Imperial’s entrepreneurial women

To mark International Women’s Day, we meet the trailblazing women in Imperial’s community who are breaking biases and turning their ideas into successful businesses.  

But first, let's look at some statistics on the present landscape for women entrepreneurs...

Lucy Jung

Charco Neurotech

Portrait of Lucy Jung

Charco Neurotech found its genesis as a university research project. While researching for an unrelated project, Lucy met a man who had Parkinson’s disease. “Parkinson’s”, he told her, “has taken away my smile. Even when I’m happy, I look angry.” This chance meeting inspired Lucy and co-founder Dr Floyd Pierres to want to give people with Parkinson's the best possible quality of life, and they founded Charco in 2019.

Passionate that their project could grow into something with real-life impact, they wanted their wearable device to reach everyone who could benefit from it. This non-invasive wearable device, CUE1, alleviates certain Parkinson’s symptoms including stiffness and slowness of movement. This is done through two vibration-based therapies: focused stimulation and cueing (temporal or spatial stimuli which facilitate repetitive movement usually provided as visual, tactile or auditory rhythmic signals.). 

Lucy says: “Parkinson’s affects everyone differently, and the support which Charco offers reflects this. Developments such as the CUE1 allow the person with Parkinson’s to be at the centre of their treatment, and tailor management of their symptoms to their own unique lives.” 

Charco's CUE1 device

Charco's CUE1 device

The team say they have “benefited immeasurably” from being part of the Imperial hub – be that the Enterprise Lab, MedTech SuperConnector, Imperial Venture Mentoring Service, or the Innovators’ Programme. These initiatives, coupled with advice, lectures and networks developed through Imperial, proved invaluable support to the team, who recently raised funds through the Imperial College Innovation Fund.  

“Many people inspire me,” Lucy said. “I’ve been lucky enough to receive some brilliant guidance along the way from leaders in their fields, including the mentors at Imperial. I also draw a lot of inspiration from my team, all of whom have been amazing in their own way throughout Charco’s journey. People who are driven by vision and impact inspire me.”  

Lucy graduated from the Innovation Design Engineering Master’s programme, offered jointly with the Royal College of Art, in 2019.  

Chiara Heide


Chiara Heide sits in a grey chair

“BrightCure started with just an idea” says founder Dr Chiara Heide. With an MSc and PhD from the Department of Chemical Engineering, Chiara wants to use a novel approach to develop solutions for women’s health problems, founding biotech company BrightCure to develop non-antibiotic solutions for women prone to intimate infections such as of the urinary tract. 
Their solution is a microbiome-based technology topically applied to the intimate area acting as a protective shield to the female microbiome – the collective term for the microbes found in the vagina and vulva. The idea stemmed from Chiara’s frustration with a lack of innovation and awareness in the field of women’s health. 

A woman in business Chiara admires is Sara Blakely: “I like her energy, drive, and passion. She founded Spanx with $5,000 of her savings, wrote her own patent and without taking any outside investment, has turned her company into a global powerhouse that has destigmatised shapewear for women around the world.” 

Chiara’s goals for the future are plentiful: 

The team are currently in the process of rebranding and hope to launch their first product later this year. 

Georgina Denis

SURU Together

Portrait image of Georgina Denis

Georgina’s startup journey began in 2020, when she and co-founder Niccolo Pescetelli developed a platform for organisations to leverage stakeholder intelligence and improve decision-making called PSi (People Supported Intelligence).  

Built by a team of experts in collective intelligence, the platform uses voice technology and a unique algorithm to streamline large online meetings and generate collective intelligence from qualitative data.  

Since their founding, the company has gone from strength to strength, being used to hold collective intelligence events for customers like the University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical company Merck.  

On her inspirations, Georgina said: “One of my Techstars cohort is a major inspiration to me. Her name is Arion Long and she is CEO at Femly, a feminine care brand looking to end period poverty. Arion has helped me navigate the challenges of raising capital as a Black female founder and has been generous in sharing the expertise in her network. How Arion has scaled her company and her brand is a massive inspiration to me.” 

Georgina is currently studying for a Master of Public Health.


The Tyre Collective

Portrait image of Siobhan Anderson

“Imperial has been an essential part of our journey from the beginning,” says Siobhan Anderson, co-founder of The Tyre Collective, a clean-tech start-up spearheading the capture and monitoring of tyre wear, accelerating the shift towards true zero-emission mobility.  

Over a million tonnes of tyre wear particles are produced annually across Europe, making it the second-largest microplastic pollutant in our oceans and a major contributor to air particulate matter pollution. Tyre wear is a non-degrading microplastic, which accumulates in our food chain and natural resources.  

