Annett Rozek, CSO Terramera
Annett is a seasoned technology leader with 20+ years of experience in driving innovation and cross-disciplinary collaboration. She has a proven track record of spearheading new initiatives and taking them to the next level through rigorous testing and refinement.
Annett started as a Senior Scientist at Inimex Pharmaceuticals and contributed to the discovery of dusquetide. She later joined Terramera as
Chief Scientific Officer, where she played a critical role in launching the company’s first products and inventing Actigate technology, recognized as a World Changing Idea by Fast Company in 2020.
Annett holds an MSc in Chemistry from Humboldt University Berlin and a Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University. She actively supports women in tech and industry-academia collaboration. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking and skiing.
Q1. You started your career in Pharmaceuticals and got into BioAg. What motivated this transition?
My interest in plant extracts began during my work with pharmaceutical peptides. This fascination was accompanied by a degree of skepticism, dealing with a predominantly uncharacterized mixture made it challenging to pinpoint the exact factors responsible for the observed activity. I was driven to delve deeper into the realm of botanicals and uncover their untapped potential. Pharmaceutical research operates with a high level of sophistication and rigor, and I was confident that by applying its methods to the field of BioAg, we could produce top-quality products, and do so more rapidly.
Q2. What gives you the confidence to go forward, be a women leader in BioAg, and stand for what you truly believe in?
I have a strong sense of curiosity and the ability to craft ambitious visions, which serve as powerful motivators for me. Some have humorously described me as “unstoppable”. My confidence is derived from the remarkable individuals with whom I collaborate. They are the
driving force behind transforming ideas into reality. I firmly hold the belief that our diversity serves as our greatest asset, and I’ve witnessed teams achieve remarkable feats when everyone’s voice is acknowledged, and mutual appreciation prevails.
Q3. You advocate Advance Gender Equality, to fight stereotypes that limit women and girls’ beliefs in who they are – and who they could be. What would your advice be to a woman striving to make a place for herself in the BioAg Industry?
Step forward, make your voice heard, and ensure that your ideas and accomplishments are on display. It’s common to feel as if we lack sufficiency or that others may outperform us, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the responses you receive when you take that first step. This in turn boosts your confidence.
Q4. Have you ever felt treated differently than your male counterpart in the BioAg industry? Is it more challenging for women to grow to a leadership position? How did you overcome those hurdles?
During my tenure as a young postdoc researcher, I experienced a sense of being treated differently, not necessarily due to my gender, but because I was in the early stages of my career. I believe this challenge may apply to young individuals in general, as they strive to combat
biases from those who are more seasoned and experienced. To a certain extent, I believe we need to disregard our insecurities and be willing to risk failure. It’s important to focus on your objectives and aspirations, rather than being overly concerned with how people might see you.
More often than not, I was pleasantly surprised by how well things went, and I realized that my fears were unfounded.
Q5. What are your future goals for Terramerra and sustainable agriculture? How do you want to get there?
The technologies created by Terramera enhance biological crop protection, offering the potential to decrease the reliance on synthetic pesticides. We’ve established a robust experimental platform, supported by machine learning, and equipped with automated laboratory and growth chamber facilities. Our company is transitioning from solely marketing our products to a focus on collaborating with other enterprises interested in utilizing our technologies through licensing and enabling them to expedite the development of superior products by using our experimental platform. We firmly believe that partnerships represent the fastest and most efficient route toward sustainable agriculture.