Solomon Assefa

Vice-President, IBM Research Africa

Dr. Solomon Assefa is a Vice President at IBM Research. He heads research strategy, execution, commercialization, and partnerships for Impact Science, which includes Future of Climate, Future of Work, and Future of Health. Under his leadership, researchers from IBM’s global labs are applying and advancing disruptive technologies that will transform industries and benefit society. These technologies include AI, cloud, quantum computing, and accelerated discovery. He is also directing the worldwide effort focused on developing core technologies and partnerships for climate change mitigation and adaptation. He directs scientists from IBM’s global labs who are innovating in areas such as sustainable hybrid cloud, AI-enabled material discovery for carbon capture, carbon footprint optimization, AI-driven climate risk and impact modelling to enable resiliency. Furthermore, Solomon is responsible for IBM’s research labs in Kenya and South Africa, and heads IBM’s research strategy and partnership across MEA. He is responsible for fostering local innovation ecosystems by forming new models for partnership with government, industry, academia, non-profits, and start-up companies. The labs are localizing these technologies and developing scalable (lab to market) solutions for emerging markets in areas such as financial services, telcos, healthcare, supply chain, energy and utilities, agriculture, and public sector. Previously, Dr. Assefa was the Director of Research Strategy & Growth Initiatives at IBM Research headquarters in NY. He has also served as a Program Manager in the office of Science and Technology at IBM Research headquarters, with responsibilities for evaluating science and technology roadmaps for IBM’s worldwide research laboratories. As a Research Scientist, Solomon has worked on IBM’s nanophotonics technology with responsibilities spanning research, development, and technology transfer. He has also worked on field switched and spin torque MRAM technologies. He has co-authored over 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, has over 50 patents, and has appeared as a guest speaker at numerous conferences worldwide. His work has been featured in Nature magazine, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, Forbes, Technology Review, EE Times, and IEEE Spectrum, among many others. Solomon is a recipient of several awards including Corporate Recognition Award and Invention Achievement Awards from IBM. He was named one of the World’s Top Young Innovators under 35 and received the TR35 awarded by MIT’s Technology Review (2011). Solomon was honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2013. He is an Honorary Professor at Wits in South Africa. 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 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).