Without capturing tyre wear, transport will never be net-zero
Siobhan Anderson, co-founder of The Tyre Collective

The Tyre Collective are developing the first on-vehicle device to capture tyre wear at the source, right at the wheel, to prevent it from entering our ecosystem. Captured particles can be upcycled into new tyre production or bespoke rubber products creating a closed-loop system. “Without capturing tyre wear, transport will never be net-zero,” says Siobhan. 

The Tyre Collective started as part of a group project and officially launched in January 2020. The team have since won a series of international awards – including at the College’s Venture Catalyst Challenge – and completed their first on-vehicle tests, successfully capturing real-life tyre wear in summer 2021.  

“I hope one day to see The Tyre Collective technology on every vehicle. Currently we are targeting UK commercial logistic fleets as our beachhead market but we intend to scale across the EU and US. As a startup in sustainability, we wanted to challenge existing models of business and design to focus on circularity and responsibility. An interdisciplinary and multicultural approach to solving complex problems is something that we strongly believe in, and hope to encourage across all industries. 

“For me personally, I started down this path because I wanted to create something that could make a tangible difference for the planet. I wanted to be involved, hands-on, in trying to find solutions. The scale of the challenges that we are faced with today can be immobilising, but even one part of a solution is still a step forward. I hope that the work that we are doing can encourage others to seek solutions to global challenges and involve people from all backgrounds.”

A tyre with a device attached to collect particles

The Tyre Collective's device attached to a tyre

The Tyre Collective's device attached to a tyre

Who are Siobhan’s inspirations? “Tinker Hatfield, Nike Vice President for Design and Special Projects. His application of cutting edge biomechanics research with design and engineering creates thoughtful solutions insightful to the needs of the athlete. I relate to and share his motivation to revolutionise athlete-centred design after also experiencing a collegiate sports career cut short by injury. 

“Neri Oxam is also someone who constantly inspires me. Not only has her work redefined the possibilities of biology and engineering, but it is an embodiment of what interdisciplinary work can achieve; something I have strived for through my unconventional background of biology and art. As a woman in a very technical field myself, it is empowering to see her role in leading a field and receiving such recognition.”  

Siobhan graduated from the MA/MSc in Innovation Design Engineering in 2020, a course offered jointly by Imperial and the Royal College of Art. The team are also part of the Greenhouse Accelerator programme.  

Maysa Abadi

Honeycomb Network

Portrait image of Maysa Abadi

Maysa Abadi is in the fourth year of an MEng in Molecular Bioengineering and the co-founder of Honeycomb Network. The idea stemmed from an entrepreneurship module the team took as part of their course and following market research they realised there was a gap in the market for their solution.  

Honeycomb Network is developing a smart storage and charging network to support private micromobility (e-scooters and e-bikes). Their locker pods are kitted with universal charging leads to cater to any e-scooter brand or model and their cutting-edge smart-charging algorithms will ensure each battery is charged in the healthiest way to prolong battery life and reduce lithium-ion waste. Through the Honeycomb app users will be able to find vacant locker pods, charge their e-scooter and track the status of their charge remotely.

Artist's impression of a secure locker pods

Artist's impression of one of Honeycomb's secure locker pods

Artist's impression of one of Honeycomb's secure locker pods

 Maysa is inspired by her co-founders, who are “hardworking individuals and are incredible at what they do.” As for her goals, Maysa says: “To truly support low-carbon transport such as micromobility we need the supporting storage and charging infrastructure they are dependent on – this is where Honeycomb comes in! We hope to inspire the use of micromobility, educate the wider community on the benefits of sustainable and active travel and of course, play our part in mitigating climate change.” 

The team are part of The Greenhouse Accelerator, a 12-month innovation programme for climate positive technology startups, based at the Centre for Climate Change Innovation (CCCI). The CCCI is an initiative of Imperial’s Grantham Institute and the Royal Institution.  

Reka Tron


Graduate Reka Tron wearing a blue flowery dress

Réka met her cofounders at the College’s Synthetic Biology Society, where her future co-founder Kevin suggested cultivated meat could be an interesting new technology to investigate. “It was clear how much potential this industry has, but it wasn’t clear what’s limiting it, so we began our research into finding the bottlenecks, realising that up to 80% of the production cost is from the growth media,” says Réka. 

Imperial provided a community with likeminded ambitious individuals, allowed us to meet, brainstorm together and start this journey
Réka Tron, co-founder of Multus

The team began to enter and win more and more smaller competitions, receiving further funding along the way, while realising the business potential of their idea. Multus are developing the key ingredient, the growth media, to make cell-based meat – or as they call it, cultivated meat, which the team say is the affordable and accessible food of the future.  

“Imperial provided a community with likeminded ambitious individuals, allowed us to meet, brainstorm together and start this journey,” Réka said. Some of the support the team has received was mentoring from the Enterprise Lab, space to experiment in the Advanced Hackspace, and technical advisors through the Faculty of Natural Sciences Make-A-Difference competition.  

