University: Grace Neville
  • Technische Universität Dresden: Babette SimonHans Mueller-Steinhagen
  • University of Gothenburg: Pam Fredmam
  • University of Ljubljana: Milan BrglezMark Pleško
  • NOVA University Lisbon:  Maria Luísa Ferreira
  • Pompeu Fabra University-Barcelona: Pelegrí Viader
  • University of Warwick: Cathy AshtonJohn Higgins


Dragos Anastasiu

Dragos Anastasiu began his entrepreneurial journey in 1995 when he founded his first company, a coach passenger line from Romania to Germany, which in only two years would become a member of the most important international passenger transport network: Eurolines.

After that first company, many more followed, around 20, that formed the Eurolines Romania Group, which developed continuously until it became a reference group in transport and tourism in Romania. Outside the country, he has developed business in Germany and the Republic of Moldova. In 2017 Dragos Anastasiu finalized the partnership with FlixBus, one of the first important business lines of Eurolines Group (international lines of transport). 

Today, after these two successful exits from transport and tourism, Eurolines Group is specialized in hospitality (Green Village Resort in Danube Delta 4*, Valea Verde Retreat in Transylvania), rent-a-car (Enterprise franchise) and support services. 

Dragos Anastasiu was the President of the Romanian-German Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Advisory Board of Romanian Business Leaders for almost 10 years.

Dragos Anastasiu is passionate about sports and education. He likes new projects, and he strongly believes in the urge to change the mindset and adjust to new frames. Besides business, an important part of his time is dedicated to education programs (, contributing to a better future for Romania (, consultancy to Romanian entrepreneurs ( and to bringing Romanians back home ( ).

Dragos is a member of the Strategic Advisory Council of the Rector for UBB.

Lieve Van den Brande

Lieve Van den Brande graduated as Master in educational sciences and Master Aggregate Higher Secondary Education at the VUB.  After having been a research assistant at the Faculty of Psychology and Education (VUB) from 1980 to 1988, she completed her PhD in the educational sciences at Université de Liège in 1992 while having started working at the European Commission. Her main research fields are decision-making in complex environments; ICT and education; competencies development for educators; development of transversal skills such as entrepreneurship; digital competencies; collaboration; creativity and innovation; EU-wide approaches to modernising education and training through innovative teaching and learning.  Lieve has been visiting lecturer at the College of Europe, ULB, Hoger Instituut voor Sociale Readaptatiewetenschappen (Higher Institute of Social Re-adaptation sciences), pedagogical tutor and course developer for the Open University Heerlen, is an active member of editorial research journals and boards and evaluator of multiple research projects and surveys.

Van den Brande was Principal Administrator at the DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission, working in digital and entrepreneurial skills and competencies. She has been working for more than 25 years at the EC - in DG Information Society around 'Telematics for Education and Training'; DG Research around social sciences research, DG Education and Culture around ‘ICT and education’ and ‘Opening up education’ and most recently DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion working on digital literacy and competences.

Jean-Claude Burgelman

As Head of Unit Open Data Policies and Science Cloud and Chair of the Taskforce on Open Science, Jean-Claude Burgelman is responsible for the open science and data policies of DG Research and Innovation (RTD) at the European Commission. He joined the European Commission in 1999 as a Visiting Scientist in the Joint Research Centre (the Institute of Prospective Technological Studies - IPTS), where he became Head of the Information Society Unit in 2005. In January 2008, he moved to the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (attached to the president of the EC) as adviser for innovation policy.  He joined DG RTD in October 2008, as advisor and then Head of Unit in charge of top-level advisory boards such as the European Research and Innovation Area Board, the Innovation for Growth Group and the European Forum for Forward-Looking Activities. 

Until 2000, Burgelman was full professor of communication technology policy at the VUB and director of the Centre for Studies on Media, Information and Telecommunication and was involved in science and technology assessment. He has been visiting professor at the University of Antwerp, the European College of Bruges and the University of South Africa and sits in several academic journals. He chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Innovation and was a member of its Science Advisory Committee.

Carlo Carraro

Carlo Carraro is President Emeritus and Professor of Economics at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. He holds a PhD from Princeton University. He was President of the University of Venice from 2009 to 2014 and President of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE) from 2018-2019. He Previously, he was Director of the Department of Economics from 2006 to 2008 and Vice-Provost for Research Management and Policy from 2001 to 2005. 

