As a biotechnologist Magdalena Jander is certainly a powerhouse when it comes to technology. She is the CEO of biotech company Uvera which is based in Poland and has a PHD. Here, she explains why she believes gender imbalance starts at university.
While she speaks, she has a spark in her eyes. Magdalena Jander is no doubt a role-model for many “little Magdas” out there, including her two daughters.
“We are trying our best to raise them in this ‘innovation spirit’, to always be curious,” says Magdalena. “We always tell them that they should look for the solution, they should not omit any kind of problem.”
Magdalena, who takes part in different organisations that support not only women but leadership as well, adds: “I still see that there is not a lot of women in the start-up industry, and I think… this imbalance is coming from the university. In science, technology, engineering and mathematics, there is still less women than men.”
According to a survey conducted by Microsoft on 11,500 young women across 12 European countries, girls aged 11–12 are just as interested in STEM as boys. But as soon as they turn 15-16 their interest plummets. At that age, only 5% of girls report that they expect to have a career in computing or engineering, compared to 18% of boys, according to the OECD. This survey also reveals, that having visible female role models sparks girls’ interest in STEM careers, as well as practical experiences and hands-on exercises inside or outside classroom.
Magdalena has a lot to share with future female entrepreneurs. The Biotechnologist – who apart from her native Polish, speaks English, French and Japanese – was offered two international fellowships, one at Sorbonne Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris and one at Osaka University in Japan. In 2019 the UVera team won the EIT Health InnoStars Awards, a unique programme for early-stage start-ups from Central, Eastern and Southern European countries, with a modest or moderate innovation capacity. The start-up kept enjoying the support of EIT Health – EU-backed organisation that supports innovators – and a year later won the EIT Health Catapult’s 1st prize in the biotech category as well as the Alex Casta Audience Award. Thanks to this latter, UVera’s name was displayed on the Nasdaq Tower in New York’s iconic spot, Times Square.
UVera – whose expert team consists of researchers and engineers – aims to launch its product in 2023. The product aims to reduce the harm currently seen in sunscreen lotion on oceans. The product is being made in a zero-waste process: its production consumes tons of carbon dioxide, and its by-products are oxygen and fertile biomass. Sustainable innovations are getting more appreciated worldwide and UVera could make a real impact in a potent global sector: the cosmetics industry.
This is the ultimate goal for most start-ups, no matter in which field they operate. Magdalena has a piece of advice for them: “Seize the moment! Launching a start-up is just about finding the right people at the right place with the right innovation. And be sure that the people with whom you are working are credible. Then you can be sure that you can move the whole world together.”