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EU Prize for Women Innovators

 

Meet the 2017 finalists!

Click on any picture to see a bigger version. Watch the video clips and read the interview with each finalist to find out more about her life, work and inspiration.

Gema Climent

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Gema Climent is the founder, R&D director and the only administrator of Nesplora technology & behaviour. Nesplora is a company funded with the objective of analysing human behaviour using emerging technologies. It offers a disruptive conception of evaluating human cognition and behaviour using standardized and scientifically validated virtual reality scenarios. Nesplora has revolutionised the evaluation of behaviour and cognition, making it more scientific, functional and objective. Nesplora has received EU funding from Phase 1 and 2 of Horizon 2020's SME Instrument.

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What does the term ‘innovator’ mean to you personally?

For me, Innovation is to break new ground and create new and better ways to evaluate or understand the world around us and respond to the challenges and competitiveness that our disciplines or systems of knowledge put on us.

What advice would you give to a woman making the step from into setting up their own business?

I would say that the most important thing is to listen and talk to other women, older and wiser, for example, participating in groups of women entrepreneurs. This helps you along the way as well as being an empowering experience. It is better for me since I try to see myself easier reflected in other women rather than in men.

Have you faced any prejudice being a woman in your domain?

Curiously, although there are many more female psychologists than men, at least in Spain, nowadays men are the ones who lead the great research and influence in the behavioural sciences. With three or four exceptions, most of today's neuropsychology is men based, and the measurement of behaviour has not been renewed for many years. In the area of technology, female influence is even smaller, and we are in absolute minority.

Rather than prejudices, I have lived this experience of merging both disciplines, like an extra difficulty that I have had to overcome.

How do you manage the balance between work and family life?

Work and family life balance is not just a women's issue. I have to consider that balance many more times than I would like, but in the end, together with my partner, we manage to deal with everything.

How can Europe encourage more women innovators?

I think that through programmes such as Horizon 2020, the SME instrument and other research programs, it is possible to demonstrate the value as innovators that many entrepreneur women have. Although it’s difficult for women as it is for men, women can start to gain much more visibility to the investor and financial community and Europe can help on balancing the situation.

Young women need reference women. They do exist, there is plenty of them, but unfortunately, they are often hidden. We need more initiatives to make visibe women’s innovative work in many fields.

Is there a symbol, a proverb, a quote, an idea, that has guided you throughout your professional or private life?

I follow an idea for many years, a verse by Gabriel Bocángel in "The lyre of the muses": "And while everything is moved, only the move is firm."

Was it an easy road to arrive where you are now?

The truth is that it has not been easy and I have even had to deal with great difficulties at certain moments. To get to where we are now one must learn to develop a high tolerance to uncertainty because you never know if you are at the right time or you are three years out. Observing how the market sometimes does not respond to the hypotheses raised is very discouraging, or seeing how it is necessary to overcome innumerable problems to arrive at the desired solution and according to the market. It becomes very arduous and complicated.

However, the most difficult thing has been to open the eyes to those reluctant to change what they have always used up until now and that has been achieved by hard work and demonstrating the quality and improvement in the results offered by Nesplora to these traditional methods.

What future did you dream about when you were a child? Do you think being a woman may have pushed you in a different direction? How should we encourage young kids to become interested in science and innovation?

Suggesting them to be critical and skeptical with what they see, observe and even with what they create themselves, and if they do not like something, encouraging them to try to change it.

If you have children, what is the single most important thing you want to teach them?

Empathy, understanding the other, regardless of sex, race, age, beliefs, provenance, ability or sexual orientation, regardless of anything. We tend to insist a lot to them on this, and if they find it hard we insist again: be kind.

Are there any life events or persons who have changed your life and contributed to make you the person you are today?

Psychology is an exciting science, you look and make yourself look at yourself. Human behaviour is one of the great challenges of this century, to ask ourselves why we do what we do and how we do it. It is key for having a more humanistic and understanding perspective towards others and ourselves. The project of our company is based on all the people we have known in our lives with neurological disorders, whom many of them, have taught me the difference, sometimes subtle, of the perception of the world that people have and how we should expand our Mind to understand.

Quoting a great writer, Clarice Linspector: “Life is the same everywhere, what is needed is people who are people”.

What else is there close to your heart that you would like to share with the readers?

I think women should think bigger, because we do not usually do it. We must tell ourselves our own science fiction film and after the popcorns, we should plan with passion and long-term vision how to achieve these goals. Women can do this very well as it is one of our great and valuable resources.

In a global world, without limits and without complexes, we need to empower ourselves on creating.

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Barbara Demeneix

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Barbara Demeneix is professor of Physiology at the Natural History Museum in Paris, where she studies evolution of hormone systems. She invented and brought to market the first method for screening chemicals and environmental samples using genetically-engineered fluorescent embryos. She co-founded WatchFrog, a company marketing biological tests for screening chemicals and assessing water quality. She is active in many international committees and has been recognised for her mentoring, particularly of young women scientists (Nature Mentorship Award, 2011). WatchFrog has participated in six actions that received EU funding from the 7th Framework Programme for Research, of which two are still ongoing.

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What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?

The awareness that we had the research capacity to respond effectively to an emerging societal problem. We had developed the technology in our work on basic science and we saw the way to harness it for useful environmental and industrial applications.

What does the term ‘innovator’ mean to you personally?

Being alert to ideas and opportunities, having independence of mind and vision.

How do you manage the balance between work and family life?

With difficulty (!) but it’s doable with discipline and by deriving a sense of fun from the multiple inputs.

Is there a symbol, a proverb, a quote, an idea, that has guided you throughout your professional or private life?

For me, one of my maxims in the last couple of decades is a rather loosely translated quote from Sophocle’s Oedipus Rex: “What use is knowledge to them that know if they do not know how to use it?”

What future did you dream about when you were a child?

I dreamed that one day we would be able to understand why leaves are green, tulip petals black at the base and orange at the top, what goes on in a cat’s brain, how tadpoles become frogs and potentially even how Bach affects us emotionally. I presumed we would make good use of this knowledge.

Do you have hobbies or interests or another passion outside your work?

Music, music, music! Both as listener and player… violin started later in life, after double bass and piano as a child.

If you have children, what is the single most important thing you want to teach them?

That’s too difficult – bringing up children is such a complex, long term process built on everyday interactions. Perhaps having taught them the importance of respect for others then I would use a quote from Hamlet (Shakespeare) – “This above all, to thine own self be true …Thou canst not then be false to any man”.

