Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum: Building Innovation Economies – from Silicon Valley to the Middle East
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6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Banatao Auditorium - Sutardja Dai Hall

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6:30-7:30pm Reception
7:30-8:30pm Presentation

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Please come and join our panel of successful entrepreneurs for a look at how their success here can be used to promote the establishment of innovation economies in the Middle East, and to reverse the brain drain from the Middle East to first world countries.

Don’t miss this thought provoking and informative session!

Haas students are welcome to attend!

Featured Panelists:

Lily Sarafan – CEO of Home Care Assistance
Nikki Iravani – Inventor of EyeXam App
Bahram Bahrami – Executive Scientist & Entrepreneur



Dariush Zahedi
BIT-AMENA Center for Building Innovation Economies

Director and founder of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Since 2001, he has taught a diverse array of courses for the Departments of Political Science, Political Economy, and Peace and Conflict Studies as well as the Boalt Hall School of Law at Berkeley. Zahedi has also taught for the College of Letters and Science’s Discovery Courses Program. Teaching in the program is by invitation only, with invitations issued solely to instructors whose teaching record is stellar. He has published three books on the political economy of the Middle East, and his articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review, and Middle East Policy, among others. He is the co-editor of four book series for Palgrave Macmillan, including Institution Building in West Asia and North Africa, the Political Economy of Islam, Natural Resources Management in West Asia and North Africa, and Financial Institutions, Reforms, and Policies in West Asia and North Africa. His knowledge of the political economy and business milieu of the Middle East and North Africa, however, is not purely academic. He has worked for a Middle Eastern investment bank and Iran’s largest private mining corporation. In his capacity as an analyst for the investment bank, he traveled widely throughout the region, and became intimately familiar with various sectors of the region’s economies as well as impediments to inclusive growth and democratization. Zahedi has also worked as an academic in Turkey.



Lily Sarafan 
CEO of Home Care Assistance

Lily Sarafan is CEO of Home Care Assistance, one of the fastest-growing companies in America with more than 6000 employees across 100 markets. She is also an investor, advisor and mentor for startups and accelerators, including 500 Startups and StartX. Lily serves on the boards of several high-impact organizations including the Stanford Alumni Association, the BerkeleyHaas Center for Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East and Pars Equality Center. Lily has been recognized as one of Silicon Valley’s 40 under 40; she also holds an M.S. in Management Science and Engineering and B.S. in Science Technology and Society with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies from Stanford.

Nikki Iravani
Inventor of EyeXam App

Dr. Nikki Iravani is the inventor of the EyeXam app – the first and only patented self-administered vision screening test for mobile devices. The EyeXam app is the eye care industry’s leading app which has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times from the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Iravani, a renowned optometrist and Founder and CEO of Global EyeVentures, came up with the idea for EyeXam after listening to common vision problems. Iravani’s EyeXam app was issued a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office on January 22, 2015. The app provides free vision screening tests accompanied by a vision score, and helps users find a doctor nearby – all from the convenience of your mobile phone. Iravani graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Houston, College of Optometry. She has been recognized as one of the successful women in the optical industry and is a globally sought after industry speaker and ophthalmic consultant.

Bahram Bahrami
Executive Scientist Entrepreneur

Dr. Bahrami is an executive scientist and entrepreneur in life sciences and connected healthcare. He has played leading roles in inventing technologies, locating technical and business opportunities, and managing diverse sets of projects in academia, national lab, and industry which have led to launch and success of four startup companies. All of inventions and intelectual properties resulting from his scientific endeavors have been commercialized and led to market entry of several products with regulatory clearances. He has acted as co-inventor and scientific consultant at Novare pharmaceuticals (regenerative medicine), co-founder, co-inventor and VP of engineering at Presage Biosciences(oncology drug discovery), co-inventor at Blaze Biosciences(tumor targeting), Processing manager at SUPA (medical device), and co-founder, co-inventor, and VP of R&D at ChitoTech (healing & hemostasis). At his current role at Natera, the leader of prenatal genetic testing, he is managing oncology projects in diagnostic, recurrence, and therapy selection as a senior program manager.

Throughout his career, Dr. Bahrami has been actively engaged with fostering entrepreneurship as executive board member of Berkeley Postdoctoral Entrepreneurship Program, judge and mentor at Silicon Valley Plug and Play Tech Center, affiliate scientist and entrepreneur at Berkeley National Lab,UCSF, and Hass business school for mentorship, performing in-depth IP and technology due diligence, customer centered innovation, partnership, and analyzing commercialization activities across US academic institutes and developing a strategy for enhancing technology innovation and research commercialization. 

Expertise: Biomedical Technology Innovation and Commercialization; Operation; Leading multi-tiered programs across technology and cross-functional teams and healthcare providers; Product, Assay, and Process Development; Business and Strategy Development; Partnership; Team Skills & Communication