The traditional career route for researchers of staying in academia isn’t for everyone - so what else is out there?

On March 8, Applied Microbiology International (AMI) will host an exciting online event focusing on five women who founded their own companies, becoming successful entrepreneurs using their own research as a spin-out launchpad.

hannah-busing-Zyx1bK9mqmA-unsplash (1)

The prerecorded webinar, ‘Science & Success - the link between STEM and success in sustainable entrepreneurship’  will go live on AMI’s website on International Women’s Day to highlight the value of women’s inclusion in STEM as well as empower and inspire those in our microbiology community.

From growing athletic shoes with bacterial nanocellulose, recycling methane to create clothes via methanotrophs and using microbial fuel cells to clean wastewater; these entrepreneurs can offer a vast array of tips to help you follow in their footsteps and tackle global issues sustainably, whilst building a business.

Jen Keane

Jen Keane

Jen Keane is the Co-Founder and CEO of Modern Synthesis, a biotech company bringing life to new materials. Jen is a designer, material innovator and entrepreneur who holds a bachelors in Fiber Science and Apparel Design from Cornell and a masters in Material Futures from Central Saint Martins. Her biodesign work has not only captured the imagination of the fashion industry, but also garnered numerous awards, including the Mills Fabrica Techstyle prize and the LVMH Green Trail Award. Having previously driven key material innovation initiatives at Adidas, Jen founded Modern Synthesis in order to create a world where sustainability empowers - rather than constrains - creativity.

2021 Allison Launch 1

Dr Allison Pieja

Dr Allison Pieja is the co-founder and CTO of Mango Materials, a start-up company that produces biodegradable polymers from methane gas. She received her PhD in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Stanford, with a focus on selection of microbes for the production of poly-hydroxyalkanoate (PHA) from methane. Allison received her BSE from Princeton University in Civil & Environmental Engineering and graduated with a Certificate in Engineering Biology. She has contributed to multiple patents and publications in the PHA field. At Mango Materials, she leads scale-up and process optimization of Mango Materials’ process to produce biopolymer from waste methane gas.


Dr Orianna Bretschger

Dr Orianna Bretschger received a BS in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Northern Arizona; and after a career in aerospace and government consulting, completed a PhD in Materials Science at the University of Southern California. Dr. Bretschger is a 2021 Cartier Women’s Initiative Science and Technology Pioneer Laureate, a 2019 Fellow in the National Academy of Sciences New Voices in Science, Engineering and Medicine Program, a 2022 Unreasonable Fellow, and her company Aquacycl was a Finalist for the 2023 Earthshot Prize for its work to decarbonize wastewater treatment. Aquacycl was founded in November 2016 and the company provides industrial wastewater treatment as a service to help companies support healthy watersheds and communities world-wide.

MicroHarvest_Luísa3 (002)

Luísa Cruz

Luísa Cruz is the Co-Founder and CTO of MicroHarvest, which harnesses the power of microorganisms to deliver the sustainable protein ingredients of the future. Luísa joined MicroHarvest in January 2022 as co-founder and CTO, driven by a passion to bring different disciplines together and deliver sustainable and scalable solutions to current food chain challenges. Behind her is a MSc in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Lisbon  in Portugal, PhD degree in Bioprocess Technology from Delft University of Technology and nine years’ experience at Corbion in the Netherlands. There she carried out a variety of roles, such as technical management of USP projects, team leader of Process Design and Data Science teams, and Competitive Intelligence & Market Insights manager.


Sandeepa Kanitkar

Sandeepa Kanitkar is a founder chairperson and Managing Director of Kan Biosys – the microbial company known for its microbial products for sustainable agriculture - and an industrial microbiologist who has spent 30 years unleashing the power of microbes for agriculture. Starting from the first patent for producing liquid biofertilizers which won the United Nations WIPO Gold Medal, she has been involved in improving the efficiency of fertilizers and pesticides using microbes. She believes that carbon is the real backbone of soil which can be put to best use by microbes for growing our food. A serial entrepreneur and vice chairman of BASAI – an industrial body to voice the cause of the biologics producers, Sandeepa believes in the power of compassionate capitalism for improving farmers’ income, the way our food is grown and extending the goodness to the consumers, as she believes “We are what we eat”.

Save the day in your calendar to watch this exciting webinar at a time that suits you. You never know where your research might lead you! To find out more, click HERE.