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Mary Franzese

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Mary Franzese cofounded Neuron Guard, a start-up that is developing a life-saving medical device for brain damage directly at the site of the event. Having both an economic and communicative soul, she dreams of being "Chief Love Officer" of a company leader in the development of standard of care technologies for Therapeutic Temperature Management, where gender equality and the inclusion act as master. The company has received funding from the Emilia Romagna (Italian Region) Start Up Innovative fund.

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What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?

I chose to be an entrepreneur because of the need to work on something that makes me passionate and engaged about my job, allows me to be responsible for a group of people and motivate them to do their best every day to hit new milestones, and has the power of saving lives.

I love challenges and travelling, and I associate my entrepreneurship story exactly with a continuous trip around the innovation world to discover the value of introducing a disruptive medical device. What is the biggest challenge? To transform the Neuron Guard’s device in the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) of the future for the early on-site treatment of brain damages.

What advice would you give to a woman taking the step of setting up her own business?

I believe in the power of listening and sharing. I love sharing with other women – no matter what the age - my experience and helping them with my knowledge and skills in the perspective of the giveback philosophy. I consider this kind of support the best way to convince them to follow the path of setting up their own business. I also believe in the power of the community. Women should not ever feel alone in pursuing our dreams. In fact, I support networking for women entrepreneurs to enhance our role in the business environment, as I strongly believe that our contribution is extremely positive in the growth of businesses.

What does the term ‘innovator’ mean to you personally?

In my opinion, innovation stands for a continuous and improving process of opening to the outside so as to be able to make the changes needed to achieve positive, tangible and lasting impacts in people's lives. Therefore, the innovator is the person who has an attitude of readiness to change, is continuously searching for the best strategies to address needs and solve real problems. For Neuron Guard, in fact, innovation is the "Re-imagination of a care process that starts in the area and continues to the hospital with the aim to ensure the best chance of success for the patient's quality of life and survival".

Have you faced any prejudice being a woman in your domain?

I am working every day to create an environment that offers the same opportunities to women and men both within our company and in the professional contexts I meet because I have faced some prejudices, such being considered the secretary of my colleague – he is a man – perceived as “family-first committed” or “non-ambitious” due to my gender. The problem is explained by what still surprises me the most, that is either when I attend an event as speaker or I enter a room to pitch and I am surrounded by a high percentage of males or – in the worst case - don't see other women.

Is there a symbol, a proverb, a quote, an idea, that has guided you throughout your professional or private life?

I am used to defining myself as a dreamer entrepreneur because of my motto , which is “If you can dream it, you can do it” by Walt Disney. This passion for dreams started when I was young and my father told me “If you have a dream, you must never stop fighting for it”. This is what I remind myself when I feel a bit demotivated: nothing is impossible if you have the power to believe in what you are doing and make your dreams reality. Was it an easy road to arrive where you are now?

It was not an easy road but it was worth it. If I could turn back time, I would rewrite the story of my life in the same way. I made a lot of mistakes, I chose a job based on the high rewards, I worked with people who were not passionate enough about what we were doing, but I am happy to have made these kinds of mistakes because I am exactly the result of what I have done till now.

How should we encourage young kids to become interested in science and innovation?

In my opinion, first we should teach them the importance of learning, studying and listening to each other. Then, we should take part with them in events and organisations dealing with these topics. Finally, we could help them to be interested in science thanks to play, which encourages children to use their minds and keep them actively engaged.

If you have children, what is the single most important thing you want to teach them?

If I have children, I teach them to see an opportunity in everything that happens in her/his life, above all in the failures. We are humans, we will make wrong decisions in our lives, but it is fundamental to learn from mistakes and to not repeat them again.

Are there any life events or persons who have changed your life and contributed to make you the person you are today?

The person who has changed my life is my Associate and founder of Neuron Guard, Enrico Giuliani. We met each other during an accelerator program for startup. He was looking for team members and he choose me as business/communication part of the company. The program lasted three months and ended in the best way possible: I in fact became the cofounder and CMO of Neuron Guard.

What else is there close to your heart that you would like to share with the readers?

I dream to realize a company where women and men have the same opportunity. I invite all the women to believe in their dreams and be passionate about their jobs because we have the potential to realize what we believe in.

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Gemma Galdon Clavell

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Dr. Gemma Galdon Clavell is a policy analyst working on the social, ethical and legal impacts of data-intensive technologies. She is the Founder and Director of Eticas Research and Consulting, a rapidly-growing organisation with international presence that brings together social scientists, computer scientists and IT experts to tackle the challenges of the data society. Using its own Data Impact Framework, Eticas works with public and private bodies to build values into technological solutions and policies. Eticas helps clients tackle the challenges and opportunities of the data society by building values into the design process of new technologies and policies. The company has received EU funding from both Horizon 2020 and the 7th Framework Programme for Research.

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What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship chose me! I suddenly found myself with a useful research field and public and private contracts to pursue it, and decided to take on the challenge.

What advice would you give to a woman taking the step of setting up her own business?

Protect yourself and dare to be the best.

What does the term ‘innovator’ mean to you personally?

It is the basis of what I do. Working on the ethics of cutting-edge technologies and policies, my work is always a leap of faith. It starts with a (series of) hypothesis that is proven right or wrong through a series of tests, further analysis and trial-and-error processes. In the end, it is about not falling for easy answers, building complex societal frameworks of understanding and deriving needs and preferences from them. Building rigorous methods into innovation processes and gathering different perspectives around the table is what makes our work successful.

Was the research and innovation funding helpful to you?

Very. Long-term research projects and collaboration with a wide array of partners helped me understand what I had to offer and frame it as a useful service and a fruitful business model. It also allowed me to offer good working conditions and build a healthy work environment.

Have you faced any prejudice being a woman in your domain?

Every day. Both my gender and my age mean that I have to fight for recognition and justify myself every single day. I feel equal to anyone else, but I realise how I am not seen as equal by many. I have struggled to create a mixed working environment where women working with me don’t have to face this to the same degree.

How do you manage the balance between work and family life?

It’s not easy. My personal life used to come after I had finished everything else. Recently I’ve been trying to change that, I’ve learned to say ‘no’ and sometimes I give up on business opportunities to have a life. One of the good sides of success is that you don’t feel like you have to be everywhere all the time and invest in every possible scenario –which has helped me strike a better work/life balance.

How can Europe encourage more women innovators?

Maybe by supporting us to gain visibility. As a woman I personally have faced a high level of distrust for my work and success. It’s like nobody will promote you or help you because they do not believe you have a strong business model. Therefore, you only get visibility once you’ve achieved it yourself, but those early times can make you or break you. Support in the early stages is crucial to help us hang on in there.

