MSCA fellow takes top EU prize for women innovators

by Matthew DiFranco

Former MSCA fellow Michela Puddu’s breakthrough idea to use DNA anti-fraud labels to track products has not gone unnoticed. In fact, she has been singled out as one of the European Union’s “amazing innovators”.

Puddu, who is co-founder and CEO of Haelixa, was awarded the European Union’s 2019 Prize for Women Innovators in the rising innovator category. She received EUR 50 000 for her game-changing innovation.

Puddu co-invented the Haelixa technology during her PhD in Chemical Engineering at ETH Zurich with Mag(NET)icFUN, which is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Initial Training Network. Her patented DNA technology ensures ethical and transparent business practices, with special focus on sustainable products such as organic cotton.

“The origin of a product and the understanding of its supply chain is crucial in determining its value, its safety and its sustainability,” Puddu explains in a video posted on Twitter by the European Commission.

Puddu is one of four winners announced by Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas on May 16.

“I am honoured to share this moment of recognition with such amazing innovators,” said Commissioner Moedas. “They show the unlimited talent present in Europe and the importance of women entrepreneurs. I hope that with this prize, our winners will go on to inspire many other women to create innovative businesses.”

The winners were chosen by a jury of independent experts following an open call for submissions last year. More than 150 applications were submitted from across the EU and countries associated to Horizon 2020, the EU’s funding programme for research and innovation.

The main objective of the EU Prize for Women Innovators is to raise public awareness of the need for more innovation and more women entrepreneurs.  It’s also aimed to create strong role models.

Currently, women are underrepresented in terms of creating innovative enterprises in Europe. Puddu, together with the other award-winning women innovators, are taking the lead – inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.