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NADES design - a team that strives to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030

The lack of representation of women in rural areas not only affects the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, but prevents many women from fully developing their potential. In order to improve the position of women in the agrifood industry, the Empowering Women in Agrifood program was launched.

24 Nov 2022
EIT Food North-East

The EWA program in Croatia is organized by Lean Startup Croatia in cooperation with EIT Food. It is a mentoring programme intended for female entrepreneurs in the early stages of their careers for the purpose of developing a sustainable business. The program was launched with the aim of achieving gender equality and encouraging women to occupy leading positions in the agricultural and food industry. 10 entrepreneurs are participating in the 6-month entrepreneurial incubation program in Croatia, and one of them is Manuela Panić, who is behind the startup NADES design. This is her story.

The mission of NADES design

We all like to choose products declared as natural because we are increasingly aware that a healthy lifestyle is imperative. But we are not aware that plant extracts are not always produced ecologically but using harmful petroleum-based solvents. Solvents are used daily in numerous industrial processes, and it is estimated that they account for almost 60% of all industrial emissions and 30% of all emissions of volatile organic compounds in the world. (Bubalo, C.; Anastas, P.) The global goal is to find green alternatives for currently used solvents and reduce CO2 emissions by 2030.

This is also the goal of NADES Design. Their mission is to change the industrial use of solvents. Their ultimate goal is to develop and produce new green biosolvents for use in extraction, biocatalysis and natural sciences, and contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions. For this very reason, for the last 10 years, NADES has been developing 100% green bio-solvents called natural deep eutectic solvents (NADES).

Product development

NADES solvents can completely replace toxic solvents and reduce CO2 emissions. These solvents are a mixture of at least two natural metabolites and are liquid and stable at room temperature. You even have one of these solvents in your kitchen, and that is honey.

Figure 1. Natural deep eutectic solvents.

Using the new NADES solvents, the team developed three products, i.e. herbal cocktails (extracts) in NADES. These extracts have a longer shelf life compared to those currently available on the market. NADES solvents can dissolve at least 100 times more bioactive compounds from plants compared to currently commercially available products.

Figure 2. Plant extracts in NADES solvents

The biggest competitive advantage of NADES Design is the possibility to develop customized solutions, i.e. in silico solvent design using COSMTherm software and mathematical models for the preparation of plant extracts.

Figure 3. In silico design of novel NADES solvents.

NADES design team

The NADES design team is 7 female scientists from the Faculty of Food and Biotechnology with no previous experience in entrepreneurship, but with great enthusiasm for their work. They are: associate professor prof. Kristina Radošević (determination of cytotoxicity of NADES and preparation of THEDES), doc. prof. Marina Cvjetko Bubalo (production of NADES and development of the biocatalytic process), prof. Ivana Radojčić Redovniković (management and continuous product development based on NADES), Mia Radović, M.Sc. (production of NADES and development of the biocatalytic process), Ph.D. Manuela Panić (EWA programme participant, preparation and characterization of NADES, application of NADES in extraction, biocatalysis in laboratory and semi-industrial scale), Anja Damjanović, M.Sc. (preparation of plant extracts in NADES) and Martina Bagović, M.Sc. (preparation of therapeutic eutectic solvents (THEDES).

Figure 4. NADES Design team members

Female scientists are trying to bridge the gap between academia and industry and bring sustainable green products to market. Their story with NADES solvents began in 2013 in the academic community, and since then they have been working and creating innovations in the field of green chemistry. They believe that now is the time and that the industry is ready to implement green solvents in their products.

Development of the NADES project

Until now, they have had numerous industrial as well as research national and international collaborations. For the market at this stage, they have 3 new products at TRL5 - plant extracts in NADES solvents that have anti age, antioxidant and antimicrobial effects. Their long-term vision is to become a leader in the design and production of NADES solvents and their application in various industrial niches, from the chemical, pharmaceutical, to the food industry. Their efforts were recognized, so they received the support of the ACT group for business start-up and product development.

In addition to EWA programme, members are currently in another EIT Food program - Jumpstarter. Due to the connection through the EIT Food network, the team had the opportunity to present the products to potential clients as a B2B company.

Added value of EWA programme and next steps

During EWA programme in Croatia, they gained knowledge, great mentors and many acquaintances with people from the agri-food field. They point out that the most valuable thing for them was the one-on-one mentoring and easier access to feedback through the program's entrepreneurial network.

The participants point out that after the program they feel better prepared to face the entrepreneurial world. During the program, NADES recorded progress in product development, and by the end of the project they already have several new ideas that they want to realize or have already started working on.

In addition, the team points out that it is more than satisfied with the cooperation with Lean Startup Croatia. The training was very well organized, everything was on time and according to the schedule. The lectures were valuable while the mentoring sessions were very useful. They are very grateful that they were part of this program and that they had the opportunity to hear the experiences of entrepreneurs and meet people in Croatia who can help them fulfill their dreams.

For more information about the products and the NADES team, visit their website or social networks Linkedin and Twitter.

You can see what a working day at NADES design looks like in the video below:

Video from our youtube channel:

NADES design - a team that strives to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030

Video: https://drive.google.com/file/...

Subtitles: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HIx7kZLZPrfpW8NSur6D7MD0TpYmdQ5j/view?usp=share_link

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Sustainable Development Goals

Gender Equality
Reducing Inequality

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