Is there a symbol, a proverb, a quote, an idea, that has guided you throughout your professional or private life?

‘We are all smart here, distinguish yourself by being kind’

Was it an easy road to arrive where you are now?

Not at all. I find myself refusing to think whether it has been worth it as I fear what the result may be. Business success is good financially, but I have never been driven by money, so sometimes I do wonder whether I’d be happier behind the scenes and not at the forefront.

How should we encourage young kids to become interested in science and innovation?

Because there is nothing better than to solve real problems that nobody has managed to solve yet! Curiosity is the greatest gift.

What would you do differently if you could turn back time and start all over again with your company?

I would have chosen better who to trust.

Do you have hobbies or interests or another passion outside your work?

My family and friends, mostly. I am also a regular commentator on TV and print media, which is another way of striving for impact that I really enjoy (even if the level of exposure can sometimes affect my ability to lead a private life).

If you have children, what is the single most important thing you want to teach them?

I don’t have my own children, but I have many children around me and I make an effort to be around people of all ages. The single most important thing I try to teach them is to be good human beings and to think independently and critically.

Are there any life events or persons who have changed your life and contributed to make you the person you are today?

My mum had me when she was 14 years old, and this has had a huge impact on my life, at all levels. It has given me a very powerful and incredibly strong role model, but also made me face bullying and an inescapable feeling of being 'different' for reasons beyond my control. Dealing with this combination of potential and pain has certainly shaped my life and character.

What else is there close to your heart that you would like to share with the readers?

Choose cooperation over competition every day. It pays at all levels.

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Claudia Gärtner

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Dr. Claudia Gärtner is a Founder of microfluidic ChipShop in Jena, Germany. Microfluidics or “lab-on-a-chip” systems are considered to be the enabling tool for a novel approach to analytics and diagnostics, enabling the production of a wide range of tailored-made products and on-chip applications. In 2002 she was nominated for the German Founders Prize and received the Thuringian award for the best business concept for ChipShop. She leads a wide variety of research projects for the development of lab-on-a-chip systems for life science applications. Microfluidic ChipShop coordinated the EU-funded Multisense Chip project funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research.

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What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?

It has always been self-evident that I will be an entrepreneur and head my own company. I grew up in the entrepreneurial environment of my parents’ companies, being in contact with our customers from kindergarden age on, starting book-keeping at primary school level and being allowed to negotiate with partners during my secondary school and university time, which I enjoyed very much. Having the appreciation of partners although being a young girl was a brilliant and inspiring experience. Reflecting my career, I never chose to become an entrepreneur, I had always been one before even thinking about it.

One major driver was to see that my father loved being an entrepreneur with the great fun of being responsible for his own decisions and their results, which gave me the obvious feeling to manage and enjoy this role in the same manner.

In addition to being an entrepreneur in general, I wanted to create goods that are of important use for us human beings and to have a sustainable impact with what I am doing. This can be clearly reached best with one's own company.

School infected me with a slight passion for science. Seeing the fascinating changes in particular in the life sciences at those times inspired me to follow-up and achieve innovations through making new technologies and products happen. Studying chemistry and biology gave me a perfect background for a science career, not necessarily for being an entrepreneur what gave me some headaches. But my entrepreneurial background from my parents brought me, after finishing my studies and working at leading scientific institutes, to where I wanted to be: with my own company in a multidisciplinary high-tech field covering life sciences, engineering, optics and a lot of enthusiasm in international surroundings.

What advice would you give to a woman taking the step of setting up her own business?

Being a women or a man does not make a difference. You simply need to enjoy both the freedom and the responsibilities of being self-employed, and you also need to be prepared for virtually no spare-time and little sleep. It is important to consciously decide about this step and to define your own goals, not forgetting the private life that might get compromised. Partnering with somebody sharing your own mind-set should be considered.

What does the term ‘innovator’ mean to you personally?

My own INNOVATOR perspective is to create new things for people to use as my major demand, to bring them successfully onto the market and create commercial prosperity for my company microfluidic ChipShop for the benefit of my team and our customers.

Was the research and innovation funding helpful to you?

The EU funding as well as national funding gave us a great support on several levels: funding development, enabling a European network of excellence in the R&D projects and supporting the international awareness of the results through fostering participation in conferences and exhibitions. These projects enabled us to have a huge product and technology portfolio, being internationally well established and finally having the company shares besides a minor fraction in the founders’ hands.

Have you faced prejudice being a woman in your domain?

I never felt underprivileged as a woman, neither as a researcher nor as an entrepreneur, and it's important to stress, that I find myself in engineering and science. In the male dominated high-tech field in an interdisciplinary area of science and engineering women are much more conspicuous than men – the same is valid for the few female students in chemistry. Sometimes this gives pros, sometimes cons but I never experienced prejudice against me as a woman.

How do you manage the balance between work and family life?

Awfully bad. I always try to arrange for more spare time for my family in particular my quickly growing kids. One part is to ensure quality time with my kids, having common hobbies like horse-back riding, skiing, fashion or lying at the beach – whilst my husband can go hiking.

This is definitely one of my major goals to improve this, 2016 has been so far a disaster in managing this task: every time I hired a new co-worker another one got pregnant and I had to step in for her tasks.

In summary, I have to work hard on this issue.

How can Europe encourage more women innovators?

Europe needs more innovators – independently of whether they are male or female. This can be ensured by dedicated funding for creating spin-offs: programmes for direct funding should be combined with the provision of IP generated by these people at their universities and institutes from these institutions for free! Making an invention an innovation is a long and tough path with a lot personal risk and effort. We should appreciate this much more as well with funding policies including IP which was paid for by funded research projects in any case.

Getting more women specifically, interestingly I see a much higher appreciation of having the power – meaning shares of the company – in own hands by women compared to acquiring venture capital. Starting smaller but growing sustainably. Quickly available but moderate starting grants to bridge the first two years, maybe combined with free access to some work space would significantly lower the entrance barrier and finally give Europe more female entrepreneurs.

Was it an easy road to arrive where you are now?

I would always say that so far it was easy, but a lot of work and many sleepless nights. And beyond this, microfluidic ChipShop is still far from where it one day will be – but on the right track.

What future did you dream about when you were a child?

I wanted to be an entrepreneur and a turner master as my dad, alternatively a veterinarian or later on a biochemist. Obviously, I wanted to have kids, at least four, preferably two times twins. In addition, plenty of animals were on my wish list. The reality check is not too bad: my own company somewhere between engineering and life sciences, three kids, one pony, five rabbits, soon once again a goat, and a couple of fish.

