Digital Innovation for Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Development
5th International Conference

Solomon Assefa

VP, IBM Research - Climate & Impact Science, IBM Research - Yorktown Heights Yorktown Heights, NY USA


The world faces urgent societal, environmental, political, and economic challenges. Tackling these challenges hinges on our ability to develop fundamental innovations enabled by advances in computing technologies, break down geographic silos, and unite efforts through strong and effective international public-private partnerships. From high performance computing to AI to quantum computing and hybrid cloud platforms, technology can help answer the call to build a more prosperous and sustainable future. For example, AI and data science technologies are assisting policymaking for understanding the impact of climate change on public health, planning for food security, and addressing water scarcity. While focusing on the adoption of these technologies, it is also important to develop the future talent by investing in skills development and promoting inclusive participation globally. Dr. Solomon Assefa will discuss the vital role of science and technology as engines of sustainable global economic growth. He will also address the importance of partnerships, and participation of developing countries through open science and open technologies.


Dr. Solomon Assefa is a Vice President at IBM Research. He is directing the worldwide effort at IBM Research focused on developing technologies, platforms, and partnerships for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Under his leadership, researchers from the IBM’s global labs are innovating in areas such as accelerated material discovery for carbon capture, enterprise carbon footprint reduction, climate risk and impact, and platforms for resiliency towards extreme climate events.

Furthermore, Solomon is responsible for IBM’s research labs in Kenya and South Africa, and heads IBM’s research strategy and partnership across MEA. IBM Research is pioneering disruptive technologies that will transform industries and society, including the future of AI, hybrid cloud, and quantum computing. IBM’s Africa labs are localizing these technologies and developing scalable solutions for emerging markets in areas such as financial services, healthcare, and public sector. IBM Research Africa is playing an epicenter role in developing technologies that address Africa’s grand challenges, promoting Africa’s leadership in science and technology, and fostering local innovation ecosystems.


Early in his career, Dr Assefa was based in IBM’s iconic Yorktown Heights (NY) Research Lab, where he worked on IBM’s nanophotonics and MRAM technologies with responsibilities spanning scientific research, product development, and technology transfer. In addition, he has also co-authored over 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, has over 70 patents granted, and has appeared as a guest speaker at numerous high-profile forums and conferences worldwide, including Davos. His work has been featured in Nature magazine, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Forbes, Technology Review, EE Times, and IEEE Spectrum, among many others. He received a B.S. in Physics (2001), a B.S. in EECS (2001), a M.S. in EECS (2001) and a Ph.D. (2004) all from the MIT.

Dr. Assefa is a recipient of several technical awards including the IBM Technical Accomplishment, Corporate Recognition Award, and Invention Achievement Awards. In 2011, he was named one of the World’s Top Young Innovators under 35 (MIT Technology Review TR35 Award). He was honoured by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2013. He also received the Science & Technology Leadership Award from the Africa America Institute in 2022 for his work on climate change mitigation and adaptation. He is an Honorary Professor at University of Witwatersrand (Wits), and a member of the Industrial Advisory Board of the MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium. Dr. Assefa is a member of IBM CEO’s Acceleration Team (AT), where members of the AT are key senior executives who drive IBM’s innovation, culture, and growth strategy. Solomon can be followed on Twitter at @solo_assefa.

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