26 January 2023 TB Members Calling


TB Members Calling #50 | Mariale Ortega: “As a researcher, becoming an entrepreneur was my best decision”

26 January 2023 TB Members Calling

Making the leap from science to business is complicated; the number of researchers who undertake and lead the technology transfer journey is low, a ‘rara avis’ that -when it happens- must be highlighted.

Química, física, bioingeniera y, desde 2021, emprendedora. María Alejandra Ortega Machuca (Maracaibo, 1986) graduated and postgraduated in Chemistry in Venezuela, and then went on to do a PhD in Physics at the UPC and the Institut de Ciències Fotòniques de Castelldefels, and worked for five years as a researcher at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC). Another example of how Catalonia has a consolidated scientific system capable of attracting excellent international talent..

But science, without innovation and impact on society, is of little use. After taking technology transfer courses at leading business schools, Mariale Ortega co-founded Vitala Technologies, an IBEC spin-off that uses hyperpolarised magnetic resonance techniques, intracellular technology and data analysis to test the efficacy and safety of pre-clinical drugs. Technology with impact.

“We are in the process of technical validation, running pilot tests, so we expect to make the commercial launch of our solutions during the last quarter of 2023.”.


TB: What is the purpose of your project?

MO: To be able to bring safer and more effective drugs to the clinical stages of Drug Discovery. Unlike other companies, at Vitala we act at an intracellular level in matrix organs, without destroying the cells, to see how they interact with the drug.


TB: A good idea you have had.

MO: Undoubtedly, making the decision to be an entrepreneur.


TB: A bad professional experience.

MO: My time as a doctoral student is not my best memory of my professional life, but it allowed me to grow and to appreciate what is really important in my life.


TB: The best advice you’ve ever been given.

MO: Put love into the little things of everyday life and it will make a difference.


TB: A professional reference that inspires you.

MO: All the women entrepreneurs I have met. Their successes and failures have been – and continue to be – models for me. In this sense, the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs programme has allowed me to discover many of their projects.


TB: A technology that will shape the future.

MO: ChatGPT or similar technologies using artificial intelligence.


TB: What are you worried about?

MO: People around me must be happy.


TB: A start-up.

MO: There are many I would like to name. But for their passion, leadership and impact on society I would highlight Doctomatic. I know personally how its co-founder Carmen Ríos and her excellent team works.


TB: A book to recommend.

MO: “Tu vida, tu mejor empresa”, by Esther Bauset.


TB: Una serie o película o canción que defina tu momento vital.

MO: I am a Tolkien fan and I think that “The Lord of the Rings” defines my life as an entrepreneur very well.


TB: A recipe, a meal, a restaurant.

MO: A recipe: my mother’s recipes, but I would highlight the quesillo and the chicken salad. One food: Italian food without a doubt. And a restaurant: Il Golfo di Napoli.


TB: A city, a journey.

MO: The city of Rome and the trip I made in 2019 to Porto with my family. Unforgettable!


TB: Where would you invest 100k?

MO: In Vitala 🙂


TB: And a million euros?

MO: I would put them in an investment fund for early-stage companies.


TB: If you were not an entrepreneur…

MO: I would love to be able to make my way as an investor or investment analyst.


TB: What is Tech Barcelona for you?

MO: A community and a pioneering space in Barcelona that encourages, motivates and makes Catalan technological and digital entrepreneurship visible.