How should we encourage young kids to become interested in science and innovation?

Science and innovation need to get a “sex appeal”. The NERD sitting alone at the back of the room does not have it, maybe a little more Star Trek enterprise with Mr. Spock and the Tricorder or Matt Damon in The Martian surviving on Mars because he is a scientist. Finally, also by demonstrating that you can earn money by being a scientist and making innovation happen.

As a small company, we try to do our best to make kids fascinated by science and innovation: having our annual summer school as a combination of microfluidics with English lessons, regular training for school kids or a planned exchange with leading Brazilian research institutions for school kids to get them involved both in science and in entrepreneurial activity.

What would you do differently if you could turn back time and start all over again with your company?

Managing growth is a surprising challenge despite everybody telling you this story and in particular one's own changing position. My challenge is to grow and build a team covering technological excellence, inspiring together people with a leadership and entrepreneurial spirit to create sustainable growth in the company, and getting myself less involved. If I would turn back, I would clearly start in a much more intense way to develop my personal back-up to on the one-hand make the company independent from myself and secondly to personally have something that is called spare time.

Besides this, there are innumerable decisions I would take today in a different manner, but this is what I call “experience” and would not be a personal goal changer for myself.

Do you have hobbies or interests or another passion outside your work?

Two main passions fill up immediately 24 hours seven days week: having three kids and a fascinating job. Neglected hobbies are horse-back riding, skiing, skating, breeding all kinds of animals, reading, fashion and plenty of other interests which have no room in the daily schedule.

If you have children, what is the single most important thing you want to teach them?

You need to love your life and what you are doing: it is up to you to make the choice – but you have to work for it.

Are there any life events or persons who have changed your life and contributed to make you the person you are today?

The ones who made me the person I am are clearly my parents. My father always enjoys what he does: His work, doing great things with me and now with my kids – his glass has always been half-full. He was offered retirement at the age of 20 and now aged 76 he is still entrepreneur with a lot of energy. He always gave me the confidence to be able to reach my goals whatever I want – it is simply in my own hands.

What else is there close to your heart that you would like to share with the readers?

I am really an enthusiastic European. It is so great that we can go wherever we like in Europe, meet people, work together and even have this wonderful exchange within European projects. Being in the different European countries and meeting will so many people, seeing a common mind-stream, the appreciation of the European idea and feeling as European is great. It is such an important achievement to have Europe and my wish is that all of us stand in to get Europe even closer together.

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África González Fernández

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Prof. África González Fernández is a full professor in Immunology and Director of the Biomedical Research Center (CINBIO) at the University of Vigo in Spain. She is also co-founder of the company NanoImmunoTech, the first European company dealing with biomedical characterisation and synthesis of nanomaterials, bioconjugation and biosensing. NanoImmunoTech has received EU funding under Phase 1 and 2 of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, to develop the Heatsens technology.



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What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?

It was a sum of factors, having been a partner of different scientific projects, meeting people there that had started companies, and my experience in immunology. I realised that my expertise could be useful in a wide market of Nanotechnology with unmet needs, in the fields of bioconjugation and nanotoxicology, and decided to give a try, with the help of collaborators. I followed what Santiago Ramón y Cajal, one of our Spanish Nobel prize winners, said: “Ideas do not last long. You have to do something with them”.

What advice would you give to a woman taking the step of setting up her own business?

First and foremost, to have passion for an idea, then to look around to see if someone else has already developed it right, and not forgetting about the money you might need. In other words: to believe in the “business and innovative idea”, analyse deeply the market and interact with experts to look for feedback.

What does the term ‘innovator’ mean to you personally?

I believe an innovator focus more in practical life, in what society may need, and occasionally, make a profit on it. I believe I am more focused than a conventional professor or scientist. At the end, it is like Edison saying: “Genius/Innovation is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration”.

Was the research and innovation funding helpful to you?

Yes, very much so. Funding is crucial in research, for developing ideas and experiments, and it gives you the knowledge and expertise, the state of the art of your research subject, and eventually how it can be applied.

Have you faced any prejudice being a woman in your domain?

Not really. Sometimes you may feel underestimated, but disillusion and demotivation may happen anytime to anyone, not specifically to women.

How do you manage the balance between work and family life?

I think I’ve done quite well, but I should say that my husband has been always on my side taking care and helping me in all these aspects. My sons have also helped me in this balance.

How can Europe encourage more women innovators?

Well, maybe innovation is in the genes… maybe there are natural-born innovators whatever the gender. Some positive discrimination in R+D+i projects, under equal quality, might help. Having said that, incentives like this prize are important to give us motivation and visibility, and it is encouraging in itself.

Is there a symbol, a proverb, a quote, an idea, that has guided you throughout your professional or private life?

Just one word, persevere. My quote is: “persevere and you will get it”.

Was it an easy road to arrive where you are now?

Not really, it has been hard.

My family comes from a low-middle class background, and my brothers and I were the first to attend university. When studying for my medical degree, my father died, and it was not easy financially at home (four children, one of them suffering from a rare disease). We needed and used fellowships for studying, so we had to do an extra-effort to reduce the cost of living. This situation made us stronger for life.

I really appreciate that the education received at home was pretty similar for all of us, independently of our gender, and our effort was always valued.

What future did you dream about when you were a child?

It is quite similar to what I have obtained now. I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to supervise people, to take decisions, to be creative.

Do you think being a woman may have pushed you in a different direction?

No, I have done whatever I have considered right, independently of my gender condition.

How should we encourage young kids to become interested in science and innovation?

Reading appropriate books about science, how exciting it is to find new things, to get to know things. Taking them to the laboratory, explaining how many companies started and how they have evolved.

I remember my old mentor, Cesar Milstein (Nobel prize winner), talking about a book about microbes (“Cazadores de microbios, Paul de Kruif) that awakened his interest in science, and spelling out the key word for scientists and innovators, “curiosity”. Kids have plenty, so it should happen naturally.

What would you do differently if you could turn back time and start all over again with your company?

Not many things. The company has existed for only a short period; honestly, it has performed better than expected for a biotechnology company, so far; at the same time, we are still thriving for a blast with the new products.

Do you have hobbies or interests or another passion outside your work?

Well, nothing peculiar I’m afraid. I am a very social person, and love to go out with friends. I try to play padel (similar to tennis) and tennis. I go often to listen classical music and to the cinema. I have a subscription to listen to Galician orchestras, which are quite good by the way.

