What does our theme for this event – Decade of Action – mean for you?
Women have the chance to grow in this decade. There has been more recognition on what we can do. I believe that being a woman in this decade is powerful, especially in developed countries. Don’t get me wrong, this is only the beginning and there is a lot of work to be done but we have finally the opportunity to have a voice.
You have a Bachelor’s in Chemistry and a Master’s in Green Chemistry: Energy and the Environment. What encouraged you to pivot your chemistry background towards Green Chemistry?
I have always been interested and at peace with nature. Bringing my education to my passion was key for the growth I wanted to have in my career. That being said, today in chemistry, engineering or any science education, the “green” or environmental part to it is key. The education system is very well aware that whatever is created or developed in the future will have to be environmentally sound.
As a Senior Venture Associate at Plug and Play Tech Center in the Sustainability and New Materials & Packaging verticals, can you give us an example of the types of challenges you’re facing in those areas on a typical day?
The most difficult part about my job is the stage at which we invest. We invest in early stage startups, which means we have little to no financial information. Most of these companies are pre-revenue so our due diligence is based on the team, technology, business, and end market. We need to make sure that the startups have the ability to scale and that it does not become green washing at that point. This leads to questions such as: what feedstock are they using? What material are they replacing? What are the additives or coatings they would need to add to become a viable alternative? Is it a plug-in system? etc…
What do you love about the work you do? What keeps you inspired?
The potential to do more. What excites me is the bird eye view on the innovation ecosystem. Working with corporations and startups provide such a huge potential to promote innovation.
What skill or strategy does it take to lead investments successfully in your field?
That is a difficult question as I will know if my strategy works only in a few years. However, understanding the technology and its capacity to have a positive impact at large scale is very important. The skills and tenacity of the team to grow a business is of course key to the success of any company.
What insights, advice, or inspiration would you like to share with our members about your journey in this space?
Trust yourself! I have had so many people underestimate me simply because they did not know me. Don’t listen to other people, make your way through what is of interest to you. Don’t pay attention to the jealous ones.
You are also doing exciting work in Sustainable Fashion. Our audience has an interest in sustainable fashion, what ways can you suggest for them to get involved?
Make wearing the same clothes over and over again cool! New garments use an enormous amount of waste, water, and toxic chemicals. If you are not wearing a piece of clothing, avoid the trash and try to see if the brand or second-hand store will take it back, or try to redesign it so it fits your current style.
Again, THANK YOU, DANAÉ!
With your insights we hope to inspire many new innovators in this field!
Interview by Anne Hendry