women in cleantech

The women leading the way in the European cleantech industry

In honour of International Women’s Day 2021, we’re celebrating the inspiring women who are pioneering clean technology and leading their businesses to success while contributing to a more sustainable future. Of course, there are so many incredible women in cleantech around the world that we couldn’t possibly fit them all into one article. However, here’s a selection of people we wanted to shine the spotlight on this year.

Florence Gschwend, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Lixea

Florence is the Co-Founder of Lixea – an Imperial College London biochemistry spin-out – and is currently its Chief Technology Officer. She’s accumulated an impressive array of awards throughout her career, including the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Change Award and A Future Engineering Award. Florence was also named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for Europe’s most promising game-changers in 2017. Lixea’s chemical processes will enable industries to move away from single-use crude oil products, allowing society to live more sustainably in a cleaner world while providing unwanted waste materials with a new purpose.

Nina Harjula, Head of Global Communications, Danfoss Power Solutions

Nina is Danfoss Power Solutions’ Head of Global Communications. She is also Marketing Director at Danfoss Editron, the electrification arm of the Danfoss Group, which is changing how the world moves on land and sea with hybrid and fully-electric drivetrain systems. Before joining Danfoss, Nina was a Co-Founder and board member of the Global Cleantech Cluster Association and led the planning of the annual Cleantech Venture Day event. She is regarded as one of the pioneers and thought leaders in cleantech business development in Finland and was invited by Business Finland to be a member of the Cleantech Advisory Board.

Aude Guo, Co-Founder, Innovafeed

Aude co-founded Innovafeed in 2016 after identifying a real need to transform our global food system. InnovaFeed has developed a unique and innovative model of insect farming at an industrial scale for animal feed. This model is based on circular and zero-waste logic, utilising industrial symbiosis to save 57,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Innovafeed has received a total of €200 million in funding to date and recently partnered with U.S.-based food processing and commodities trading corporation Archer Daniels Midland Company to build the world’s largest insect protein plant in the state of Illinois.

Sally Morley, Managing Director, Biome Bioplastics

Sally has been part of the Biome Bioplastics team for 14 years, becoming Managing Director in 2019. She has played a key role in expanding the company’s product range and increasing its presence in North America. Biome Bioplastics is one of Europe’s leading providers of next-generation biodegradable and compostable natural polymers. Its mission is to produce bioplastics that can challenge the dominance of oil-based polymers and ultimately replace them completely.

Lubomila Jordanova, Co-Founder and CEO, PlanA.Earth  

Lubomila is the Co-Founder and CEO of PlanA.Earth and a Co-Founder of the GreenTech Alliance. PlanA.Earth has developed software that helps businesses calculate, monitor and reduce their carbon footprint. The technology behind the software uses insights from the PlanA algorithm, analysing over 300,000 data points to predict and prioritise the most critical environmental issues. Last year, Lubomila was named on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and was selected as one of FOCUS Magazine’s 100 Women of the Year in Germany. She regularly contributes to the climate discussion in Germany and beyond.

Dr Clementine Chambon, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Oorja

Clementine is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Oorja, a mission-driven social enterprise based in New Delhi that provides integrated energy solutions to replace diesel engines used in the agricultural value chain. Oorja installs, operates and maintains solar water pumps, which are each shared by 15 to 20 smallholder farmers. Prior to Oorja, Clementine worked as a renewable energy consultant for New Climate Economy, the European Commission and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change. She holds a PhD in Bioenergy from Imperial College London and a Master’s in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge. In 2016, Clementine was included in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List for top Social Entrepreneurs, while she was also listed in MIT Technology Review’s list of French innovators under 35 years old. Furthermore, Clementine won the Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2018 for her work with Oorja.

Mette Lykke, CEO, Too Good to Go

After spotting the huge potential of Danish start-up Too Good to Go in 2017, Mette first invested in the company before joining as CEO shortly after. Before taking the reins at Too Good to Go, she was one of the Co-Founders of Endomondo, a fitness tracking app that has since been acquired by Under Armour. With a mission of reducing food waste worldwide, Too Good to Go is the world’s largest B2C marketplace for surplus food. The company has received global mainstream news coverage, has 50,000 partner stores across 15 countries and employs over 450 people worldwide.

Janice Goodenough, CEO, Hydrogrid  

Austrian start-up Hydrogrid offers a fully-automated IoT solution for the optimal, real-time control of hydropower plants to increase energy efficiency and revenue. The company’s CEO Janice is regarded as an expert in optimising flexible power generation assets and sits on the European Energy Analyst Meeting Steering Committee board. With customers in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Turkey and the United Kingdom, Hydrogrid was awarded the State Prize for Digitalization prize in 2019. Janice helped the company secure fresh investment in late 2020 and has ambitious expansion plans for the next few years.

Vaitea Cowan, Co-Founder, Enapter

At just 23 years old, Vaitea co-founded Enapter, a rapidly-growing cleantech start-up that develops highly-efficient hydrogen generators with patented Anion Exchange Membrane (AEM) technology. The company now offers a plug and play AEM electrolyser module to turn renewable electricity and water into green hydrogen. Based in Italy but with an international presence covering Germany, Thailand and Russia, Enapter has raised over €7 million in investment to date. Vaitea was named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Energy list in 2019.

Happy International Women’s Day! We hope you found this list as inspiring as we found writing it. Thank you to all the women in cleantech providing encouragement to the next generation of female founders, scientists and engineers who will contribute to a greener future.

At Life Size, we are dedicated to making the cleantech industry more inclusive. We’ll be discussing this subject in more detail on Wednesday March 24th, when we host our first-ever panel discussion Creating a more diverse cleantech industry – An agenda for change. Learn more about the event and register here.

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