We help to commercialize scientific advances and create value

Our team is composed of interdisciplinary individuals who are driven by their passion and curiosity for science and technology. We provide individual coaching and mentoring, as well as business development support and technical expertise. Our team's expertise in areas such as technology, finance, legal, intellectual property, and strategic consulting will ensure that innovation projects are effectively translated into businesses that benefit both business and society.

Markus Wanko

Following a career in principal investment and strategy consulting spanning almost two decades and upon returning to Austria, Markus joined ISTA to build the team that is now driving the development of xista, the ecosystem to translate scientific findings into innovative products and services. With a broad exposure to natural sciences and technology at MIT ranging from molecular biology to electrical engineering, he gained experience in venture capital investing with Safeguard Scientifics and the European Investment Fund, strategy consulting with the Boston Consulting Group, and principal investment with QIA, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. Markus is a managing partner of xista science ventures as well as MD of our science park and the tech transfer arm. He serves on the board of AUTM, the US tech transfer association, as well as Cutanos and Ribbon Biolabs.  He holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School, an MSc from TU Vienna, and an MIM from WU Vienna and HEC Paris.

Ingrid Kelly

Ingrid has a life sciences background and is our resident intellectual property expert. After completing a PhD in molecular biology at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, she started her training in patent law in London. Subsequently she assumed a number of different roles within Corporate IP at Novartis in Basel, while qualifying as a European and UK Patent Attorney. In 2012, Ingrid made a career switch into technology transfer, initially at the University of Vienna,  and later at ISTA. She is a registered technology transfer professional (RTTP). xista science ventures, xista's venture fund, welcomed Ingrid into the investment team in 2018, and promoted her to Partner in 2022. Ingrid is a member of the Board at Brainhero and also supports Brightmind.AI, G.ST Antivirals and Cutanos.

Bernhard Petermeier

Bernhard is an entrepreneur at heart with a record of accomplishments in science, business and entrepreneurship. Before joining ISTA, Bernhard co-founded a computer science spin-off from research of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and served as the company’s CEO. Prior to that, Bernhard was appointed to lead the Technology Pioneers program of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and their Global Agenda Council on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Bernhard also worked for ABB Switzerland both as a scientist and as a technology expert in their venture capital arm ABB Technology Ventures (ATV). Bernhard holds a PhD in mechatronics from Vienna University of Technology, an MBA from INSEAD, and an Executive Master in Global Leadership from WEF, where he is also a Global Leadership Fellow.

Sophie Bundle

Sophie is a versatile professional with 10 years of experience in the fields of banking, business consulting, and renewable energies. She has lived and worked in various countries including Germany, UK, US, and Bulgaria before finally settling in Austria. Sophie has also spent 5 years working in research at the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis. Additionally, she co-founded an e-commerce start-up that operated in Berlin and Munich. Sophie holds a degree in Mathematics from TU Berlin and has also been a visiting student at Cass Business School in London. At xista innovation, she serves as commercial officer being responsible for finance, project coordination and all commercial aspects of tech transfer projects.

Alexander Fischl

Alex joined ISTA in 2016. At xista innovation and xista science ventures he is responsible for all IT operations and acts as a community manager, taking care of the manifold communications channels and organizing regular events, as well as the entrepreneurship lab lecture series. In addition, he acts as an advisor for business development, startup financing, and public grants in the computer science space. After working for 8 years as a Senior Marketing and Product Manager in Austria’s B2B telco industry, he studied Business Informatics and founded his own IT consultancy. Through his consulting projects, he became deeply immersed in the Viennese startup ecosystem, successfully acquiring numerous research and go-to market project grants for several of Austria’s top-ranked IT startups. Further, he is a full-stack software engineer, having developed innovative Web applications with a focus on geographic information systems for his own startup, as well as client projects. Alex holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Business Informatics from the Vienna University of Technology, as well as an Innovation diploma supplement from the Informatics Innovation Center (i2c).

Melanie Leisser

Melanie joined ISTA in February 2020 and is responsible for all administrative and organizational matters in Executive Affairs and Technology Transfer. In this role she also supports the tenants of xista science park as well as the administration of the xista science ventures seed fund. Melanie graduated from the commercial academy in Bruck/Leitha with distinction and has 8 years of professional experience in financial administration.


Martin Hetzer

President of ISTA

Since January 2023, Martin Hetzer is President of ISTA. Hetzer received his PhD in biochemistry and genetics from the University of Vienna (Austria), and completed postdoctoral work at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). He joined the faculty at the Salk Institute in 2004 and became a full professor in 2011. He has received numerous awards, including a Pew Scholar Award, an Early Life Scientist Award from the American Society of Cell Biology, a Senior Scholar Award for Aging from the Ellison Medical Foundation, a Senior Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society, a Royal Society Research Merit Award and the Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging.

Georg Schneider

Managing Director of ISTA

Dr. Georg Schneider heads the administration of ISTA and is responsible for financial management, technical and legal matters, and human resources.

Bernd Bickel

Chairman of the Board

Bernd Bickel is a computer scientist interested in computer graphics and its overlap into animation, biomechanics, material science, and digital fabrication. The main objective of his research group is to push the boundaries of how functional digital models can be efficiently created, simulated, and reproduced

Bernd ist the Vice President of Technology Transfer at ISTA.

Monika Kircher

Board Member

Monika Kircher is an accomplished businesswoman and serves as a member of the supervisory board for several international companies, including RWE AG and Andritz AG, where she chairs the audit committees.

Her professional career spans over three decades during which she held various executive positions including CFO and CEO at Infineon Technologies Austria AG.

Monika Kircher is also involved in various social and cultural institutions. She is the Chairman of the International School Carinthia, a member of the board of trustees of ISTA and the Chairman of the board of the Kärnten Museum and the Carinthian Cultural Foundation. She holds a degree in economics from WU Vienna and the University of Mexico City and an honorary doctorate from the University of Salzburg.

Monika Kircher has received the WU Manager of the Year award in 2008 and the Grand Golden Decoration of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria.

Orin Herskowitz

Board Member

Orin Herskowitz is the Senior Vice President for Applied Innovation and Industry Partnerships for Columbia University, as well as Executive Director of Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV).

He also is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia’s Business and Engineering Schools. He has served on boards or served as the Principle Investigator for a number of innovation and entrepreneurship-focused initiatives, including the NYC Media Lab, the PowerBridgeNY clean energy proof-of-concept center, the Columbia Coulter Translational Partnership, the Academic Venture Exchange, the NYC ACRE technology incubator and Harlem Biospace.

Orin received his BA from Yale and his MBA from the Wharton School of Business. Prior to joining Columbia, Orin spent 7 years at the Boston Consulting Group's New York office as a strategy consultant and was previously an entrepreneur and a consultant to start-ups.

Rainer Reich

Board Member

Rainer Reich is a business angel and investor with an impressive career in the fields of business consulting and energy industry. He spent 15 years as a partner at Boston Consulting Group. Prior to that, he had acquired 15 years of experience in the energy sector. Rainer Reich holds degrees in law and economics from the University of Vienna and the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Europe in Bologna.