Why can’t a scientist also be an entrepreneur? Nuritas founder Dr Nora Khaldi spoke at Inspirefest 2016 about potential barriers to investment.

The efforts of Dr Nora Khaldi and Nuritas have not gone unnoticed internationally, with news last May that the company received €2m in funding from none other than Salesforce founder Marc Benioff.

Khaldi combines both the entrepreneurial spirit and scientific curiosity that she herself refers to as an idea that investors have trouble getting their heads around.

“Anyone that comes and tells you a scientist is not an entrepreneur is off their head,” Khaldi said on stage.

She went on to say that when she was first starting to pitch the idea of Nuritas to investors, it led to conversations where she was told to “not waste her time” trying to use AI to solve such problems.

Likewise, when she set out with a potential valuation of the company, she was told she would “absolutely never get it”, while the quality of staff she wanted was too advanced for a start-up.

“We have proven all this wrong many, many, many times,” Khaldi said, “so if anyone comes and tells you something is impossible, and you’re sane, then I think you’re doing something right.”

The challenge becomes even greater for women founders who – Khaldi said, from experience – often find themselves in male-dominated labs or businesses – but this can change with a little cooperation.

While Nuritas now has close to an even split between male and female employees, she said that it is up to women to help each other – otherwise, no one else will.

Words by Colm Gorey

Updated, 2.58pm, 15 November 2017: This headline has been updated to replace the word ‘engineer’ with ‘entrepreneur’.