An innovator’s journey from idea to market can be challenging and complicated—but also rewarding. Our Innovator Spotlight series explores how inventor-entrepreneurs in our network have evolved since they started their journey. Our goal is to share key learnings and best practices with early-stage science and technology inventors embarking on a path of innovation and entrepreneurship. Our latest Innovator Spotlight is Myriam Sbeiti, co-founder of E-Team, Sunthetics. The company has developed a solar-powered device to use during the chemical input phase of nylon production, helping eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing process.
What challenge did you seek to solve with your innovation and why?
Before starting Sunthetics, my co-founder Daniela Blanco and I were both working in the Modestino research group at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, where a lot of the projects revolve around the integration of renewable energies in chemical processes. As chemical engineers, we’re in tune with industry needs in terms of process efficiency and cost improvements, but we also see where there is room for progress, and sustainability is always at the forefront of our mind.
When we were able to prove the first working prototype for the manufacture of a Nylon 6,6 intermediate—a premium material used in a variety of sectors—it was a very key moment because our bigger vision started to look more concrete. There was a way to integrate renewables by using electrochemistry while also increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The fact that this could be done with Nylon 6,6 was even more compelling because it is such a widely used chemical that we feel we could have a real impact.
What have you learned along your innovation and entrepreneurship journey?
My entrepreneurship journey has been unlike any other. I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is finding solutions to completely new problems every day. I’ve been able to develop many new competencies from scratch—from negotiating contracts to navigating regulatory hurdles.
Tell us how you’ve integrated environmentally responsible practices into your innovation or process.
Our technology revolves around environmentally responsible practices, from reducing raw material usage and waste to using renewable sources of energy. In fact, it was during a VentureWell E-Team workshop that we reflected on how to reduce the environmental impact of our technology.
How has support from VentureWell impacted your innovation and venture?
VentureWell has been a catalyst for our development. They provide a healthy balance of business mentoring and support while also keeping in mind the feasibility and viability of a venture’s technology. The VentureWell E-Team program is one of the first programs to give us the support we needed as a hard-tech, capital-intensive company. In addition, the network we have built through VentureWell workshops has been invaluable for us. Whether we were looking for license negotiation or hiring advice, there is always someone willing to share their experiences.
What’s next for you?
We are focusing on scaling our technology and engaging in more serious conversations with potential customers. We’re in the process of hiring our first two employees to help us develop these larger reactors.
Learn more about our E-Team grant program.