Congratulations to Martina Ivanova, Özge Akbulut and Greta Colombo Dugoni!

The RIS LEADERS competition draws attention to women innovators who make an impact. Three winners have been selected from the six finalists during the EIT Manufacturing Summit 2023.

Martina Ivanová, Özge Akbulut and Greta Colombo Dugoni were awarded the first, second and third positions with 10,000 EUR, 7,500 EUR, and 5,000 EUR in prize money. The remaining finalists Diana Ceresmis, Carla Gómez Cano and Karin Kogermann will receive two months of business mentoring for making it to the finals.

An image depicting six women

from left to right: Özge Akbulut, Greta Colombo Dugoni, Martina Ivanová, Carla Gómez Cano, Diana Ceresmis, Karin Kogermann

First Prize

This year’s RIS LEADERS winner, Martina Ivanova, founded Peelo in 2019 to reduce food waste by half. The company produces reusable packaging using wax coating technology, replacing hand-made processes with automated ones. This allows them to scale production, satisfy global demand, and in line with their mission: deliver better products.

The RIS LEADERS programme has been a fulfilling experience as well as a great networking opportunity and a beautiful initiative of supporting women in manufacturing, which opened new doors for me. It showed us all that – no matter what your geographical or academic background, with a great idea or a product, – you can have a huge impact on the world around you, despite a lot of stigma and prejudice about women in manufacturing businesses.

It’s a huge step forward that these topics are being discussed and women leaders are being supported through programs and events like these. It has proven to me that even as someone originally from a non-manufacturing background, you can learn – and become good! – at anything as long as you have the interest, vision and resilience to do so.

Martina Ivanova

Second Prize

Runner-up, Özge Akbulut, is developing energy-efficient, no material leak methods for near-net-shaping ceramics, aiming for a circular transformation in the ceramics industry: “Ceramics, now self standing”. Her project’s technology ensures self-standing, malleable formulations that are highly reproducible, require no expensive molding, and are recyclable without additional energy-intensive steps.

The EIT Manufacturing RIS LEADERS event has allowed me to disseminate our research on ceramics processing to a wider community. In the past seven years, we have focused on developing no-material leak solutions, through additive and subtractive methods, for the near-net-shaping of ceramics. We are at the right level in the process development on the laboratory scale to collaborate with the industry to achieve a circular transformation in the ceramics industry. I am looking forward to establishing multiple links to our non-profit operational scheme at Sabanci University through EIT Manufacturing.

Özge Akbulut

Third Prize

Greta Colombo Dugoni, CEO and co-founder of Bi-rex, is transforming paper production by creating sustainable paper from agricultural and food waste. The technology reduces water consumption, carbon emissions, and energy usage by up to 95%.

Proudly securing the third position at the RIS Leaders event, my journey has been a testament to empowerment, innovation, and the recognition of women’s leadership in manufacturing. This initiative goes beyond competition; it serves as a powerful reminder that groundbreaking ideas can flourish irrespective of geographical origins or academic backgrounds.

I had the privilege to spotlight Bi-rex, our startup dedicated to crafting paper from agro-food waste. This platform not only allowed us to showcase our commitment to sustainability but also emerged as a pivotal networking opportunity. Engaging with like-minded individuals and potential collaborators emphasized the vital role of relationships within the manufacturing sector.

Bi-rex has tirelessly worked towards reshaping the narrative surrounding waste and sustainability. The RIS Leaders event served as a stage to amplify our mission and cultivate connections that will drive our startup forward. EIT Manufacturing event not only acknowledged our journey but illuminated a path forward, demonstrating that with passion, vision, and persistence, women can lead and excel in manufacturing.

Greta Colombo Dugoni

Advancing women in manufacturing

During the festive award ceremony at the EIT Manufacturing Summit 2023, Konstantinos Georgoulias, Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) & EU Affairs Director, established that the RIS LEADERS have been instrumental in addressing the challenges faced by women in manufacturing.

He pointed out that the initiative has so far involved about 90 women from EIT RIS countries over three years and called the women’s experience in overcoming obstacles one of their biggest strengths. He encouraged everybody to have resilience in mind.

I have been lucky enough to listen to all these women who pitched their knowledge yesterday. That they can make a difference. Congratulating them for their willingness to make a mark for the future of the manufacturing space. It’s not always the most open space but today we want to give a prize to some of the women. To the rest – keep going! Keep making a difference.

Caroline Viarouge, CEO EIT Manufacturing


Have a look at our media gallery