Women Leadership and Entrepreneurship in the EIT Alumni Community

The EIT Alumni Communiy is a diverse and vibrant community that is dedicated to promoting and supporting women leadership and increasing the number of women involved in entrepreneurial activities.

Under-representation of women in entrepreneurship, economic leadership and the technology sector is recognised as a significant problem globally. Women constitute 52% of the European population but only 30% of entrepreneurs and only 32% of economic leaders. Women are the largest untapped entrepreneurial and leadership potential in Europe.

When it comes to the tech sector, women make up only approximately 15% of tech-sector jobs in the European Union, and at senior management and company board levels their participation is even lower with a few exceptions in certain European countries.

One of the key activities of the EIT Alumni Community in 2018 and 2019 was to help promote gender balance in entrepreneurial activities and education programmes.
The EIT Alumni Community has been involved in four key related initiatives:

  1. Supporting the development of the Women@EIT Community
  2. Highlighting inspirational EIT Community Women leaders and Entrepreneurs
  3. Supporting the EIT in its promotion and development of Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership activities
  4. Collaborating with EIT Health's WE Health project

The students behind Women@EIT want to create a network that connects both female EIT students and Alumni members and gives them a sense of belonging. They intend to achieve this goal through organizing monthly events that give the attendees the opportunity to learn new technical skills to advance in their careers and get encouraged to start their own business in the future.

On top of that, Women@EIT stands for promoting female role models, creating comfortable learning environments, female networking, raising awareness that inequalities between men and women still exist and trying to diminish them. Women@EIT is planned to be a cross-KIC initiative, which also creates a platform for sharing opportunities, events and ideas and is increasing the visibility of EIT among potential female applicants to EIT’s programs.

So far Women@EIT have held four events, each offering pitch training and workshops at various locations across Europe. If you want to get involved in upcoming Women@EIT events, join their Facebook group!

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Inspiring EIT Community Women Leaders and Entrepreneurs 

The EIT Alumni Community has recently started publishing a series of profiles of 'inspirational women leaders and entrepreneurs from the EIT Community'.
These profiles are designed to highlight some of the great and successful women in our community, to inspire a future generation of women entrepreneurs, and to create a buzz around the opportunities an entrepreneurial education can offer.
Unfortunately, it is true that there is a gender imbalance in the field of entrepreneurship. We hope that these profiles will be one small step towards improving this!

A full list of all our profiles is outlined below, in order of publication date.

Ariadna Diaz
EIT Health Alumna and participant of the WE Health Initiative 

Ariadna has been an alumna of EIT Health since October 2017, when she took part in EIT Health's WE Health Initiative in Barcelona. A programme which she found extremely enriching. It was here where she decided to co-create WomInHealth an initiative whose objective is the empowerment of women in their professional healthcare careers. 
Ariadna is currently in charge of Market Research and Strategic Business Planning for Metabolic diseases at Sanofi Iberia. 
Click here to view her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community.

"The Gender gap is not an opionion, it is a fact. Many women have had to sacrifice their personal lives to get where they are today" 

Lynette Kucsma
Co-Founder of Natural Machines and member of EIT Rising Food Stars

Lynette is the co-Founder of Natural Machines, an innovative startup chosen to be part of the EIT Rising Food Stars. Natural Machines are the creators of the Foodini, an ingenious 3D food printer, which allows you to design your food entirely, and promotes cooking with fresh, real ingredients. 
Lynette was recently listed by CNN as one of seven 'tech superheroes' to watch. Her company have also been selected to be in the first intake for funding from the soon to be created European Innovation Council (EIC).
Click here to view her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"The most rewarding part of my career is what I'm doing now. I'm a co-Founder of a company that I absolutely love and I have tremendous passion and drive to do what I'm doing."


Marisa Hernández
Founder of Ingelia and EIT InnoEnergy Alumna

Marisa is the founder of Ingelia, an EIT InnoEnergy supported startup based in Spain. Ingelia is a European SME that has operated one of the worlds first industrrial plants working with Hydrothermal Carbonization Technology (HTC). 
Ingelia is positioned as a leader in its sector in both technological and market development, with a competitive advantage against competitors of at least 4 years.
Marisa is also one of the 12 successful women shortlised for the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2018! We wish her the best of luck! 
Click here to view her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community.

