Ana Maiques: the story of chasing a dream

The Newspaper El País and the Santillana Foundation organised the seventh edition of “The Country with Your Future” last December. An event where student attendees have the chance to listen in first person to professionals that they want to be similar to. The goal of these talks is to inspire and help students to guide their future.

One of the most important professional life decisions of a person happens when they choose which studies they are going to take. This can be an overwhelming process when being 16 to 18 years old and you are not sure where life is going to take you. 

Our CEO, Ana Maiques, had the chance to present in the past edition with one moving story: how to follow your own dreams.

“I am going to tell you how I started my own career. When I was 18 years old, I did not know much of what I wanted to be professionally, I only knew two things: that I loved maths and that I wanted to leave a better world” she said to the students while opening her talk. Ana continued by explaining how she and her co-founder, Giulio Ruffini, had the chance of becoming entrepreneurs when the company they were working for filed for bankruptcy. They started investigating in space because they thought this could help climate change and also neuroscience as the brain itself is still a big unknown. 

To put us a bit in context, with the passage of time, some countries like Spain have been facing an unemployment problem as well as young people having a serious issue to get a suitable job due to lack of experience. During the recent years most of academia, politicians, media and governments have shown a lot of interest in entrepreneurship – as it has the power to create economic and social progress, provide employment and foster technological innovation. 

Neuroelectrics, founded by Ana Maiques and Giulio Ruffini in Spain in 2000, developed a technology that allows to read the brain activity (EEG) through a hat and build a 3D brain model. This hat contains electrodes, which inject small amounts of painless electrical stream, to stimulate the areas of the brain seen on the previous scan and improve different brain pathologies such as: epilepsy, depression or Alzheimer. 

“In this technology there are many different areas involved: electronic engineers, hardware and software specialists, mathematicians, physicists and more.” says Ana, “all these people help us achieve that these electrical streams get to the brain correctly to help lots of patients all over the world, with the advantage of doing it from home too”. 

It is science that helps us understand the activity on our brain, but it is our product and hardware, biomedical and electronics engineers that help us build the technology used at Neuroelectrics. “There are plenty of different disciplines that can help patients. After a study in Massachusetts we were able to reduce epileptic attacks to children that were not responding to medicine, after 10 days of 20 minute sessions with our solution.” Ana explains, “we are creating a new therapy that did not exist before.

Pursuing a career in engineering is interesting and fun, it involves a lifetime of continuous learning to adapt to changes in society and the world. It is a very worthwhile profession, and the results, when you succeed, can be incredibly satisfying, as we have seen at Neuroelectrics.

There is not a single definition of entrepreneurship and different authors have defined it differently. For Ana, science and entrepreneurship has been the mechanism in which she has been able to accomplish her dreams. She urges the students to take a moment on every decision to think: “ in this path or decision that I need to take, what is the motivational factor? What is what I believe I need to do? Where do I want to go from here? – You need to listen to yourself and be perseverant, big dreams take time but little by little you can accomplish anything. This generation can have a great impact.

Evolution and progress are part of our human condition and role models are a great source of motivation. It is extremely important that we take some time as professionals to influence the upcoming generations and help them adopt entrepreneurship as a career choice to help them follow their dreams. There are many ways in which this can be done: necessary business information, sharing knowledge, moral support… Ana Maiques chose to encourage students to follow their dreams by providing a successful story: how to identify your dream, exploit it and make it an opportunity. 

As Elena Sevillano mentions on her article in El País, ” If you haven’t already, you’d better read the talk by Ana Maiques. Although you might not be interested in science or neurotechnology, or the wireless cap that reads brain activity, this hat injects electrical currents and is used for treating patients with Alzheimer’s or epilepsy. Because what Maiques recommends is “to let yourself be carried away by your own dreams”, although these might not lead onto a straight road. “

Watch the full presentation of Ana Maiques here.

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