Europe is known for its CVC units with Southern Europe launching more and more firms. Here are the women putting Southern Europe's venturing ecosystem on the map.

21 women to watch in southern europe

Hopping from one continent to the next, Global Corporate Venturing’s continuous mission to find women in the CVC ecosystem continues. Following on from our piece on Women in CVC in the Middle East piece and we jump several hundred miles west to Europe.

Mediterranean Europe — which spans Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece is home not only to a unique culture and impressive natural scenery, but also houses major corporations including financial company Banco Santander, Assicurazioni Generali, the insurance company and Repsol, the energy and petrochemcial company.

Many of these corporations have launched successful venturing units such as Repsol Energy Ventures and Semapa Next, the corporate venturing unit of conglomerate Semapa. As the number of CVC units in the region has grown, so has the number of women in the region building successful careers as corporate venturers.

Now, GCV is showcasing the many women in Mediterranean Europe who are shaping the world of corporation venturing.

Our next list will continue to focus on the European region as we set our sights on Eastern Europe and The UK and France.

If you missed it, check out our series on CVC women in the US where we looked at women on the East Coast, women in the MidWest and American South and the 49 women on the West Coast.

Please also check out our previous lists on Women in the DACH region, key Women in Latin America’s corporate venturing world and CVC women in Asia.

Mariana Costa

EDP Ventures
Based in Lisbon, Portugal

Deep down, every corporate investor wants to be a part of something revolutionary – and Mariana Costa, principal at EDP Ventures is no different.

Costa joined EDP Ventures 11 years ago, motivated by the idea of helping to revolutionise the energy sector.

“I joined EDP Ventures when I was 23 years old. We were the first CVC to be set up in Portugal which is what drew me to EDP,” she says. “I was also drawn to the energy transition sector as there are plenty of challenges and opportunities to deal with in this industry.”

Costa’s role at EDP Ventures involves everything from sourcing startups to implementing investment deals as well as divestment strategies. She also manages the portfolio which contains many energy-focused startups. “EDP Ventures has a strong commitment on helping EDP to lead the energy transition. In my particular case, I’m leading all the investments related to networks and decarbonisation sectors,” says Costa.

In 2019, Costa served as a startup mentor at Web Summit, an annual technology conference based in Lisbon where she advised early-stage startups on growth strategy and fundraising. Prior to joining EDP, she also spent a year as a financial analyst at a family office (Partac) and another one as a trainee in Galp, the Portugal-based oil and gas company.

Costa says it can be a challenge to get a corporation to make investments at the speed startups and venture capitalists work. “Different speeds may be challenging to balance when we talk about internal and external shareholders,” she says. But Costa adds that the team at EDP Ventures has been managing this well. “I think that is also part of why the job is so engaging,” says Costa.

EDP Ventures was founded in 2008 and invests in seed to later-stage companies operating in the energy sector. The unit has 40 active companies in its portfolio including Terabase, an automated field factory for utility-scale solar construction, Green Li-ion, the lithium-ion battery recycler, and Captura, the direct ocean capturer of carbon.

Costa says that even though the corporate venture capital sector still needs more reform, she is pleased to see steps being taken to make it more gender diverse.

“All sectors, not just CVC, would benefit from a greater gender balance,” she says. “I do think that the sector is slowly becoming more balanced, though more work needs to be done, we are heading in the right direction.”

“The corporate venture capital sector is a very appealing sector for women. It is a good place to work and EDP Ventures itself has slowly become more diverse as we have +30% female professionals in our investment team,” Costa says.

Barbara Albizuri Richter

Prosegur Tech Ventures
Based in Madrid, Spain

Barbara Albizuri Richter is a director at Prosegur Tech Ventures, the corporate venture capital firm of Madrid-based multinational security company Prosegur.

Prosegur Tech Ventures was founded in 2016. The $32.3m firm invests in growth-stage startups in the IT, cybersecurity and financial solutions sectors. Prosegur Tech Ventures has nine companies in its portfolio such as the eldercare mobile app Durcal.

Richter been in her position at Prosegur Tech Ventures for over two years. Before this she spent four years as head of investments at Telefonica Innovation Ventures, the corporate venture capital firm of Spain-based telecommunications company Telefonica.