Professor Carraro is a member of the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and of the Strategic Board of the Euro Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change (CMCC). Since 2008, he has been Vice-Chair of the Working Group III and a Member of the Bureau of the Nobel Laureate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  He is also President of the National Committee on Climate Change Impacts on Infrastructures and Mobility, a member of DG ECFIN High-Level Advisory Group in Brussels and of the Strategic Advisory Board of the Euro Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change (CMCC).

He is also a Fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) and of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE). He is a World Economic Forum (WEF) Expert Network member and a Research Fellow of CEPR, London, CESifo, Munich and CEPS, Brussels.

He chairs the Committee on Climate Change and Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility of the Italian Ministry for Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility. He belongs to the same Ministry's Advisory Board (Struttura Tecnica di Missione).  He also belongs to the Strategic Board of the Hermes Universities Network. He is a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Expert Network and of the Climate Governance Stakeholder and Expert Group at the European University Institute.

Fabio Trincardi  ​​​​​

Fabio Trincardi has been the Director of the Department of Earth System Sciences and Environmental Technologies of CNR, Rome, since June 2017 after directing for 8 years the Institute of Marine Sciences (ISMAR) in Venice. 

He is a marine geologist studying continental margins, from the shore to the abyss and from mid-latitudes to polar regions, including geohazards, and the evolution of marine and coastal systems (deltas and lagoons) in the Anthropocene (the current geological epoch when humans are the dominant agent of transformation at planetary scale). 

He has participated in numerous EU projects acting as coordinator of Bluemed, Eurodelta and several projects on the geological mapping of Italian seas, blue economy (RITMARE), and sedimentological modelling and marine geohazard (also funded by Industry: EXXON, ENI, Shell, Snamprogetti, Edison). 

He is the author of about 200 articles and served on the boards of Geology, Marine Geology and Geo-Marine Letters. He held a course on Marine Geology at the University of Bologna, advising PhD students in Bologna and other European Universities. 

Grace Neville

Grace Neville is Emeritus Professor in the French Department, University College Cork and Adjunct Professor of French at University College Dublin, having retired from UCC in 2012 after a career of 35 years.  In 2008 she was appointed as UCC's first Vice President for Teaching and Learning, a position she held until 2012.

Neville has been involved in Teaching and Learning initiatives since the early 1980s, from the UCC Teaching Development Unit to more recent initiatives inspired by the Teaching and Learning Scholarship at Harvard and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  She served for many years on the board of directors of the Glucksman Gallery and was Chair of Cork University Press publishing committee.

Neville was also Director of NAIRTL (National Academy for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning) as well as overseeing the operation of UCC's Centre for Adult Continuing Education. In France, Neville is an invited member of the international jury of the IDEX/ I-SITE initiative (a major part of the French government's Investissements d'avenir programme at the ANR).  From 2014-19, she was Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee of Sorbonne-Universités, Paris (a multi-institution cluster which includes Paris-Sorbonne Université), and is an invited member of the International Scientific Advisory Board of le CRI (Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire, Paris).

In 2012, she was appointed Chair of a national initiative on innovative teaching in French higher education, and in 2015 was appointed Chair of an initiative on innovative technology in French higher education.  Both of these initiatives are part of the French government's Investissements d'avenir programme.  Neville was awarded the highest distinction bestowed by the French state, the Légion d'Honneur, as well as the Palmes Académiques, and is an invited member of the Irish Board of the Légion d'Honneur (French Embassy, Dublin), as well as Vice-President of AMOPA Irlande (the Irish branch of l'Association des Membres de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques (French Embassy, Dublin).

