Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Widely recognized as one of the first humanitarian entrepreneurs, Mikkel has started and grown multiple material science companies whose mission is to benefit humanity. He is the founder and CEO of the aerospace company Sceye, as well as the founder and owner of public health companies LifeStraw and Vestergaard. Mikkel has been recognized for his global leadership in public health innovation and sustainable business by the New York Times, The Economist, TIME magazine, and the World Economic Forum among others.
In 2014, he launched Sceye, a material science company that builds and operates a new generation of high-altitude platform stations (HAPS). Sceye’s solar-powered platforms operate in the stratosphere at 65,000 feet, delivering internet and capturing high-resolution imagery of the Earth in real time. Sceye’s impact could be transformational, with the potential to provide universal and equitable broadband access, improve climate change monitoring, and rapidly detect and respond to natural disasters.
Mikkel’s history of using science-based solutions to uplift marginalized populations began with Vestergaard, a material science company committed to public health and food security. Under his leadership, the company developed life-saving products to combat disease and malnutrition. PermaNet has produced nearly 1 billion anti-mosquito bed nets that have helped reduce global malaria deaths by more than half. ZeroFly is the first insecticide-infused storage bag to protect grains and seeds from insect infestations.
In 2005, Mikkel started LifeStraw, a company dedicated to safe drinking water. It manufactures a line of water filters that have helped to nearly eradicate Guinea worm disease. LifeStraw’s personal water filter was named TIME’s “Best Invention of the Year,” and has been used in every large-scale natural disaster over the last decade. Over 55 million people have received clean drinking water through LifeStraw’s products.
In 2008, Mikkel developed and managed the largest HIV/AIDS rapid testing campaign in the world in collaboration with leading public health organizations. A “care package” of nets, water filters and condoms coupled with awareness and advocacy campaigning is now included in new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).
He has served as an advisor to the prime minister of his native Denmark and was chosen to be a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. For his contributions to humanitarian efforts, he was honoured with the Social and Economic Innovation Award from The Economist. Mikkel was presented with the Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas, celebrated at the Danish Hero Gala in Copenhagen, and made an elder of the Luhya tribe in western Kenya, a rare and important honour for foreigners who have touched the lives of Kenyans in an extraordinary manner.
He has served on the board of directors of the Roll Back Malaria partnership, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Merck for Mothers and UN Women’s advisory board for Nordic countries. He was elected to the “Women Deliver 100” list of the most influential people contributing to the health of women and girls around the world.