Ritcher also spent over ten years at Royal Bank of Scotland Business holding various positions including head of global networking banking in Spain and Iberian debt advisory and associate director. She was also a mergers and acquisitions associate at Citigroup for two years.

Elli Argyrou

Head of ventures and partnerships
Titan Cement Company
Based in Athens, Greece

Elli Argyrou is the head of ventures and partnerships at Titan Cement Company, an Athens-based producer of cement and building materials.

The Titan Cement Company is a $2.8bn corporation known for producing 27 million metric tonnes of cement a year. The company has invested in several startups including Rondo Energy, a US-based energy equipment and solutions provider that raised $60m in funding in 2023.

Argyrou began her stint at Titan Cement Company in 2018 as a decarbonisation business and development manager. She then progressed to the chief of staff and accepted her current position as head of ventures and partnerships in 2023.

Prior to this, Argyrou was the sales and marketing manager at Filia Environmental Industries, an industrial equipment supplier. She also spent over 20 years at S&B, a Luxembourg-based mining company, where she held various positions such as business development associate and global marketing and application centre environment manager.

Sofia Brunelli

Corporate venture capital analyst
A2A Ventures
Based in Milan, Italy

Sofia Brunelli is a corporate venture capital analyst at A2A Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Italy-based utilities company A2A.

A2A Ventures is investing in the development of a circular economy and energy transition. The firm focuses on seed to early startups in Europe and Italy with an average investment ticket between $538k to $3.2m.

Brunelli came to her current role a year ago after working at the company as an innovation specialist. She is also a research fellow at Aware, a social think tank. Brunelli also was a project intern in the energy community team at Enel X.

Brunelli attended Luiss Guido Carli University where she acquired a Bachelor’s degree in political science and government and a Master’s degree in law, digital innovation and sustainability.

Suzanna Chiu

Amadeus Ventures
Based in Madrid, Spain

Suzanna Chiu is the head of Amadeus Ventures, the corporate venture capital firm of Spain-based software company for the travel and tourism industry Amadeus IT Group.

Amadeus Ventures was founded in 2014 and makes minority investments in early-stage startups in the travel and technology sectors focusing on mobile, digital marketing and internet industries. The firm has 10 companies in its portfolio and has invested in 30 companies such as post-booking revenue services provider Volantio, travel data startup Journera, and navigation systems provider Situm.

Chiu has been the head of Amadeus Ventures for over ten years. She began her stint at Amadeus IT Group as a senior manager of strategic planning, a position she held for nearly two years.

Before joining Amadeus IT Group, she was a senior manager for four years at Macquarie Capital Group, a subsidiary of the financial services company Macquarie Group, where she focused on M&A transactions in the telecoms and technology sectors. Chiu was also a lead consultant at Sesami for two years and a consultant at Accenture for another two years.

Gema García González

Director of corporate venturing, open innovation and business development
Repsol Energy Ventures
Based in Madrid, Spain

Gema García González is the director of corporate venturing, open innovation and business development at Repsol Energy Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Spain-based multinational energy and petrochemical company Repsol.

Repsol Energy Ventures was founded in 2016 and invests in startups focusing on low carbon and circular economy and advanced mobility and renewables. The firm has 20 companies in its portfolio and has invested in 39 startups including liquid injection engine manufacturer Begas, and green supply chain technology management developer Finboot.

González is a company veteran at Repsol, starting at the company 25 years ago as an energy efficiency projects technician. She has held various positions such as climate change manager and head safety and environmental management systems before progressing into the company’s investment division.

In 2016, González became the investment manager of circular economy at Repsol Energy Ventures. She has held other positions in the CVC unit, including manager of experimentation and open innovation and corporate venturing, open innovation and technology business development manager. She has held her current position for over a year.

Carmen García Márquez

Portfolio and investment manager
Enagás Emprende
Based in Madrid, Spain

Carmen García Márquez is the portfolio and investment manager of Enagás Emprende, the corporate venture capital firm of Spain-based natural gas transmission company Enagás.