If you have children, what is the single most important thing you want to teach them?

I have two sons and I am always telling them: Try to be the best in everything you do.

Like in sports, practice hard to be fit, and later play the game. You may win or not, but you worked hard for it. It is both aptitude and attitude; talent and will; one is given, the other we put in ourselves.

Are there any life events or persons who have changed your life and contributed to make you the person you are today?

My parents did their job. Obviously, at a professional level, Cesar Milstein's curiosity and passion for Science did his mark. I also have to say that my husband (Esteban) and sons (Ricardo and Alberto) brought to me balance and daily support.

What else is there close to your heart that you would like to share with the readers?

My father insisted that I should study Medicine. At that time my youngest sister was diagnosed of a rare disease. I could not save her, but I could do something for other people.

My mother, a widow at the age of 48 with 4 children, an example of strength, patience and positivity. Her motto is: Do me a favour, be happy!.

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Michela Magas

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Michela Magas is the founder of Stromatolite, a Design Innovation Lab that has built the Music Tech Fest platform - one of the first real Innovation Ecosystems with a community of over 5000 innovators. With this Michela has established a unique innovation ecosystem, policy context and support structure for radical and disruptive innovation by a wide community of creative developers. Rather than taking a single product to market, her ecosystem has yielded multiple innovative products and services enabled by her ideas of Open Product, Market Adoption, and Innovation IP, creating a fast track to innovation. Stromatolite has participated in four projects funded by Horizon 2020 and the 7th Framework Programme for Research, coordinating two of them.

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What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?

There are things I want to create or make possible in the world that simply cannot be achieved in the context of conventional employment. The process of (re)invention starts from the ground up. I like to question how something is organised; what are the guiding principles; do they still reflect the state of technological progress; do they still fulfil their social obligation? Most traditional employment requires a narrow view, one that fits neatly into a slot and follows a linear progression without questioning its foundations. I find that real solutions to challenges often require a rethinking of the supporting structures, which may be perceived as disruptive by conventional standards. Becoming an entrepreneur is the result of this quest to find truly useful solutions from the ground up.

What advice would you give to a woman taking the step of setting up her own business?

Go for it! We need more of the female perspective reflected in our everyday business practices. Countries which insist on 50/50 female/male Steering Boards have registered greater prosperity as a result.

What does the term ‘innovator’ mean to you personally?

An innovator is traditionally someone driven by solutions to challenges, or by curiosity and discovery. It can be someone who imagines the world to be different and sets out to create that difference, or someone who experiments and discovers a different world. Both bring together creativity and science, and in today’s society neither can operate entirely alone. For me personally, an innovator is someone who knows how to join the dots between knowledge from different fields of research and industry, and a variety of cultural viewpoints. It is at the intersection of worlds that we currently find the most promising scenarios, and through knowledge collisions that we discover the best solutions.

Was the research and innovation funding helpful to you?

Radical ideas require validation before they can seek traditional funding. Where ideas are potentially disruptive, they can find resistance from investors because of the high level of risk attached and lack of clear business models upfront. EU research and innovation funding is uniquely placed to support highly risky but potentially game-changing initiatives. Especially where the social impact is notable, the EU funding can afford to take the long-term view and measure the impact beyond immediate income potential. For all these reasons the EU funding was an essential enabler for our initiatives.

Have you faced any prejudice being a woman in your domain?

I was once asked by a male professor in front of a large auditorium of hundreds of students, how did I feel about being a woman designer and entrepreneur - did I feel equal to men? I answered: “With no disrespect, I do not wish to be anything like you. I believe I bring a lot more to the table by offering a woman’s perspective.” An entrepreneur is a state of mind, not a gender.

How can Europe encourage more women innovators?

Our tests show that by opening challenges to creativity and experimentation we get a much better gender balance. We have a clear 50/50 gender split across our children’s workshops, as well as in our creative laboratories for professionals of all backgrounds. We have reached 33% female innovators in our industry testbeds.

Is there a symbol, a proverb, a quote, an idea, that has guided you throughout your professional or private life?

Since my early studies, back in 1990, I had Michael Faraday’s “All this is a dream – still examine it with a few experiments” pinned up on my desk. It has never failed me. The Dennis Gabor quote “The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented” and the later version by Alan Kay “The best way to predict the future is to invent it” has become the motto of our community.

Was it an easy road to arrive where you are now?

I haven’t ‘arrived’ yet - I am still on a journey. It has never been an easy road, there have always been great obstacles and I am still experiencing many of those, but it is a tremendously rewarding journey when you are travelling in the company of a community of brilliant and intelligent people.

What future did you dream about when you were a child?

From a very early age, I was always inspired and fascinated by those people who received the Nobel Peace Prize. It seemed grandiose and far-fetched within the context I was living in at that time, growing up in what was then a restricted, and severely troubled country, about to embark into a war. I was mocked for being a child with big ambitions, but I wanted to be the sort of person who can make a positive impact of that kind.

How should we encourage young kids to become interested in science and innovation?

What we should be encouraging above anything else is the spirit of experimentation, in both the arts and the sciences. There are many ways in which children can meaningfully express themselves. Currently we are focusing almost exclusively on the written word, but modern technology offers children many useful methods of expression that can bridge language barriers and social divides. We need to allow and encourage them to create their own language and expression by discovering their own methods and building their own tools. In order to achieve this, just as with sport, children need some equipment, a place to play and some supportive coaching. With the help of wonderful coaches and role models from our community, parents tell us that their children have become ‘hooked for life’ on science, engineering and creative experimentation.

Are there any life events or persons who have changed your life and contributed to make you the person you are today?

All of the places and people around us make us who we are. I came from a place which is at the crossroads of several European cultures, and from a very early age learnt how to bridge between them. I also witnessed the horrors of civilian conflict and what fear of the unknown can do even to the most educated minds. It often takes just one person to have the courage to create a space where people can "suspend disbelief" and come to a place of common understanding, and this often happens through the arts. For us music has become the social glue - it attracts people from all cultural, intellectual and social backgrounds. It enables them to experiment freely with technology on neutral ground without the pressures of peer reviews or restrictions of jargon. Instead they become fascinated by the other's knowledge and form strong, long-term bonds which allow them to combine disparate fields of knowledge to solve complex challenges. This not only serves to prevent future conflicts but the resulting innovations also make sound economic sense.

What else is there close to your heart that you would like to share with the readers?