Multus are now a team of 11 and made their first sale in December 2021. They are based in the White City Incubator, along with several other life science companies. Réka adds: “Each team has really inspiring members going through similar challenges of company building as we do, allowing us to support each other on this journey.” 

“My personal goal is to have as much positive impact on the world as possible. We are in a quickly changing world, with numerous exciting technologies, and I feel the urge to take a significant part in making sure that all these technological changes move us in the right direction, towards a just and sustainable future.  

“For the company, I want to make sure we can support cultivated meat companies around the world as much as we can in the long-term. I want Multus to be an integral part of this new food system.” 

Réka holds a BSc in Biological Sciences and an MRes in Systems and Synthetic Biology from Imperial. 

Maria Karvela


Maria Karvela portrait image

Maria Karvela co-founded DnaNudge in 2015 with Imperial’s Regius Professor Christofer Toumazou to develop a new service to guide users to make the best shopping choices based on your unique genetic makeup – “nudging” your everyday choices through your DNA, plus your lifestyle.  

DnaNudge’s consumer genetics platform is an out-of-lab technology which delivers results in around 60 minutes and is highly cost-effective, with multiplexing capabilities that enable several tests to be run simultaneously on a single testing cartridge. The test can be operated by non-experts after minimal training, meaning you can run a genetic or even a diagnostic test quickly and reliably anywhere on the planet, without the need for a lab or specialist staff.

As a spin-out of Imperial, DnaNudge has benefited by working with the very best minds across a range of interdisciplinary fields
Maria Karvela, co-founder of DnaNudge

During the pandemic, this technology was rapidly adapted to deliver a gold-standard, rapid RT-PCR test to detect SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s now used in NHS hospitals for out-of-lab, point-of-care COVID testing, from A&E and maternity departments to mental health, transplantation and elective survey settings. 

“As a spin-out of Imperial, DnaNudge has benefited by working with the very best minds across a range of interdisciplinary fields, not only within the college itself but also in the clinical space with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust,” says Maria.  

As co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of DnaNudge, and as a biologist, geneticist and leukaemia scientist, Maria is passionate about informed consumer choice and bringing science and genetic testing technologies closer to the public. 

As for Maria’s inspiration and goals: “Chris has been my inspiration professionally and personally. It takes a certain type of leadership to nurture disruptive innovation, and Chris has provided fantastic mentorship, motivation and support, both to me and to the entire DnaNudge team. The secret to business success is to surround yourself with people who value you, who understand and can help you resolve your challenges, and who respect you, and that’s very much the case working with Chris.  

“My goal for the future is to continue driving DnaNudge to be as successful as it can be, and to extend the opportunities of empowering consumer genetics to everyone. Making a difference to people’s health and quality of life is a powerful motivation.” 

DnaNudge are based in the Translation And Innovation Hub at Imperial’s White City Campus

Isabel Garcia


Isabel Garcia Perez portrait image

Dr Isabel Garcia-Perez, Lecturer in Precision and Systems Medicine and Professor Elaine Holmes, Professor of Chemical Biology, are both inspired by Madam C.J. Walker: “She developed a line of beauty products and became the first female self-made millionaire in America. She started from nothing, built an empire and throughout her entrepreneurial journey, she supported many women, the African American community and made a name for herself because of her contribution to charitable causes.” 

The pair have come together, along with colleague Professor Gary Frost, to turn their scientific research into a tool to provide personalised dietary advice and founding Melico: Metabolic Life Coach. Since then, the team have secured their first round of funding, employ two women and are signing up B2B customers – as well as building a partnership with Bruker, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of scientific instruments. 

Specialising in precision nutrition and wellness, Melico uses advanced technology to provide metabolically personalised dietary advice to give consumers the tools they need to adjust their diets. Melico’s rapid test – developed and patented by Imperial scientists – analyses an individual’s urine to generate a unique metabolic profile that shows what an individual consumes on a day-to-day basis.

As scientists we have an insatiable thirst to learn and Melico has pushed us out of our comfort zone to learn how to build a business and everything that comes with it.
Isabel Garcia Perez and Elaine Holmes

By improving the accuracy of diet analysis, the team aim to provide reliable data to support the design of personalised health and diet plans. This may be especially relevant for high-performance athletes, people at risk of developing obesity or diabetes, and health-conscious individuals.  

Speaking about their goals, Isabel and Elaine say: “As scientists we have an insatiable thirst to learn and Melico has pushed us out of our comfort zone to learn how to build a business and everything that comes with it. One day, we are sitting in a lawyer’s office negotiating a contract the next refinancing our debt and for the fun bit we even get to opine on our branding strategy. We strive to achieve a balance in life and are trying to manage academic careers, the business and bringing up our families successfully.  

“As for the startup, Melico aims to become the global market leader in metabolic profiling of nutritional status based on scientific evidence- and therefore to contribute to improving the health of the population.”