Enagás Emprende was founded in 2016 and invests in energy transition startups focusing particularly on renewable gases, carbon and sustainable mobility. The firm has 11 companies in its portfolio and has invested in 20 startups such as gas company Scale Gas and renewable energy source developer Hygen.

The firm has also overseen four startups exit including consulting and gas inspection services provider Vira Gas Imaging which was acquired by Inerco, a sustainable industrial development in 2020.

Márquez has been at Enagás Emprende for four years. Before this, she was a manager for two years at Impact Hub Madrid. She was also an investment manager for three years at Faraday Venture Partners, a pan-European venture capital firm.

Márquez attended Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, where she acquired a Bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Irene Gomez

Based in Madrid, Spain

Irene Gomez is the chief executive of Wayra, the corporate venture accelerator of Spain-based telecommunications company Telefónica.

Wayra was founded in 2011 and is the main open innovation programme that connects Telefónica with entrepreneurs. The firm typically invests in technology-based startups in the telecommunications sector with 370 companies in its portfolio including nutrition app Indya, white label software solutions provider Sceenic and AI video generator LiveLink.

Gomez has held her current position for four years. She began working for Telefónica’s subsidiary Telefónica Soluciones Outsourcing in 2006 as an IT project manager. She then moved to Telefónica, holding various positions including digital product director and global product manager for information security products.

Beforehand, Gomez was a product engineer for a year at Aastra, a Canada-based telecommunications company. She also attended Universitat Ramon Llull and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

Nigar Ibrahimova

Investment director
Eni Next
Based in Milan, Italy

Nigar Ibrahimova is an investment director at Eni Next, the corporate venture capital firm of Italy-based energy and oil company Eni.

Eni Next invests in sustainability mobility, energy storage and CCUS-focused startups. The company has 15 companies in its portfolio and has invested in 22 startups such as ocean carbon capture technology developer Captura and battery storage startup Avanti Battery.

Ibrahimova began working at Eni in 2008 as a business development adviser in equity transportation. She held other positions at Eni such as manager of M&A before accepting her current position in February 2023.

Before this, Ibrahimova was an associate in M&A in the metals and mining division at Nomura International for a year. She was also a finance director for two years at Azpetrol Group, an oil services company, and was a senior auditor for a year at Ernst & Young.

Laura Jornet Mutlló

Investment Associate
Sabadell Venture Capital
Based in Barcelona, Spain

Laura Jornet Mutlló is an investment associate of Spain-based financial services company Banco de Sabadell’s corporate venture capital firm Sabadell Venture Capital.

Sabadell Venture Capital was founded in 2015 and invests in startups in digital and technology sectors. The firm has 76 companies in its portfolio and has invested in over 130 startups including payment technology platform Ritmo, e-learning platform Twenix and space technologies and IoT provider Fossa Systems.

Mutlló has held her current position for under a year. Prior to this, she was a dealflow manager for two years at Lanzadera, a Spain-based accelerator and spent another two years at Deloitte as an M&A transactions advisory services analyst.

Mutlló has attended Guanghua School of Management at Peking University under an exchange programme. She also studied business strategy and international political and economic trends and business administration and law at Georgetown University.

Luisa Marotta

Innovation specialist, venture building and scouting
Terna Forward
Based in Rome, Italy

Luisa Marotta is an innovation specialist, venture building and scouting at Terna Forward, the corporate venture capital arm of Italy-based transmission system operator Terna Group.

Terna Forward is a $54m corporate fund founded in 2022. The firm invests in startups developing new technology for energy transition focusing on robotics, technology for monitoring assets and other solutions supporting the energy transition. Terna Forward has invested in Wesii, an AI-based aerial inspection services provider, which raised $3.1m in a funding round in 2024.

Marotta has held her position at Terna Forward for two years. Her role requires her to scout startups, manage dealflow generation as well as deal management.

Beforehand, Marotta was at Acea, a Rome-based multi-utliity company, for four years. She held various positions such as a data analyst and innovation specialist. Marotta briefly was a data scientist at TIM, a telecommunications and IT company.

Michal Mashall

Portfolio and community manager
Semapa Next
Based in Lisbon, Portugal

Michal Mashall is the portfolio and community manager at Semapa Next, the corporate venture arm of Semapa, a Portugal-based industrial conglomerate.

