Jan Urlings - Secretary General

Jan is the Secretary General of the West Midlands Europe Hub office. In this position he is coordinating all operational activities of the office and he is responsible for the overall management of its resources. In addition, he is overseeing client relationships and promoting the strategic development of West Midlands partners at European level. The West Midlands Europe Hub office, with its conference and meeting facilities, is a showcase for the region and for businesses from the West Midlands.


He has more than 20 years in executive positions providing consulting advice and support to corporate leaders, both in manufacturing and non-profit organisations. He has an extensive background in strategic and marketing consultancy, inclusive of managing innovation and research projects, trade policy, marketing, strategic planning, project management, etc. 

Jan Urlings
Despoina Tsikoudi

Despoina Tsikoudi – EU Policy and Funding Advisor

Despoina is the European Policy and Funding Adviser for the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, and the Birmingham City Council providing tailored, strategic level EU policy, funding and profiling advice, and contributing to the delivery of Birmingham's European and International Strategy.


She has experience in working closely with local authorities, universities, ministries and other public and private stakeholders from a variety of sectors. Her professional experience includes administrative, research, project management and networking support for consultancies, universities, and regional offices covering a broad range of thematic areas.

Despoina holds a BSc in Political Science and Public Administration from the National Kapodistrian University of Athens, and a MA in European Politics from the University of Leeds.

Sophia Karner – EU Policy and Funding Advisor

Sophia is the European Advisor for the University of Warwick, responsible for providing early insights into relevant EU policy areas, engaging with Brussels-based stakeholders and contributing to the overall visibility of the university at European level.

She holds a BA in Transcultural Communication from the University of Vienna, Austria, and an MA in Intercultural Communication and Translation from the University of Surrey, UK. With a background in European project management and communications, she has a strong interest in digital communications and European politics and is fluent in German, English and French.

Sophia has experience working in close cooperation with the European Union Institutions, local and regional authorities, universities and other Brussels-based organisations on a range of policy areas. 

Sophia is also leading on all communications activities of the West Midlands Europe Hub Office.

Sophia Karner