Leading innovation in waste valorisation – the story of Greta Colombo Dugoni

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%.

Greta won third place in the 2023 RIS LEADERS competition thanks to her innovative solution. With a background deeply rooted in academic excellence and a commitment to environmental stewardship, Greta’s story is one of dedication, collaboration, and innovation.

Solid academic foundation and professional experience

Greta’s journey is deeply rooted in academia and education. She holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from Politecnico Di Milano, where she earned accolades for her research on environmentally sustainable separation processes. Her academic prowess was further demonstrated through her top marks in Chemical Sciences from the University degli Studi di Milano.

Transitioning into the professional arena, Greta worked as a Consultant at NOWAL CHIMICA srl and as a Regulatory Affairs Assistant, navigating complex European chemical regulations. Her commitment to education was evident through years of tutoring and mentoring, nurturing a passion for learning in students of all ages.

Passion for manufacturing and sustainability

Driven by a passion for the manufacturing industry and a dedication to sustainability, Greta found her calling in the field of waste valorisation. At Bi-rex, Greta leads a team focused on finding innovative ways to utilise biomass for sustainable purposes. Her expertise in agro-food waste valorisation aligns perfectly with her vision of a more environmentally friendly future.

Greta sees the prospect of finding novel solutions to optimise biomass utilisation, reduce waste, and contribute to eco-friendly manufacturing practices as particularly thrilling. She is deeply motivated by the potential to make a positive impact on both the industry and the environment.

Greta and her business partner, Monica Ferro.

Transformative solutions for a sustainable future

Bi-rex was born when Greta crossed paths with her business partner, Monica Ferro. Their decision to work together emerged not through a predetermined plan but rather because they liked each other and wanted to have fun while working. What started as a collaborative effort born out of mutual respect and affinity evolved into a venture that combined their distinct expertise.

Bi-rex’s approach leverages innovative technologies to extract maximum value from waste, contributing to a circular economy and reducing environmental impact. By finding practical and scalable ways to valorise biomass, they address the pressing need for sustainable alternatives in various industries. Their solution couldn’t be more timely, given the urgent need to combat climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation.

Vision for the future

For Greta, the most exciting aspect of her role at Bi-rex srl is the opportunity to lead and contribute to innovative solutions in waste valorisation. Looking ahead, their envisaged milestones include scaling up processes, establishing strategic partnerships, and achieving large-scale cellulose production from waste.

A specific and exciting milestone they are working towards is the large-scale production of cellulose, the most abundant biopolymer in nature, derived from waste valorisation. This material serves as a key raw material for the production of paper. Her dream is to see the production of paper on a significant scale without the need for deforestation, utilising waste materials, preferably sourced locally.

Empowering women in manufacturing

As a female leader in manufacturing, Greta is passionate about empowering other women to pursue careers in the field. She highlights that manufacturing is not exclusive to men and encourages aspiring women to challenge stereotypes, seek mentorship, and embrace continuous learning.

Greta’s message to women considering a career in manufacturing is clear: your skills, talents, and ideas are needed in this dynamic industry. By breaking down gender barriers and reshaping perceptions, women can be catalysts for positive change in manufacturing.


Apply now for LEADERS 2024!

Are you a female innovator? Do you have a solution that addresses manufacturing-related challenges? Then, take a look at the LEADERS 2024 Call and apply now! You can submit your application until 15 July 2024.

All information about the RIS LEADERS Call 2024

About the RIS LEADERS competition

In November 2023, the “LEADERS – Women Innovators in Manufacturing at EIT Regional Innovation Scheme” prize was awarded by EIT Manufacturing as part of the Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) for the third time. Thereby, EIT Manufacturing wants to draw attention to women innovators and women in the manufacturing industry, as women are still underrepresented in this sector.

For the final pitch, six candidates were selected, whose projects play a leading role in developing solutions that address manufacturing-related challenges with strong environmental or societal impact.

What is the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS)?

More information about the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS)

Get to know the 2023 RIS LEADERS winners!