Semapa Next, founded in 2018, aims to diversify its portfolio gain exposure to promising startups and bring Semapa closer to new business models. The firm has 12 companies in its portfolio including satellite vegetation management platform Overstory and food wellness platform Kencko.

Other notable investments include Oceano Fresco, a sustainable seafood producer that raised $6.4m in a series B round in 2021.

Mashall accepted her current position in September 2023. Prior to this, she spent five years at Facebook holding various positions including startups programme manager in Israel and marketing operations manager for the Playground Ecosystem Hub.

Mar Masso

Manager Innovation
Grifols Innovation and New Technologies
Based in Barcelona, Spain

Mar Masso is the manager of innovation at Grifols Innovation and New Technologies (GIANT), the venture capital arm of Spain-based pharmaceuticals and chemical manufacturer Grifols.

GIANT was launched in 2021. The firm invests in startups developing new therapies and healthcare technologies. Companies that GIANT has invested including antibody treatment developer for HIV Albajuna Therapeutics, and research and development company for neurodegenerative diseases Araclon Biotech.

Masso has held her position at GIANT for two years. She was at Bionure, a clinical-stage biotechnology company for eight years holding positions such as managing director, R&D director and project manager.

In addition, Masso was at healthcare and biotechnology company Thrombotargets for four years, where she was the head of molecular screening department and pharmacology division.

Petronio Michela

Steering committee member
BluFuture VC
Based in Milan, Italy

Petonio Michela is a steering committee member at BluFuture Venture Capital, the corporate venture arm of Italy-based food and pasta producer Barilla.

BluFuture Venture Capital supports startups innovating sustainable solutions for the food sector. Notable startups in its portfolio include culinary robotics startup Aitme, plant-based foods manufacturer Allplants and textiles circular economy company reBlend.

Michela joined BluFuture in 2022 and has been a part of Barilla Group for over 30 years. Starting off as a product development manager she has held various positions at Barilla Group including senior innovation manager, global discovery centre vice president and new technology platform bakery senior manager.

Alongside this, she is the president of Italian candy manufacturer Pastiglie Leone, a position she has held for five years.

Alba Molina Marcos

Innovation project manager
Cuatrecasas Acelera
Based in Barcelona, Spain

Alba Molina Marcos is an innovation project manager at Cuatrecasas Acelera, the corporate accelerator of Spain-based laws firm Cuatrecasas.

Cuatrecasas Acelera, founded in 2016, is the first accelerator programme launched by a Europan law firm. It invests in startups focusing on legal tech and innovations in the legal sector. The accelerator has supported startups including blockchain digital assets manager Token City, circular economy startup Therminer and healthcare online toolkit

Marcos began working at Cuatrecasas in 2018 starting off in the law firm’s IT department. She moved to her current position in 2018.

Marcos attended Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Universitat Oberata de Catalunya.

Belen Moscoso del Prado Gonzalez

Corporate venturing manager
EIT Food
Based in Madrid, Spain

Belen Moscoso del Prado Gonzalez is the corporate venturing manager of the food innovation organisation EIT Food, part of the EU-supported European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Founded in 2016, EIT Food runs an accelerator that invests in the food, technology, nutrition, agriculture and aquaculture sectors. The firm has 393 startups in its portfolio and has invested in 461 companies including food biotech company Onego Bio, fresh food online marketplace Hortee and AI-powered precision irrigation platform Seabex.

Gonzalez has held her current position for a year, leading corporate venturing initiatives in Southern Europe by helping corporations tap into the startup ecosystem to invest in this space.

Gonzalez was the the founder of consulting firm OnestaLab which was launched in 2015. She was the chief operating officer of the venture capital firm Decelera for three years and worked at LogistaDis for four years as a chief marketing officer and retail channel manager.

Liliana Northback

Venture partner in life sciences
Neva Sgr
Based in San Francisco, US

Liliana Northback is the venture partner in life sciences at Neva Sgr, the corporate venture capital firm of Italy-based international banking group Intesa Sanpaolo.

