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Home » Women innovators talk about their EQUALS-EU experience: Dr. Arijana Filipić 

Women innovators talk about their EQUALS-EU experience: Dr. Arijana Filipić 

Dr. Arijana Filipić, Scientific Associate, Department of Biotechnology and Systems Biology, National Institute of Biology in Ljubljana, Slovenia, presenting #CleanWater during the pitch-off session at the final week of EQUALS-EU Summer School. Photo credit: Sandra Guaita

Arijana Filipić is a microbiologist specializing in virus inactivation and water decontamination. She uses various environmentally friendly methods, such as hydrodynamic cavitation and cold plasma, to inactivate viruses in water. She also researches various other methods to inactivate viruses in/on other matrices, from natural substances to metals and physical methods. She was a part of the team that developed the first system in Slovenia for determining the bacterial and viral filtration efficiency of masks.

Arijana has a special talent in presentations and she helps others to present their ideas in an impactful way in her Arijana’s Academy for Presenting.

Arijana participated in the EQUALS-EU Hackathon in Slovenia back in August 2022 where she developed the winning solution with Barbara Breznik. Following the hackathon, she joined the mentoring programme starting from December 2022 and participated in the three-week summer school programme in Riga, Geneva and Valencia during summer 2023. With her innovative idea #CleanWater, she was one of the three winners at the pitch-off session by the end of the summer school where participants presented their tech innovation ideas and business plans to a jury of experts.

We interviewed Arijana to hear about her experience with EQUALS-EU.

Q1: Everything started with your participation in the hackathon last year. What was your main motivation in joining this event and how did your hackathon experience help you to move forward with your innovation process?

I believe that any type of inequality should be addressed and this also includes the gender gap. Talking about inequality is the first step to make a change as this leads to increased awareness of the problem and higher involvement of people with various backgrounds.

Q2: What were your main takes from the mentoring process following the hackathon? How do you see the role of such capacity building activities in empowering young women in their entrepreneurship and innovation journey?

Unfortunately, I joined the project quite late, so I did not have much experience with mentors, but the one I did get was extremely positive. Mentorships like this are fantastic because they can help to motivate all young women and nudge them in the right direction so that they can continue on this often difficult path.

Q3: What were the most inspiring and beneficial aspects of your summer school participation? How was your pitch-off experience?

One of the best aspects of the summer school was meeting so many inspiring and amazing women who want to make this world a better place. The pitch-off experience was OK and the evaluators were great, although there were some misunderstandings during the event that led to confusion among participants and evaluators.

Q4: Can you tell us a bit about your innovative idea – a new plasma cavitation technology – that you developed during your EQUALS-EU journey? What are your plans for the future and how will EQUALS-EU experience will help you in turning this idea into success?

The development of the technology began long before the summer school, continued during the summer school and will continue as long as we have resources 😊. It is a unique technology developed in cooperation between three Slovenian institutes (National Institute of Biology, Jožef Štefan Institute and the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the College of Ljubljana) and can be used to inactivate pathogens in water, such as viruses, and thus decontaminate water. We are conducting extensive research in this field because we want to understand everything about the technology so that we can offer the best possible solution. Through the EQUALS-EU program, I have met some great people who have advised us on what we need to consider when looking for and acquiring funding. In this way, EQUALS-EU may help make our idea a success.

Q5: What can you tell to girls and women who would like to choose a career path in the technology sector and innovation?

Go for it! It is hard work and sometimes quite challenging  but it’s always worth it when you know you are making the world a better place.

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