Babette Simon

Prof. Dr Babette Simon is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Health of the University of Paris and member of the Expert Advisory Group One Sustainable Health Forum. She has wide national and international experience across the healthcare system in private and non-private organizations with a strong focus on innovation, sustainability and value creation. Prof. Simon has held the position of Regional Vice President Medtronic Germany, served as Medical Director and Chair of the Board of the University Medical Center Mainz and is former President of the Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg. Her expertise is sought after in numerous scientific committees. She was a member of the scientific commission and medical committee of the German Council of Science and Humanities, of the supervisory boards of the University Hospital Düsseldorf and the TRON Translational Oncology Mainz gGmbH. She served as senator of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. She is a member of the University Council of the Technical University Dresden and of the board of governors of the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research GEOMAR

Hans Mueller-Steinhagen

Prof. Dr Hans Mueller-Steinhagen is President of Dresden International University and member of the Executive Board of TUDAG. From 2010 until 2020, he was the Rector of Technische Universität Dresden and Chairman of the Board of DRESDEN-concept. Beforehand, he was the Director of the Institute for Thermodynamics and Thermal Engineering at the University of Stuttgart. Prior appointments include a Professorship for Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England, and a Professorship for Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom, a member of the German Academy of Science and Technology, and he serves in the Innovation Council of the Prime Minister of Saxony, Germany. In 2020, Prof. Müller-Steinhagen received Germany’s Federal Cross for his outstanding contribution to twice achieving excellence status for the TU Dresden and his exceptional social commitment to Dresden’s urban society.

Pam Fredmam

Pam Fredmam is the President of the International Association of Universities (IAU).  Fredman served as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gothenburg from 2006 until 2017. She is a Professor of Neurochemistry and has held several leading positions within the University, for example, as Dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Gothenburg – the Sahlgrenska Academy.  

Over the years, Fredman has been active in a large number of scientific and scholarly contexts.   She has been Chair of the European Society of Neurochemistry and is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, IVA.  Fredman has also been Chairman of the Principals Council of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. 

From 2007 to 2014, Fredman was the Chairman of the Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF) and thereby actively involved in political issues concerning research and education.  As Chairman of SUHF, Fredman was also a member of the EUA Council as well as the EUA Research Policy Working Group, acting on behalf of the EUA in research policy work within the EU.   She is also on the Nordic University Association Board. From 2013, she was First Vice President of the International Association of Universities.

Milan Brglez

Milan Brglez holds a PhD in International Relations. He is a member of the European Parliament, where he is also a member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee. He entered national politics in 2014 and was elected to the National Assembly, where he also took over the role of the Speaker of the National Assembly. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana and a chairperson of its international relations department. He was a member of numerous committees at the faculty and university level and a president of the Slovenian Political Science Association.

Mark Pleško

Mark Pleško holds a PhD in physics and is the founder and CEO of Cosylab, which is a world leader in its niche of control systems for nuclear accelerators and proton cancer therapy. The company has branches in Japan, the US, China, Sweden and Switzerland. They participate in international projects such as CERN, international fusion projects TER, SLAC at Stanford and KEK in Japan. 

Pleško received the European Society of Physics Award for Control Systems in Experimental Physics in 2001 and Award for extraordinary business and entrepreneurial achievements from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia in 2017. He has been a full member of the Slovenian Academy of Engineering and other business and scientific associations and boards.

Maria Luísa Ferreira

Luísa’s professional profile combines solid academic qualifications, with over thirty years of working on a variety of aspects of education and social and economic policy in an international context, dealing not only with OECD member countries but also with developing countries as well as other non EU member States. Throughout her professional life she has engaged in teaching, research, sector studies, management, philanthropic and operational work, broadening and deepening the existing knowledge on not only education and research, but also on poverty and social policy, and providing analytical, policy and project solutions in these areas to clients in a broad range of countries.

Luísa is passionate about impact entrepreneurship and social innovation and the benefits they can bring to society and the environment. She is herself an entrepreneur at heart having throughout her career developed many projects and initiatives that she believes will create a better world. She is regularly invited to speak at events on Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, to be a member of the Jury or resource boards of competitions on charity or social entrepreneurship, and to be a mentor or to join networks of experts. Luísa seats on the board of various organizations: She is the President of the Management Board of Jos et Mimieke Foundation, a member of Strategic Board of Iris since 2017, of the Advisory Board of Konexio, an NGO, since 2020, of the WorldPlaces Project since 2022 and a member of the Strategic Advisory board of Global Shapers Luxembourg since 2015. Luisa is since May 2022 the President of the General Council of the NOVA University Lisbon.

