#8M: "The contribution of women to science is huge"

Biologist, founder and CEO of Aravanlabs, Laura Macció, shares her experience as a leader in the field of science and business.
Publication date: 12/03/2020

For Laura Macció, biology is the "most beautiful" science, because "it is capable of revealing any secret of life". According to the biologist, "it is like studying magic". While studying to get her degree in Biological Sciences, she began working in a microbiological control laboratory and became especially interested in this area of knowledge.

One day, an electric generator broke in the private company she was working in and thus realized that Uruguay did not have the necessary culture means to do microbiological controls. For a while she continued working in the industry, but already with the projection of making her way alone and being her own boss. In 2014, with the financial support of the National Agency for Research and Innovation (ANII), she founded Aravanlabs, a pioneering company in microbiology, which was later joined by her partner Oscar Silvera.

Aravanlabs is the first biotechnology company to produce microbiological inputs, as well as to provide microbiological control services and introduce the concept of microbiological mapping applied to the food and pharmaceutical industries. The company won the EmprendO award from the newspaper El Observador, Emprendedores en la Mira and was a finalist as an innovative company in the ANII's Nova award. In addition, Macció was recognized in 2016 with the 8M Women Entrepreneurs Award, granted by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining (MIEM).

Aravanlabs is in the process of internationalization, and in 2020 it intends to set up an office in Paraguay, according to information published by El Observador in May 2019. In addition to research, the company currently offers more than 100 products and more than 70 microbiological control services.

The biologist faces multiple tasks in her company on a daily basis. Her activity includes the search for funding and strategic links, the design and fine-tuning of the product portfolio development, the relationship with suppliers, as well as market research and analysis. The great variety of activities she carries out could be a reason for fatigue, however, Macció finds his routine entertaining, precisely because of the variety of things she does and thanks to the team of people who are integrated into the company's strategic plan.

"That is the beauty of it all: the versatility that the different daily situations bring up. I find this very positive for personal life, for the personal and professional growth", the biologist commented.

The key to success, according to Macció, lies in self-criticism and in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each person. From this knowledge of themselves, people can be oriented to acquire the tools they need and achieve their optimum development.

"For me, training is fundamental and it also creates a good balance between the rational and the emotional aspects. The emotional is always the motor: if we do not love what we do, we may go very far, but we will feel a very big void. The emotional part must also be complemented with the rational, because if we do not provide ourselves with tools that give us objectivity, we are only going with our heart in hand," she said.

Rather than obstacles to women's entry into science, Macció sees opportunities and challenges. "It is an unfair situation that we must reverse, but it has given us women the possibility to develop and strengthen our skills. We must work to make it more equitable, so that we all have the same possibilities," she said.

"When human beings had a more religious world view, the power of the gods was concentrated in man. And when the power was transferred to science, it was also concentrated on man. That doesn't mean that our contributions weren't great, but that the visibility was different. Culture makes it so that when we are told about a scientist we tend to think about a man. These are cycles of humanity that are mutating. I think that we women are living a quite different story with respect to that", she concluded.

Just as there were women who fought for the rights they have today, today women are fighting for the rights that the women of tomorrow will enjoy, Macció meditated, "This builds us as a society. When this struggle reverses the situation of inequality, it brings value to society.