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EIT Manufacturing: The winners of the RIS LEADERS competition 2022 have been selected

Megi Mejdrechova, Denise Pezzuoli, and Valeria Chiono were awarded first, second, and third prize respectively with EUR 10 000, EUR 7 500 and EUR 5 000 in prize money.

Their co-competitors Paola Bonesu, Sofija Daceva, and Soraya Gadit will receive two months of business mentoring for their participation in the finals.

First Prize

Megi Mejdrechova won with her presentation of the motion imitating robot RoboTwin. RoboTwin can be trained to mimic the movements of industrial paint-shop painters and do their job, reducing the time that the painters spend doing repetitive movements in an unfavourable environment.

I’m happy I could present my work to the international audience, and I’m honoured by the award. It motivates me to keep working hard and I’m sure it motivates other girls and women to try out the world of tech. The RoboTwin team is again one step closer to our goal – saving humans from doing unhealthy routine manual jobs in the age of automation. Many thanks to EIT Manufacturing for supporting projects like ours.


By addressing manufacturing operations that are difficult to automate, RoboTwin brings a key piece of the puzzle towards the re-industrialization of Europe. 


Second prize

Denise Pezzuoli convinced the jury with her presentation of SanChip lubricant monitoring for predictive maintenance. SanChip lowers the financial and environmental cost of lubricant change in machinery like wind turbines and reduces downtime. A process that is usually carried out in a laboratory can now be integrated into the machines themselves, combining several analyses.

It is an honour to have taken part in this event, and I am very proud of the result achieved. Thanks to EIT Manufacturing for the award and highlighting women’s contribution to innovation and entrepreneurship. I hope I can be an example for all the other women who want to revolutionise this sector! 


I was personally impressed by the step-change potential in terms of efficiency and speed of answer of SanChip monitoring solutions for the wind industry and felt that the award was well-deserved for Denise Pezzuoli as the co-founder and CTO of SanChip SRL. 


Third prize

Valeria Chiono brought the jury into the nanoscale world with her presentation of polymer hybrid nanocarriers, POLHYRNATECH, for non-viral RNA therapy. The nanocarriers are safe, efficient, and cell-specific delivery vehicles. The business model for POLHYRNATECH is already outlined until 2028 and will also include in vitro and in vivo validation.

This award represents a great recognition for the tremendous efforts my team and I are putting towards the translation of research outputs from the BIORECAR ERC project into efficient and cell-specific RNA delivery therapies. Thanks to this prestigious award from EIT Manufacturing, we hope to reach higher visibility, to establish new collaborations and to attract investors for supporting and/or expanding our product portfolio. 


Valeria has demonstrated excellent skills and expertise, which has enabled her to make a substantial contribution and play a key part in the development of the POLHYRNATECH. 


The manufacturing industry is changing rapidly, moving away from physically demanding, often dirty tasks towards jobs that need brains and creativity. But women are often unaware of the options they could have in industrial environments. Niki Kousi, who holds a PhD in mechanical engineering and is now Managing Director of the Athens hub of EIT Manufacturing, shared that of the 170 students of mechanical engineering in her first year, only 15 were women.

Konstantinos Georgoulias pointed out that the RIS LEADERS competition draws attention to women who deserve to be in the spotlight for their great achievements. In the traditionally male-dominated environment of manufacturing, they are role models “and hopefully inspire more girls and women to take up a career in manufacturing.”

Everything in our lives comes out of a production process, so manufacturing touches all our lives every day. I can only encourage women to see this as an opportunity to shape our daily lives, employing their specific perspective and creativity in the manufacturing industry. 



The RIS LEADERS competition supports women innovators who want to make an impact on manufacturing, specifically in Regional Innovation Scheme-eligible countries according to the European Commission’s Innovation Scoreboard. From a first round of written applications, 30 applicants are selected and receive pitch training. In a second round, they submit a video pitch and candidates are narrowed down to six. These six finalists pitched in the framework of the EIT Manufacturing Summit Days 2022 on 17 November.