Conflict resolution and economic advancement thorough innovation go hand in hand. Where fear is used to drive profits, this usually creates a short term cash injection, but long-term leaves entire nations poorer. Creating new ways to communicate and exchange knowledge is one of the most effective ways to enrich cultures and advance economies. We have witnessed entirely new methods of communication in our testbeds. The written word is a wonderful "method of translation" for ideas popularised by the technological invention of the printing press, but also presents cross-cultural challenges. New technologies allow us to rely less on the written word and more on gesture and signalling, the way that children do. A new kind of intelligent communication medium will emerge from this world (imagine it as a new kind of "Twitter"), and when it does, you will want to invest in it.

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Kamila Markram

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Dr Kamila Markram is a neuroscientist at the EPFL and the co-founder and CEO of Frontiers, one of the largest and most impactful Open Access publishers in the world. Frontiers is a digital-age scholarly publishing company with a mission to bring Open Access publishing and Open Science IT solutions to academics and the general public. In 2014, Frontiers received the ALPSP Gold Award for Innovation in Publishing. In 2016, Kamila was named a L’Hebdo Forum 100 personality, a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and recipient of the Gold Stevie Award for Women in Business. Frontiers has taken part in one project funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research, and is currently participating in two projects funded by Horizon 2020.

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What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?

As a young scientist, I was very surprised to learn just how inaccessible science knowledge was and how non-transparent and inefficient the process of reviewing, publishing, evaluating and disseminating science was. Science is the motor of the world and I strongly felt that the world needs quick and efficient access to all science. Today, science builds on science, so the more open it is, the more we can innovate, invent and find solutions to the challenges we face in the 21st century. I had to do something. We completely revamped the system and built online technology to make peer-review much more transparent, constructive, accountable and efficient. We also designed a publishing model where science can be disseminated freely and described more simply for the general public and even children, because the future is in their hands.

What advice would you give to a woman taking the step of setting up her own business?

There are a lot of myths around start-ups. I find that it takes deep passion, perseverance and hard work, because success starts with people who really care about what they do. Business processes come naturally when you know clearly what you want to achieve and why.

What does the term ‘innovator’ mean to you personally?

I appreciate innovators in all their forms. Innovation can come as an incremental improvement to an established process, that saves time. This is very valuable. Then there is disruptive innovation, that overhauls established processes and puts something new in their place. Disruption is what usually gets all the attention and often drives humanity forward. At Frontiers, we embrace both these forms of innovation. We were disruptive to the publishing industry by making science articles openly available and peer-review transparent and we try to keep disrupting ourselves by experimenting with new Open Science tools and above all, we obsessively keep on improving and innovating on established processes.

How do you manage the balance between work and family life?

With 2 little children, this is of course a challenge. But, it is team work after all, my husband and 3 grown-up step-children are essential in running a smooth family operation. My success becomes the family’s success – they see the example and feel the excitement of succeeding to make something grow, of realizing one’s dreams. I prioritise a lot of time for the children when I go home and while on vacation and that helps me keep a well-balanced approach at work as well.

How can Europe encourage more women innovators?

Entrepreneurs and their teams are more productive and more likely to innovate when their children are happy! Therefore, the most important aspect is to ensure we care very much about the convenience and quality of kindergartens and schools. Teachers and educators need to be supported and appreciated as one of the most important professional groups of our society. After all, they - together with the parents - lay the foundations of empowered and mindful members of society, workers, leaders and innovators. We also need to work on stereotypes. It should be accepted for men and women alike to take parental leave and to pursue full working lives.

Is there a symbol, a proverb, a quote, an idea, that has guided you throughout your professional or private life?

Don’t be afraid to dream! Dream big and aim high. You may not end up where you aimed for, but it is still far further than without dreams. Don’t be afraid of failure! It takes many attempts to get it right. I like Henry Ford’s quote: “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Was it an easy road to arrive where you are now?

It’s never easy. Everything in life takes 99% hard work, determination and perseverance, 1% luck.

What future did you dream about when you were a child?

When I was a kid, I dreamt of becoming an astronaut and exploring planets. The older I get, the more important it becomes for me to preserve the planet on which we live for future generations. My contribution is through our work at Frontiers - making science quickly and openly available to all, so that innovators anywhere in the world can more quickly come up with new ways to generate energy or improve health and well-being standards.

How should we encourage young kids to become interested in science and innovation?

We can encourage young kids to become interested in science and innovation by involving them in the process from a young age, taking them seriously and making it fun for them. After all: today’s science is yesterday’s magic.

Personally, I make a very conscious effort to discuss with my children, including my 5-year-old and my 3-year-old, what’s going on in the brain when they are angry or happy, why it is important to sleep or why it’s not good for their brains to watch TV. There are many opportunities for some science magic.

With ‘Frontiers for Young Minds’, we started a science journal for kids, where children can discuss cutting-edge science with real scientists and give them feedback on their papers. It’s empowering and fun for kids and scientists alike.

Do you have hobbies or interests or another passion outside your work?

Working and raising kids takes up most of my time, but I love to read - currently anything on sustainability. I am convinced that science can provide the solutions and Open Science is the highway to enable and accelerate these solutions.

If you have children, what is the single most important thing you want to teach them?

Science provides explanations to the world around us and ethics provides us values so we can use this knowledge wisely for the good of all. Learn, practice in abundance and be mindful towards others and the planet. Nothing comes easy in life, whatever looks beautiful, simple or effortless, took a lot of work to be done.

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Sandra Rey

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Sandra Rey is a passionate and imaginative entrepreneur, who mastered in industrial designand social entrepreneurship. She has always been surrounded by innovation and the future, leading her to participate into a student contest about synthetic biology. It was watching a TV programme about deep-sea bioluminescent creatures that she had the idea to use those super-powers to revolutionise the way we illuminate our cities, keeping an optimistic but realistic vision on the mutation of energy models for tomorrow. Sandra co-founded Glowee which develops a biological lighting system that works thanks to the natural properties of bacteria to revolutionise the way we produce, consume and illuminate. Glowee has received funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) InnoEnergy programme.

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What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?

Becoming an entrepreneur was not really a choice but more of an opportunity. I had the chance to participate in a student contest, leading me to imagine the Glowee concept. Positive media coverage and seeing people’s interest in the project on winning the contest convinced me that I should at least try to do a first proof of concept and create a startup.

That’s what I did and two years later, I am very proud to have become an entrepreneur with a great team of 15 wonderful and passionate people.

What does the term ‘innovator’ mean to you personally?

To me, innovation is a way of thinking out of the box. It is a way of always questioning yourself and the “why” of everything. But most of all, an innovator has to be passionate to get all the energy needed to change the way things are.

