PhD candidates making a difference

How some of our PhD candidates have realized their ideas.


Sandro Iacovella

“The InnoEnergy PhD School really helped me in thinking about the big picture.”

Sandro completed his PhD thesis at KU Leuven, with three months at KTH in Stockholm and six months at Berkley, California. His work focused on developing algorithms to control smart appliances and manage load balancing on the grid. He subsequently founded his own company, Flexicity, which now employs five people.

Hussain Syed Kazmi

“The goal is not always to create a start-up – it is to make a difference. Before this I didn’t know I could do that, and now I think I can.”

Hussain spends his time between KU Leuven, where his professors are based, and InnoEnergy start-up, Enervalis, where his research is put into practice. His research covers smart buildings and smart cities: specifically, he is looking at the role that machine learning and artificial intelligence can have in intelligent controls for load balancing – without affecting users.

Henrique Pombeiro

“The PhD School has really changed my point of view of energy, of the market, of the world, of life.”

As a PhD candidate at IST: Instituto Superior Técnico, in Lisbon and the co-manager of a successful start-up, Henrique is working on increasing people’s awareness of their energy consumption and encouraging them to use energy more efficiently either by cutting consumption or by installing renewable technologies in their homes.

Khadija Benis

“The PhD School has opened a whole world of opportunities and has given me the chance to meet people from many different backgrounds”

Khadija is hoping to reduce the carbon emissions by increasing energy efficiency in the built environment, one of the key targets of the EU 2020 Climate and Energy Package. Developing 3D simulation models of buildings, and learning how to turn them into marketable business solutions, her research will inform the development of buildings according to potential cost, energy, and CO2 savings.

Gourav Sen

“People who are with the PhD School have an edge: we can see the bigger impact of our research.”

Gourav is involved in a project making 30kg sapphire crystals in order to cut lenses for high-powered lasers. He is currently employed by the Simap laboratory and he also works with a Grenoble-based business, RSA le Rubis SA, and hopes to start his own business developing further applications for the technology.

Mauricio Gutierrez Salas

“You gain knowledge of what’s happening in the real world, and a different perspective on engineering.”

Mauricio’s lifelong interest in the environment and sustainability has led him to a PhD where the end result will be less CO2 emissions from gas turbine engines. Funded by the Swedish Energy Agency, and working in collaboration with GKN aerospace and Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery AB, his work should lead to new, lightweight and more fuel-efficient turbine designs.

Ricardo Barbosa Vicente

“The InnoEnergy PhD School made me change the way I was looking at the market for my device.”

Ricardo is working on atmospheric water vapour processing, a way of extracting water from the air in buildings. He has created his own company to develop his prototypes further and bring them to market. His next step is to develop the concept into larger off-grid greenhouses that could solve some of the world’s water problems.