Mirjam Matti Gähwiler — 13.05.2020

Her mission could hardly be more topical: within the scope of her doctoral thesis, Michela Puddu researched a solution at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich that creates transparency in terms of product origin.

Michela Puddu
Michela Puddu 14 Rgb

“There are many digital solutions that can be used for assuring the traceability of products, but these are not integrated in the product itself and are therefore susceptible to manipulation,” Michela Puddu explains. For her it was clear that there is only one true solution: the product itself must have a distinctive identity. And it is only DNA that can provide this. At first glance it may seem relatively simple, but in fact the solution required four years of research. Together with her later cofounder, Gediminas Mikutis, Michela Puddu developed a liquid that can be integrated as a DNA marker into any material, for example cotton. Thus at every stage of the supply chain, a simple test can be carried out to clearly identify the utilised material (origin, authenticity, purity) so that an overall control is possible from start to finish.

Transparency is an essential requirement in the supply chain of the future.

Raise awareness

Once the solution had been developed it was clear that Michela Puddu would go on to establish a company. As CEO of Haelixa, however, her main focus of activity is no longer on research and development. “I have to travel a great deal to meet the managers of leading clothing brands in order to present our product.” But a certain amount of educational work is still required before she can outline and subsequently sell the advantages the Haelixa DNA marker has to offer. “The manufacturers are aware that they need to take action, because transparency will become much more important in the next few years. Restructuring entire supply chains and making them traceable is undoubtedly a major undertaking, but many of our partners are already anticipating a high return on investment and are planning the next steps to be taken with our solution. Transparency is an essential requirement in the supply chain of the future.”

Recognition

Michela Puddu’s work has not gone unnoticed: in 2019 she received the European Commission’s “Women Rising Innovator Award”. She is also a consultant for the Advanced Technology Adviser Group of the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (un/cefact).

Haelixa Ltd. is a spin-off from the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. It was established by Michela Puddu and Gediminas Mikutis, and currently employs eight staff. Haelixa provides reliable solutions for the traceability of products in order to secure the transparency and integrity of the supply chain for consumers.

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