Have you faced any prejudice being a woman in your domain? Do you think being a woman may have pushed you in a different direction?

Actually, I think that being a woman helped me arrive where I am. As we are still few women in the field of biotechnology and technological innovation, you are very easily noticed and remembered. I had a lot of help through women's networks and awards and I am sure I wouldn’t be here if I were a man. The prejudice was more about the credibility that I had to acquire as a very young designer leading a biotechnology company. The recognition of the MIT Technology Review helped me win this.

How do you manage the balance between work and family life?

At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, there was no frontier between my personal and professional life. The hard part was that I was alone and had the impression that if I stopped working for a day, my company would die. Now that I have a lot of support and trust from my team, I've learned how to give my brain a break after leaving the office and take holidays. I also avoid taking my work problems back home with me, and mostly share the good news.

How can Europe encourage more women innovators?

I think that a huge help for innovators needs to come on the regulatory side, as disruption means regulatory issues. Special support from Europe for innovative entrepreneurs on that front could be very helpful.

Is there a symbol, a proverb, a quote, an idea, that has guided you throughout your professional or private life?

I love to tell my team that we should “Save all energies but ours to change the way things are”.

Was it an easy road to arrive where you are now?

It is not an easy road, but it is an obvious road when you are passionate about the adventure you are living and the great feeling of achievement that I feel when I look at my team and all that we successfully did in only two years. I like to say that I have the feeling that my work day is a succession of boring little tasks and problem solving moments, but at the end of the day, I still feel great and proud, which is more than enough to keep on going!

How should we encourage young kids to become interested in science and innovation?

To help kids to become innovators, I think we should teach them design-oriented thinking from the youngest age. If everybody naturally adopted a user-centred way of thinking, our world would be better for sure.

What would you do differently if you could turn back time and start all over again with your company?

All the mistakes I made were due to a lack of knowledge and the fact that this experience is of course my first entrepreneurial experience. I consider them as a kind of accelerated training, so I will probably avoid making them in my next company, but I’m quite happy to have learned so many things in a short time.

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Isabel Trillas Gay

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Isabel Trillas Gay is full Professor at the Faculty of Biology, Universitat de Barcelona and has co-founded the spin-off Biocontrol Technologies, S.L. for the development (from the isolation to market) of her discovery, a pesticide based on the natural microorganism, Trichoderma asperellum strain T34, to control crop diseases. In Biocontrol Technologies she is partner, member of the direction committee and Scientific Adviser. In 2016 the company was awarded a Seal of Excellence under Horizon 2020's SME Instrument Phase I.

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What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?

I became an entrepreneur because at the time of developing the product people were unconvinced that biological products would be able to replace chemicals. I realised that the best choice to ensure our discovery would reach the market was to develop it by ourselves, and then I set up a team with two other university professors with complementary knowledge and with young students, most of them former PhD students.

What advice would you give to a woman taking the step of setting up her own business?

I would encourage other women to believe in your own potential, not be shy, fight for what you believe in, not be afraid of change and to surround yourself with other key people. I would advise other women scientists to go further, not to rely only on peer review publications; beyond scientific publications and patents, there is industrial secrecy. You feel great when you see that years of research become a product in the market that improves other people's lives.

What does the term “innovator” mean to you personally?

Doing research and teaching biology in a university gives you a privileged position in society; you are at the forefront of scientific knowledge and surrounded by the best students. Innovation is constantly integrated into your research, teaching and the world around you - agriculture in my case - which makes you envisage things differently and want to change them, or try to. Being an innovator is an attitude.

Was the research and innovation funding helpful to you?

Biocontrol Technologies received national awards, different national loans for biotech companies and grants to hire graduate and PhD staff. We have participated in and received funding for different Spanish and UK projects. In Horizon 2020, we were finalists (2014) in the “Sunrise” application and we got the Seal of Excellence in 2016 under the SME Instrument Phase I.

Have you faced any prejudice being a woman in your domain?

As a female leader I did not face any real prejudice and any small setbacks/ negativity galvanised me further and spurred me on.

How do you manage the balance between work and family life?

I feel I managed it with enthusiasm. A comment from my daughter made me see that the bio-pesticide has been like the third child in my family, as they became really involved in the project.

How can Europe encourage more women innovators?

To me education is a key issue, at different levels of society and from the very beginning, but practical support is also needed. In our case, the lengthy EU regulatory process causes many projects to fail. I'm not saying the process is not necessary, on the contrary it is essential, but it should be easier. People think Europe is a single market but in reality it's not. Europe must do things more simply and faster, avoiding the barriers of each EU Member State.

Is there a symbol, a proverb, a quote, an idea, that has guided you throughout your professional or private life?

When I got my first scholarships I remember a conversation with my mother and I told her how lucky I was and she answered me that I would be very unlucky not getting it after all the enthusiasm and hard work I was putting into it. This conversation has come to my mind several times and guided me: enthusiasm, determination, perseverance and hard work.

Was it an easy road to arrive where you are now?

No, not at all, it has not been a straight path, but overall it was very challenging and creative. However, I am impatient to raise money for more developments and make the company grow and succeed.

What future did you dream about when you were a child?

I dreamed of becoming a teacher and at university I was interested in research on plants and microorganisms. I could probably work with other aspects of plant physiology but I focused on plant diseases and alternatives to the harmful effects (on consumers, farmers and the environment) of chemical control. With the new bio-pesticide we developed, we contributed to having “greener” and healthy food.

Do you think being a woman may have pushed you in a different direction?

No, very probably not, I am not an easy person to convince; on the contrary I am always quite sure about what to do.

How should we encourage young kids to become interested in science and innovation?

Strongly embed science and entrepreneurship into society: school talks, TV programmes, children's stories, knowledge of someone close (from your culture, in your neighbourhood, etc). Modifying some of society's values not only towards children but also in young people, educators and parents.

We need to spread past experiences that have succeeded, but also the failures that fed this knowledge in to new projects.

What would you do differently if you could turn back time and start all over again with your company?

I would focus on getting more financial resources.

Do you have hobbies or interests or another passion outside your work?

I really love to be with my family and my close friends. I like to walk mainly in the mountains and skiing. I also like very much attending weekly patchworking classes.

If you have children, what is the single most important thing you want to teach them?

To my children and to my students, that you need to build your own work every day and I add that this is not contradictory with teaching at the university (working for the government). I try in my conversations with “all my children” beside technical and scientific skills, to help them to build their own jobs. Now, but also when I was young, we have high unemployment among young people and my advice is that you need to generate your own work and benefits linked to it or prove to others the benefits of hiring you.

