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Team

Alejandro Antalich

Chairman & Co-Founder  

Mr. Antalich is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Company ICC Labs Inc. (TSXV), the first publicly traded company in the world to sell cannabis to a federal government, bridging the gap between the stigma behind certain controlled substances and regulators. He led ICC Labs to its successful sale to Aurora (TSX) in November 2018, one of the largest participants in the industry, a $300 million transaction. An entrepreneur and investor with a commercial instinct and vision towards business growth. He leads two Canadian publicly traded companies, Biomind Labs Inc., a life sciences company specialized in mental health, and EvokAI Creative Labs Inc., a medtech company dedicated to the development of transformational and innovative technologies for the modern healthcare sector. He sits on the boards of several companies.

Melissa Hendrén
Chief Innovation Officer

Melissa as Chief Innovation Officer, consistently champions a culture of creativity, pushing boundaries, and fostering an environment where novel ideas flourish. With degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biosystems and Biomaterials Engineering from Aalto University, her passion for Synthetic Biology innovations drives her towards ambitious goals at Synbio Powerlabs. As co-lead of the Aalto-Helsinki 2022 iGEM team, she secured a prestigious gold medal, showcasing her leadership and talent. With strong expertise in yeast strain engineering and cultivation, she continues to drive groundbreaking projects, shaping the future of synthetic biology and inspiring others along the way. Melissa's journey has been marked by a deep interest in synthetic biology innovations, with a keen focus on health-tech advancements.

Sanna Taskila

CTO & Co-Founder

Sanna has a doctor’s degree in environmental engineering and bioprocesses. Sanna has 15 years of experience in leading bio- and circular economy related projects in the academy and companies. Her special fields of expertise include: resource efficiency, use of side streams, carbon footprint, market analysis, financial instruments, investment materials.

Amna Gul 
Scientific Laboratory Manager

Amna is an Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree (EMJMD) scholar of the program “Biological and Chemical Engineering for a Sustainable Bioeconomy, BIOCEB”. She received a Bachelor's Degree with honours in Biotechnology at University of Peshawar in Pakistan. Amna is a molecular biologist and a Synbio enthusiast. She was a member of Aalto-Helsinki iGEM 2022 team that bagged a gold medal in the iGEM competition. She also has expertise in agro-resources and their transformation through biorefinery processes. Moreover, she has experience in value-chain assessment, materials, and biopolymers.

Heikki Ojamo
Senior Bioprocess Advisor

Heikki is an experienced Director with decades of experience working with the leading scientific institutions in the Nordics. Over the years he has successfully covered relevant roles in the biotech industry spacing from Head of Pilot operations to Group Manager and Director of Science and Technology. He held prominent roles in academia as Professor or Lecturer at Aalto University, Metropolia University of Applied Science and University of Oulu. His important contribution to scientific research, particularly in metabolic engineering and carbohydrate biochemistry secured multiple patents over the years. During his career Heikki was awarded for Distinguished Scientific Activity and was Board Member of the Association of Finnish Chemical Societies. He has been author or co-author of 46 scientific articles and supervised over 40 Ph.D., D.Sc., M.Sc., and B.Sc. theses.

Lotta Lavonen
Head of Corporate Affairs

Lotta Lavonen is a driven business professional and law expert with international experience in global boutique investment banking, specializing in strategic planning and risk analysis. Thanks to a strong background and diverse experience in go-to-market strategies, in-depth market research, and customer profiling techniques she has deep understanding of transactional intricacies and complex investment environments. In her team she is recognized for exceptional communication abilities and analytical skills to interpret complex financial data to provide vital insights for impactful decision-making. Lotta is passionate about bridging the gap between finance and law to have true impact on the financial-legal arena, leveraging her international insights and expertise.

Paola Díaz
IP Development Director

Ms. Díaz Dellavalle has a Ph.D in chemistry and natural molecules with more than 15 years of experience in research, development, and management in biotechnology projects. She has studies in intellectual property and competitive intelligence analysis, with vast experience in patent strategy and technology transfer, specializing in the fields of chemistry, life sciences, pharmacy and biotechnology. During her career, she has led teams of scientists and managed subcontractors for non-clinical studies and new molecule development programs.

Juan Presa
Director of Legal Affairs

Attorney at law from the Catholic University in Uruguay, specializing in corporate, commercial and international law. Juan has worked with companies from diverse industries such as agriculture, mining, cannabis, FinTech, including listed companies both on the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange. Juan developed the business expansion of companies through South America, Asia-Pacific and Africa, and participated in mergers and acquisitions of both public and private companies, public offerings and private placement financings.

Merja Penttilä

Co-Founder

Merja is a professor  in synthetic biology at Aalto University. Her expertise is on engineering of microbes for the production of fuels, chemicals, enzymes and materials.
She is the initiator of Synbio Powerhouse, an ecosystem to promote biotechnology and synthetic biology in Finland and beyond. over 300 publications, over 18 200 SCOPUS citations, and h-index of 78. Merja received the title of Academician of Science year 2023.

Nina Pulkkis

Founder

Nina is an entrepreneur, science journalist and communications expert focused on synthetic biology and biomaterials research. She has over 10 years of experience working with topics related to the bioeconomy. Through out her work she has been a passionate advocate of promoting biotechnology on multiple levels.

Tuula Palmén

Co-Founder

Tuula has a doctor´s degree from medical faculty of Helsinki University and eMBA degree from Hanken School of Economics. Tuula has over 10 years of experience in international business and 20 years of experience in Finnish innovation policy, planning and execution of national and regional growth strategies. She led the development of the Finnish synthetic biology ecosystem and Health Capital Helsinki. She also was a co-founder of Food Safety Cluster and program director of the Oulu HealthBio field.

Dario Forneris

Co-Founder

Dario is an expert business developer and design strategist with a strong background in circular economy, product development, and communication.
With extensive experience in design, creative leadership, and sustainable innovation he is Bachelor's in Industrial Design (Honors) and a Master's in Ecodesign (Honors). He is a passionate advocate of design thinking applied to bio-innovation and technology development.

Szymon Wiktorowicz

Co-Founder

Szymon is a research an innovation professional with a doctoral degree in chemistry, whose background transcends chemistry, energy and materials science. With extensive experience in evaluating novel research and technologies from diverse fields, as well as science communication – he now leads strategic innovation programs and initiatives related to turning early stage ideas into viable commercial products.

Eelis Paukku

Co-Founder

Eelis holds the position of Finland's youngest doctor of law. He also has a Masters degree in Economics and a Masters degree of Science in Industrial Engineering. He has written numerous academic and peer-reviewed legal articles also in distinguished international publications. Eelis is also an authorized public accountant, and he has years of experience in auditing, special audits of accounts and special audits. Eelis' other strengths are related especially to business law, such as acquisitions, financing, business contracts, tax law, and accounting law.

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