Neva Sgr was founded in 2020 and invests in seed to later-stage companies in Europe and Italy focusing on the business products, financial services, healthcare and IT sectors. The firm has 31 companies in its portfolio and has invested in close to 40 startups such as the ground segment as a service solutions provider Leaf Space, and cancer neoantigen therapeutics developer NeoPhore.

Northback has been venture partner for life sciences at Neva Sgr for a year. She is a board observer for portfolio company Tr1X, a biotechnology company focusing on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. She has also co-founded HDR editing biotechnology company Kamau Therapeutics.

Previously, Northback was the chief executive officer of TreBiome, an incubator of microbiome biotechnology companies. She was also a co-founder, chief financial officer and turnaround CEO for 17 years at NorCom Information Technology, a Germany-based IT services company.

Cristina Novais

Bright Pixel Capital Sonae
Based in Porto, Portugal

Cristina Novais is the chief financial officer of Bright Pixel Capital, the corporate venture capital firm of Portugal-based retail corporation Sonae.

Founded in 2015, Bright Pixel Capital invests in companies focusing on cybersecurity, retail technology and infrastructure software sectors. The firm has 41 companies in its portfolio and has invested in close to 80 startups including advertising technology company Mayan, Saas-tool Jentis and Sekoia, the cybersecurity company.

Novais joined Bright Pixel Capital in 2013, working first in the company’s mergers and acquisitions division and then moving to the planning and control department before accepting her current position in 2020.

She also works for Sonae’s telecommunications subsidiary Sonaecom for 20 years as a financial controller and is now a board member, a position she has held for four years. Prior to this, Novais was an auditor for Deloitte for three years.

Novais attended the Universidade de Porto from 1995 to 2000.

Vittoria Pavoncello

Investment Associate
Zcube Zambon Research Venture
Based in Milan, Italy

Vittoria Pavoncello is an investment associate at Zcube Zambon Research Venture, the corporate venture accelerator of Italy-based pharmaceutical and medication developer Zambon Pharma.

Zcube Zambon Research Venture was founded in 2016. The accelerator seeks innovators developing digital healthcare solutions, with the 2024 programme focusing on the femtech sector such as gynecology and mental and reproductive health. Zcube Zambon Research Venture selects up to five startups and provides $109k in investment and provides mentoring programmes and market access.

Pavoncello joined Zambon three months ago. She was previously an investment analyst for the biotech venture fun Indaco Bio Fund, a subsidiary of Indaco Venture Partners.

Pavoncello also worked as an investment analyst in the biotechnology division of XYence Capital, an Italy-based fund manager.

Francesca Protano

Ventures managing director and director of corporate development
CNH Industrial Ventures
Based in Modena, Italy

Francesca Protano is the venturing managing director and director of corporate development of Italy-based agricultural machinery company CNH Industrial’s corporate venture fund CNH Industrial Ventures.

CNH Industrial Ventures is an evergreen fund launched in 2022 and invests in agriculture, construction, industrial and business products sectors. The fund has invested in companies including soil data measurement company EarthOptics and electric tractor maker Monarch Tractor.

A company veteran, Protano has been working at CNH Industrial for 18 years. She started off an electronic engineer and has held various positions such as engineering operational planner and precision solution and telematics platform manager.

Protano then moved to CNH’s corporate venturing division working as the director of M&A in 2019 before accepting her current position in 2021.

Protano previously worked at Fiat Group’s research and development division Centro Richerche Fiat, holding positions such as mechatronic engineer and senior software development engineer.

Esperanza Torralba Roman

New ventures analyst
Cepsa New Ventures
Based in Madrid, Spain

Esperanza Torralba Roman is the new ventures analyst at Cepsa New Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Spain-based multinational oil and gas company Cepsa.

Cepsa New Ventures collaborates with companies that are focusing on decarbonisation, low-carbon technologies, circular economy and new mobility.

Roman started at Cepsa in 2021 in the technology development division. She has been in her current position since October 2022. Before this, she worked as a project development engineer at Ignis Energía, an energy company.

Roman attended Universidad de Sevilla studying mechanical engineering and energy specialisation. She also has a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering and energy specialisation at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

Roshini Bains

Roshini Bains is the junior news reporter for Global Corporate Venturing and Global University Venturing.