Advisory Circle

The GACC West is constantly striving to update its market knowledge and in particular to extend it to new innovative markets in the areas of IT, creative industries, renewable energies, BioTec and automotive.

With the establishment of an Advisory Circle, additional fields of competence are to be developed and made available. The Advisory Circle consists of high-ranking, well-connected experts with a profound experience in their respective business fields.

  • Automotive / Mobility
  • Logistics
  • Regional Development
  • Energy Storage
  • Renewable Energies
  • Renewable Energies
  • Innovation, Intrapreneurship & Mindset
  • Information Technologies

Automotive / Mobility

Sven Beiker
Formerly Executive Director, Center for Automotive Research at Stanford - CARS

Sven brings to the Advisory Circle his expertise of more than 20 years in the automotive field. He studied mechanical engineering / vehicle dynamics, worked in engineering and strategy at the BMW Group in Munich – Silicon Valley – Detroit, and was Executive Director for the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS) from 2008 - 2014. His mission is to address safety, pollution, and resource challenges related to the usage of personal automobiles by finding solutions in the fields of vehicle automation, communication, electrification, and commoditization.

As a member of the GACC Advisory Circle, Sven is eager to serve as the automotive / mobility expert and foster the exchange not only in the automotive field, but also more broadly in the mobility realm. He is eager to lead the dialogue around topics how we will use mobility in the future, what technology solutions we need, and which new business models are evolving.


Stefan Schaefer
CEO, expectus Inc.

Stefan has 20 years of experience in logistics and shipping. In 2000, he founded the company expectus GmbH as well as its American arm in San Francisco in 2007. expectus provides logistics services and information to European companies seeking logistics solutions for company operations within the United States. Previously, he held leading positions with well-known global players in Germany and the U.S.

Stefan is a proud member of the GACC’s Advisory Circle and is looking forward to assisting the GACC in future logistics matters. He will help complement the GACC’s services in the logistics field, an essential component of a successful market entry.

In particular, Stefan will lend his experience and knowledge of subjects such as US Customs, C-TPAT, Export License, Transportation, Warehousing, Strategic Location, Hazardous Materials, Insurance, Liability, Staffing, the FDA, the FCC, Customs Brokerage, and Packaging.

Regional Development

Dennis Conaghan
Executive Director, San Francisco Center for Economic Development

Dennis currently serves as the Executive Director at the San Francisco Center for Economic Development, where he is responsible for managing the Center’s attraction and retention programs and serves as a lead spokesperson on business trends and opportunities in San Francisco. Prior to the SFCED, Dennis served as Chief Operating Office for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, where he was charged with overseeing the marketing, membership, financial and facilities operations of the 150-year-old business-to-business organization.

Dennis’s knowledge of the San Francisco business climate makes him an excellent addition to the GACC’s Advisory Circle. Well-networked with various development agencies in the San Francisco area, Dennis will be able to provide unique and quality insight into the far corners of the economy in San Francisco and the Bay Area. This insight will greatly benefit our clients in determining the best way to enter the American market and will help build transatlantic business partnerships.

Energy Storage

Janice Lin
Founder and Managing Partner, Strategen Consulting, LLC Co-Founder, California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA)

Janice brings more than two decades of experience in clean energy strategy, market development, and corporate strategy to Strategen. During this time she has advised a diverse range of clients including renewable energy equipment manufacturers and service providers, large corporations diversifying into clean energy, and real estate developers building sustainable communities. Janice co-founded the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA) in 2009.

The California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA) is a membership-based advocacy group committed to advancing the role of energy storage in the electric power sector through policy, education, outreach, and research. CESA's mission is to make energy storage a mainstream energy resource, which accelerates the adoption of renewable energy technology and promotes a more efficient, reliable, affordable, and secure electric power system.

Currently Janice also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) and the Energy Storage Committee of Joint Venture Silicon Valley. Prior to founding Strategen in 2005, Janice held several senior management positions with PowerLight Corporation (now SunPower Corporation), including Vice President of Product Strategy and Vice President of Business Development.

Renewable Energies

Helge Biernath
President & CEO, Sunstall

Helge is the President & CEO of Sunstall, a specialized installer and service provider for ground-mounted utility-sized solar installations in North America. His company also consults clients to find optimized racking and foundation solutions. He is a mechanical engineer with over 15 years of experience in managing and growing business units in the clean tech industry in multiple countries. He has worked in the construction industry in Germany, Austria and the Ukraine, and started a solar division in Austria in 2001. As a native of Germany, he was involved in the European Construction Products Directive standardization process and the development of the European Solar market. He is a LEED AP and holds degrees in mechanical engineering and business administration.

Renewable Energies

Dirk Morbitzer
Director Strategic Sourcing – Sunrun Inc.

Following several years in public government and more than six years with the international consulting firm Accenture – where he focused on supply chain projects - Dirk started to work in the solar industry in 2004. Today he is responsible for international vendor selection, high-value contract negotiations and product quality management. During these years he has been actively involved in identifying and evaluating new technologies, emerging companies and forecasting market trends.Besides his work, he has been involved in advising financial investors into the renewable sector as well as several start-ups. Dirk co-founded the German Energy Storage Association, where he was Treasurer until 2016 and is an active Board Member of the Passau University Alumni Club.Dirk holds an MBA and in 2015 completed the Energy Innovation and Emerging Technologies Certificate at Stanford University. Dirk is interested in fostering the exchange of ideas between German and US renewable energy companies and supporting companies to understand the US / German market specifics.

Innovation, Intrapreneurship & Mindset

Dr. Mario Herger
CEO Enterprise Garage

Mario Herger is a consultant on innovation, intrapreneurship, the Silicon Valley Mindset, and gamification. After 15 years working as developer, development manager and senior innovation strategist in a range of ERP products and technologies a SAP AG and SAP Labs in Palo Alto, Mario has extensive experience in what makes innovation work, both in companies and startups. He wrote several technical books on software and gamification. His latest book is Das Silicon-Valley-Mindset: Was wir vom Innovationsweltmeister lernen und mit unseren Stärken verbinden können and describes the mindset differences between Silicon Valley and the german-speaking countries.

He is a mentor for the German Accelerator and Bootstrap Labs accelerator. He also co-organizes SiliconValley Inspiration Tours, bringing the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit closer to companies and startups. Mario came to Silicon Valley in 2001.

Information Technologies

Alexander Helmke
Director of Corporate Development and Strategy, VMware


At VMware Alex is responsible for informing the company’s investment decisions, mergers and acquisitions as well as consulting the executive staff on business strategy. Alex has nearly 20 years of experience in the IT and Telecom infrastructure industry including business development, product management and sales. Most of his career Alex spent in Silicon Valley, where he is deeply connected with the leading technology corporations, the start-up scene and venture capitalists. As a German national who studied electrical engineering at the RWTH Aachen and TU-München, Alex is very interested in fostering business relations between German and U.S. companies, as well as advising German companies on entering the U.S. market and positioning themselves. Through his responsibilities at VMware, Alex has in-depth familiarity with the established and leading edge technologies in the areas of SMB/Enterprise/Service Provider IT, datacenter infrastructure virtualization and management, private/public/hybrid cloud platforms, cloud services and applications (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS). Alex is happy to support the GACC activities in his areas of expertise and to contribute to the respective dialogue.



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