Are there any life events or persons who have changed your life and contributed to make you the person you are today?

Thinking about this question, I believe that Prof. Jordi Aguilar, an enterprising person with a broad and ambitious vision played an important role and also Prof. Harry Hoitink maximized my interest in biological control.

What else is there close to your heart that you would like to share with the readers?

The support of my family, without their complicity things would have been more difficult.

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Kristina Tsvetanova

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Kristina Tsvetanova is the co-founder and CEO of BLITAB Technology GmbH- the World's Most Creative Start-up 2015 and European Winner of Social Entrepreneurship and Disability. She is the co-inventor of the award-winning innovation BLITAB®- the first tactile tablet for blind and visually Impaired people. Thanks to the international recognition that she has received in Europe, USA, Mexico, Singapore, China and Japan in the last two years, and her persistance in empowering unprivileged children via technology, she was named as one of the "Social Movers" of today by Agora+D in 2015. Blitab has received EU funding from the 7th Framework Programme for Research's CREATI-FI calls

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What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?

I grew up in an entrepreneurial family in Bulgaria but I never thought that I could be an entrepreneur myself. During my last year at the Technical University in Sofia, working already as a Supply Chain expert for an international bottling company, I got an idea that needed the right location to become reality. That’s how, driven by my ambition, I quit my job and followed my passion. I moved to Austria and started BLITAB – a venture with social impact that empowers blind users.

What advice would you give to a woman taking the step of setting up her own business?

Don’t think too hard when making the decision to start a business. It might work out and you will be satisfied, or it might not work out and you will always be able to continue what you were already doing, it's no big deal. I am glad that I took this risk at the time when I did not have any children, liabilities or something else. If you want to live independently, you should be a businesswoman and take control of your own life.

What does the term ‘innovator’ mean to you personally?

An innovator for me is a person that has the potential to challenge the status quo and bring it to the next stage. Innovative ideas and novel inventions are the drivers of a better and safer life. I call myself a social tech innovator because thanks to a new piece of technology my team and I can change the lives of millions of children.

Was it an easy road to arrive where you are now?

If I said the path I travelled over the last few years was easy, I would be lying. I still remember how I did not have family, friends or even a home when I moved to Vienna. Nobody could see the potential in one idea. However, I proved that the idea itself is only 1% and the hard work behind it counts for 99%. My success comes always with my preparation and I truly believe that people have to be persistent and active to reach their goals.

If you have children, what is the single most important thing you want to teach them?

Follow your passion and be persistent! Only you can make the difference in this world and remember: you can’t grow by staying small!

Are there any life events or persons who have changed your life and contributed to make you the person you are today?

After I was frustrated that no one saw the potential in my idea in my country, I decided to move the heart of Europe, to Vienna. This was the most important decision I have made in my journey and I am so happy that I did it. In Vienna there is a very strong community of social entrepreneurs and very soon I formed a team of highly-motivated young people and established a company in late 2014 called BLITAB Technology.

What else is there close to your heart that you would like to share with the readers?

Without my personal motivation and inspiration, BLITAB would have never became reality, I would have never entered this market and never showed the world that the Change started within the individual, with the entrepreneur. I strongly believe in the power of female entrepreneurs and that they can change the process of R&D in Europe as well the European Economics at all. And this is the message I share with everybody I meet in my way.

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Petra Wadström

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Petra Wadström - born in Stockholm and mother of four children - is the founder and CEO of Solvatten AB. Solvatten is a portable, durable, highly efficient and easy-to-use way to make water safe and hot, just by harnessing the power of the sun. She is a biochemical research technician but after years of research she turned a passion for art into a career. Being an artist has helped her to think outside the box, combining elements of science and creativity. Solvatten has received EU funding from Phase 1 of Horizon 2020's SME Instrument.

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What made me to get into social entrepreneurship?

I thought I could do something by looking into how to find a solution, rather than just see the problem. This is how the journey with the idea and the development of Solvatten started. A tool created especially for women living in poverty with no access to safe water or the electricity grid.

After a period of practical trials building prototypes, a lot of reading and observing a difference, when testing in a water laboratory highly contaminated water was treated in a Solvatten and, the results showed the water was free from the added bacteria after Solvatten treatment.

Then I was convinced; I can do something!

Before Solvatten, I started my first company in the 1990s developing solutions like Opbra® - a garment for women post breast surgery, and Osnodd® a smart solution against pick-pockets. With experience in design, patents, production and marketing I then turned my passion into the Solvatten journey.

Advice to a woman starting her innovative business.

If you have a good idea, start to think if there really is a need for your solution? Is it really new? Is it sustainable? Is it unique? Is the funding secured? If it is, do not hesitate! Be aware of that it is going to take time, money and sleepless nights and it needs your 100% focus and passion. You will have your encouraging rewards when you find it is possible!

A quote.

Put a value on the spaces in between.

As when you do a model-sketch, do not just look at the body proportions, include the empty spaces otherwise the drawing will not be complete. If the body could be compared with the financial return of investment the empty spaces are then the social return of investment, measurable and very valuable!

As for Solvatten: It saves time especially for women, saves trees, reduces soil erosion, reduces sick days, provides better family income.

How can Europe encourage women to innovate more?

Open up for support at an early stage of the process, also for innovators outside universities. Make the patent process less economically risky with some kind of insurance.

Open up for easier, "do it yourself” applications for loan and grant applications.

Support the good examples, encouraging and inspiring other women innovators.

The future I dreamt about when I was young.

Some weeks ago I looked in my bookshelf, and there, behind the first row I found what I was looking for, a book I gave to my father 40 years ago; ”Limits to Growth” written by Donella and Dennis Meadows et.al The authors of this book pointed out early warnings and concerns about how to use our planet for a sustainable future. On one of the first pages I found a graph showing a ”Human Perspective - Human concerns in space and time”, which showed that a majority of people in the world are concerned with matters that affect only family and friends over a short period of time. Only a few have a global perspective that extends into the future. Our work with Solvatten as well as other value- creating solutions are encouraging and necessary for the future for our grandchildren (I have six today).

It is absolutely necessary to change the limits to a sustainable future. We need entrepreneurs with big visions.

How should we encourage young children to become interested in science and innovation?

Starting early. Providing tools and encouraging creative solutions coming from the children. Stimulate the curiosity, open up for new solutions without to many set up targets”.

A single thing

I have told my children and now telling my grandchildren - Yes, YOU CAN!

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Statistical Data on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe

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EU Policy for gender equality

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