Luísa joined the European Investment Bank in 1999. She is currently the Head of the Institute’s Social Programme where she notably created and developed the Social Innovation Tournament, a reference in the European Innovation eco-system. She started at the Institute when it was founded in 2012 and was responsible for the development and management of the Knowledge and Social Programmes. From 1999 to 2012 she was first a senior education economist, then an economic advisor in the Projects Directorate of the Bank, where she was responsible for the economic appraisal of projects and research work in the education (with special emphasis on the financing aspects of higher education) and social sectors. She was also Head of the EIB-Universities Research Action Programme. Between 2003 and 2004 she was a senior education analyst in the Education Directorate of the OECD, where she was responsible for a project on the role of education and training policy in promoting equity and social cohesion. Prior to joining the European Investment Bank she worked as a senior human resources economist at the World Bank (1992-1999), mainly involved in project and research work on education and social protection issues in Eastern Africa and Latin America. She also held teaching positions in Portugal at the Portuguese Catholic University and at the NOVA University Lisbon and research positions in the USA.

Luísa graduated in economics from the Portuguese Catholic University (Portugal), completed the course work for the MSc at the NOVA University Lisbon, and holds an MA and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA).

Pelegrí Viader

Pelegrí Viader is a Mathematics Assistant Professor at Pompeu Fabra University-Barcelona, Department of Economy and Business. His research areas are Real Analysis (Singular Functions), History of Mathematics (XVIIth Century, Fermat and Descartes) and some Applied Economy (Cournot Oligopoly). Viader has worked in the administration of UPF for a long time and was Dean of the Business School, Secretary General, Vice-rector adjunct to the Rector and Rector’s Commissioner for the EUTOPIA Project. In this capacity, he has been on the Executive Board of EUTOPIA since its creation. He was responsible, with all the EUTOPIA Vice-presidents, for the strategic design of the alliance in its present pilot phase and in the new project that aims to create the EUTOPIA European University.

Cathy Ashton

After many years’ experience embracing the public, private and NGO sectors (including roles at the Social Work Training Council and Business in the Community) Cathy Ashton was appointed to the House of Lords in 1999.

The ministerial career that followed saw Ashton first take up a role in the then Department of Education in 2001, where she served as Minister with responsibilities for all education to age 11 plus children with special educational needs, and as sole Minister in the House of Lords responsible for all education legislation.  Ashton joined the Department of Constitutional Affairs/Justice in 2004 as Minister with responsibilities for family courts, development of Supreme Court, human rights and equality legislation.  From 2007-8, she served as Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Queen’s Privy Council. She took the Lisbon Treaty through the House of Lords during that time.

In 2008, Ashton was appointed Trade Commissioner for the European Union. This led to her then being appointed High Representative for Foreign Policy and First Vice President of the European Commission. Over the following five years, she tackled some of the world’s most difficult issues, operating at the very highest level. Her achievements over this period earned her widespread praise and a host of awards and honours from around the globe, including being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ashton was appointed Chancellor of the University of Warwick in January 2017.

John Higgins

John Higgins CBE has been the public face of the digital sector in Europe since November 2011 and regularly speaks on platforms and at conferences throughout Europe and beyond. He was Director General of DIGITALEUROPE, the association for the digital technology industry in Europe, until 2017, following nine years leading its UK member association, TechUK.  In 2017 John became Chair of the Global Digital Foundation. 

In 1995 Higgins was appointed CEO of the Rocket Networks, a California-based that provided the world’s first online recording studios. He returned to the UK in 1998 and became Director General of the Computing Services and Software Association, one of Tech UK’s predecessors.  John was President of the European Commission’s Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Entrepreneurship and a European Internet Foundation board member.  John’s other committee chair roles have included the cross-industry association council of the Confederation of British Industry, the UK business association, a government/industry space committee and the global policy action committee of the World IT Services Association, WITSA.  He was a board member of e-skills, the UK’s digital sector skills council and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  John was presented with two personal awards for outstanding contributions, first to the association sector in 2004 and then to the IT industry in 2008.  He was appointed a CBE in 2005 for his services to the UK IT industry.

Higgins served as an external member of the governing body of the University of Warwick for 12 years until 2015 and was chair of its audit committee. He also chaired a committee that carried out a governance review for the University.  John has chaired Warwick’s European Advisory Board since its inception in 2016.