"I recommend you to strongly believe in yourselve, your product, and, importantly, the input you get from your colleagues!"

Swati Pandey
EIT Climate-KIC Alumna and 2013 EIT Change Award nominee

Swati is the co-founder of Arboreal Innovations and took part in the EIT Climate-KIC Journey in 2011. Her company combines advanced R&D with sustainable and scalable supply chains of natural products. 

In 2011 her team was awarded the 'Public' award forthe best venture from Imperial College London. In 2013 she was nominated for the EIT Change award at INNOVEIT, and this year she was recently announced as the winner of the Cartier Women's Initiative Award for Asia-pacific! 
Click here to view her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

    "The process of creating a new venture is steeped in chaos and entirely non-linear, so just go for it!"

Eva Aasmäe
EIT Digital Accelerator Alumna

Eva is the Head of Product Development at Nordic Automation Systems. Her company joined the EIT Digital Accelerator in December 2017 to access new markets and make use of EIT Digitals vast network. 
Nordic Automation Systems were listed in the Forbes 30 under 30 list for Europe 2018. They focus primarily on the development of an emerging technology - LoRa (a wireless technology developed for low power, wide area networks). With this technology they hope to offer solution such as smart street lighting and remote water monitoring. 
Click here to view her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"Pursue the career you have an interest in. What matters is your persistance along the way!"

Julia Wache
EIT Digital Doctoral Alumna

Julia has always had the feeling that she wanted to implement something herself and improve people's lives with it. In attending the EIT Digital Doctoral School, Julia learnt to be an entrepreneur and after graduation she designed a business model centred on a startup selling tactile navigation belts that will help blind people navigate and orientate better.

After winning the VT Knowledge Works Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge in Virginia in the US, where her team won a $25,000 prize, Julia was also a nominee in the EIT Awards 2017.
Click here to view her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"Life is much easier if you are an optimist. Things never develop exactly as planned, but it is in this chaos that new opportunities arise!"

Brianna Stubbs
EIT Health Doctoral Transfer Fellow

Brianna studied for her PhD at Oxford University and was later awarded a Doctoral Transfer Fellowship with EIT Health for her work on the metabolism of Ketones, a novel energy source. She also attended the EIT Health Summit in Barelona 2016.
Brianna was the youngest person ever to row across the Channel at the age of 12! Now she is following her passion for sports, and is putting her scientific knowledge to use at HVMN, where she is the Research Lead. 
Click here to view her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"If you use up all the air in the room with your own ideas and excitement, some time you might miss out on gems from those around you."

Marja Makarow
EIT Governing Board Member

Marja has sat on the EIT Governing Board since 2012. She is also currently the Director of Biocenter Finland, an umbrella organisation working in the Finnish life-scientist industry. Between 2008 and 2011, Marja advised the EU Commissioner of Research and Innovation in the European Research Area Board on Horizon 2020. As the Chair of the Board of the Technology Academy Finland, she is the pleasant position of being able to award the prestigious Millenium Technology Prize to radical innovations each year.
Click here to view her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"When you have diversity, collective intelligence increases. And that's what we need"

Isabel Hoffman
CEO of Tellspec and member of EIT Food Rising Food Stars

Isabel is something of a serial entrepeneur, having successfully founded 8 companies in the fields of medicine, health care, technology, mobile health and education. She has won numerous awards and honours throughout her career, such as the Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year award,or the Ernst and Yound Entrepreneur of the Year award.
In 2013, Isabel founded Tellspec, an EIT Food supported start-up that wants to build consumer trust in food by offering real time, non-destructive food analysis. Tellspec are a member of the EIT Food Rising Food Stars and were featured at INNOVEIT 2017.
Click here to view her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"The best thing about running a company is being able to freely innovate and take charge of the direction and strategy of your idea"

Laura Soucek
Co-founder of Peptomyc and EIT Health Alumna

Laura is both an entrepreneur and a scientist working in cancer research. She has a PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from the University La Sapienza in Rome, and did her postdoc at the UCSF in the USA. In 2016 her start up Peptomyc was chosen as the prize winning team of the annual EIT Health Summit.
Peptomyc have recently finished a highly successful Series A funding to the tune of 4.2 million euros. This will allow them to start industrial production and clinical trials with patients. Ultimately this innovative cancer therapy has the potential to save many lives.
Click here to view her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"Ghandi once said 'be the change you want to see with the world'. Lets start with that."

