Dr Rodrigo Molina (DPhil in Engineering Science) is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Natura Nova, Inc. with headquarters in Minnesota, USA. In 2008, Rodrigo became the first Oxford University VenCap scholar in engineering and entrepreneurship. Here he recounts how his time at Oxford played a key role in his journey founding an exciting biotech company and becoming an entrepreneur.
“I grew up in Chile and from an early age had a deep passion and interest in science. I followed my dream to the United States where I majored in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Upon graduation, I worked at Intel Corp for several years before continuing on to pursue scientific research at Oxford.
Nanoparticle and cell interaction research was the core of my work in Oxford, including advanced nanoparticle design and manufacturing, pathogen control, chemotaxis and plant sciences. I was supervised by Professor Ian Thompson, a progressive scientist who is always pushing the boundaries of knowledge with the efficiency that comes from his experience of working with major corporations, and Professor Peter Dobson, Director of Oxford University Begbroke Science Park and internationally recognised nanotechnologist. I also interacted with prominent scientists and world experts from other departments, which broadened my learning experience. Interdepartmental partnerships like these have driven scientific innovation in multidisciplinary fields and demonstrate how much can be learned beyond your degree at Oxford.
In the Department of Engineering Science, you find a setting of driven experts who constantly challenge the status quo. The professors, staff and students craft an exciting environment of innovation and social responsibility that challenges you to demonstrate excellence. My work at Oxford led me to patent a broad spectrum antimicrobial technology and I published several scientific publications. Upon graduation, I founded Natura Nova, a biotech company that develops technologies to empower farmers worldwide via better performance, yield, and efficiency in agriculture. My experience in Oxford has given me the preparation, knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in this competitive and innovative field.”