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Women Innovators

Florian Pestoni

At InOrbit we are driven to advance the positive impacts of robotics in the world. Our vision is that humans, robots and AI working together can drive radical improvements in productivity and solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges. We believe that we can be a catalyst to innovation and allow robotics companies to focus on their special sauce.

Our product team has embraced the customer development model, which means we are constantly learning from and validating hypotheses with our customers. We are inspired by our customers, who are solving exceedingly hard problems in industries as varied as retail, logistics, construction, maintenance, security, healthcare and agriculture to name a few.

To get our team aligned and pointed in the same direction, every few months we get together and agree on the highest priorities. We are very much building the rocket even as we accelerate towards the stratosphere and beyond, so our goal is to identify the biggest impact items and then give the teams room to iterate towards the best solution.

Last year we started using codenames for these multi-month milestones and taking turns at picking these names to help our inspiration. For the current one, we picked “Rita” after scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini. It seems appropriate that on the International Women’s Day we talk about her life story and scientific contributions.

Rita Levi-Montalcini won the Nobel prize in 1986 in recognition for her work on nerve growth factor, which promotes the growth and maintenance of the nervous system. She was a scientific entrepreneur and the first Nobel laureate to reach 100 years of age; she died on December 30, 2012.

During the 1930s, shortly after her graduation from medical school in Turin, Jews were barred from academic and professional activities. “I then decided to build a small research unit at home and installed it in my bedroom,” she wrote in her biographical notes. Later on, after immigrating to the US, she created a lab in Rome and split her time between the two locations. Her work centered on neurons and the nervous system, specifically nerve growth factors. She founded the European Brain Research Institute in 2002.

In this age of Artificial Intelligence, in which we are complementing biological neurons with artificial ones, it seems appropriate to recognize the impact of pioneers in neuroscience. Rita Levi-Montalcini fought through deeply entrenched sexism and anti-Semitism to do the thing she loved most. At InOrbit we are similarly driven and building a company that we hope will last over 100 years, helping extend human intelligence to the stars.