Kate Hofman
EIT Climate-KIC Alumna & Winner of the 2013 EIT Change

Kate joined the EIT Community after taking part in the EIT Climate-KIC Summer School in 2011. During her time with EIT Climate-KIC she got the entrepreneurship bug. Swiftly, she met her business partner, quit her job and decided to co-found GrowUp Urban Farms.
Growup Urban Farms now run the largest aquaponic farm in the UK and deliver to many major retailers and restaurants in London. In 2015, Kate was elected as a London Leader, a position reserved for the capital’s most exciting and innovative new leaders in sustainable business.
Click here to read her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"Build your emotional resilience and make sure you're working with a purpose that's going to create some greater good"

Maria Boychenko
Digital Industry Business Community Coordinator at EIT Digital

During Maria's study of Information and Service management at the University of Aalto she became actively involved Finnish start-up eco-system. Her interest in this field led her to a position with EIT Digital, where she happily gets the chance to work with startups on a daily basis and organises a number of international events.
In addition, Maria is also a project lead at Girls in Tech Helsinki, part of a global network which supports women in technology. Currenttly she is working on a mentoring programme that is designed to inspire, encourage and support young women in business and technology to achieve their goals.
Click here to read her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"Try things and don't be afraid to fail, every failure is a learning opportunity"

Clementine Chambon
EIT Climate-KIC Alumna and Co-Founder of Oorja

Clementine is currently completing her EIT Climate-KIC PhD in Bioenergy at Imperial College London. In 2014 she took part in EIT Climate-KIC's summer school - The Journey, where she learned the ropes of climate entrepreneurship and met Amit Sarogi, her co-founder of Oorja: Empowering rural communities.  In 2016, Clementine was included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list of best young entrepreneurs, and the MIT Technology Review's list of Innovators under 35.
Click here to read her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community.

"Entrepreneurship is a steep learning curve for everyone; don't let your fear of failing hold you back."

Silvia Francioso
EIT InnoEnergy Alumna & Engineer for Energy Inclusion

Silvia is an EIT InnoEnergy graduate with a real love of people and a desire to give back to the world community. She describes herself as an Engineer for Energy Inclusion, and was inspired to get involved in the 'Appropriate Technologies' concept after her time with Engineers without Borders. Currently Silvia is currently working with Devergy in Tanzania bringing solar power to rural communities.
Click here to read her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"Dont let anyone intimidate you, don't take shortcuts, and don't be afrad to compete with men on a professional level!"

Florence Gschwend
EIT Climate-KIC PhD Student & Founder of Chrysalix

Florence is currently completing her EIT Climate-KIC supported PhD on the remediation of CCA-treated waste wood using iconic liquids at the Chemical Engineering department of Imperial College London. Her start-up Chrysalix, which is based on a process developed during her PhD was awarded 3rd prize in the Climate Launchpad finals 2016. This year she was included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list of best young entrepreneurs for 2017.
Click here to read her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"My advice would be to be bold and not worry too much. Great things happen when you come out of your comfort zone"

Mina Mirzadeh
Local CommUnity Manager, Leuven 

Mina is a graduate of EIT InnoEnergy's Master programme in Energy for Smart Cities. Since September, Mina has been the Local CommUnity Manager for InnoEnergy in Leuven. She describes herself as an electrical engineeer by background, an Iranian by origin and an advocate of sustainability by inspiration.
Click here to read her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community

"The EIT InnoEnergy CommUnity is where I have found what I would call like-inspired souls with big dreams and even bigger motivations."

Estefania Tapias
EIT Climate-KIC Alumna

Estefania is a graduate of the EIT Climate-KIC PhD programme and became an alumna in 2012. She has been an extremely active member, and has contributed greatly to the development of the EIT Alumni Community.
She was elected President of the EIT Climate-KIC Alumni Association for the period 2015-2016, and then as President of the EIT Alumni board for 2016-2017.  
Click here to read her full interview with the EIT Alumni Community 

"The dynamics of the EIT Alumni Board have always been very empowering and open. We've helped each other to construct a long-lasting and dynamic community!"