I am a genetic cocktail of Norwegian and Cypriot DNA raised in an international environment, which precipitated into what some call a “third culture” identity; a blend of contradiction with Mediterranean and Nordic culture. Barcelona is my latest home and I could not have picked a better place to feed my insatiable appetite for the ocean, paddle boarding in the summers and surfing in the winters (yes, you can surf here on a weekly basis), and generally anything outdoors with some adrenaline sprinkled on top; a couple of hours drive to the Pyrenees for hiking in the summers and skiing in the winters.
I also love music, with a near-criminal collection of obscure instruments from all over the world. I do play on occasion; piano, guitar and trumpet are my forte, with a particular interest in playing jazz and funk. You are just as likely to find me at the Palau de la Música enjoying the works of Chopin, to a Black Keys concert, to a dingy jazz “hole-in-the-wall”, to a Joris Voorn event.
A fascination with what makes us tick led me to study neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh with a focus on the biological basis of cognition and memory. I loved Edinburgh so much I stayed to pursue a masters in innovation and management focused on the bioeconomy as a segway into the healthcare innovation space. I ended up, after a stumble or two, at UCL in London where I stayed for four years working out of their commercialization and technology transfer company, UCLB. My time there introduced me to the world of early stage healthcare commercialization; bridging the realm of lab research to the real world through intellectual property strategy, to negotiating licensing deals, to startup company creation.
A yearning for a smaller city and sunshine led me to Barcelona to pursue an MBA at IESE business school; a two-year life-changing rollercoaster that only those with a similar experience can comprehend. I joined Nina Capital as an MBA summer intern and was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to stay. I could not have found a better place to call home.
I was born on the west coast of Canada, in Victoria BC, surrounded by the perfect blend of mountains, wildlife, and ocean. Chasing the big city dream, I moved to Toronto where I spent three years before jumping across the world to call the beautiful city of Barcelona my new home.
Starting at a young age, I found a love for science and innovation through competing in science fair competitions. I was fascinated by the underlying concepts of how things worked and discovered a newfound excitement in trying to design experiments to answer my questions. This led to some of my fondest memories as a kid, building prototypes that ranged from oil spill cleanup devices to new types of railroad tie sealant materials.
As University rolled around the corner, I chose to continue my pursuit of innovation by enrolling in engineering at the University of Victoria. Originally set on going into electronics design, a personal battle with the hospital system inspired me to switch degrees and dedicate my career to building medical devices. Starting in my local community, I founded a design team that focused on inventing solutions for patients with problems that were not addressed by the healthcare system. This served as my first introduction to interacting with real patients and clinicians, which further fueled my excitement to make an impact in the clinical community. Breaking into the industry, I started off as a researcher in the field of biomechanics and orthopedic technologies. As research quenched my appetite for technology, I still craved an opportunity for true clinical immersion. This led to me pursuing a medical invention fellowship focused on the methods of the Stanford Biodesign Program.
Following this program, I went on to work as an engineer at the premier medical device contract and manufacturing firm in Canada, Starfish Medical. In an unplanned series of events, one phone call led to an opportunity to co-found a company focused on creating advanced monitoring solutions for patients with congestive heart failure. This turned into an amazing three-year experience as a Chief Operating Officer and resulted in the innovation of the first portable and non-invasive device for measuring pulmonary artery pressure.
When choosing what to do next, my personal fascination with the fundraising process drew me to the world of Venture Capital. This led me to meet Marta and Marc and discover one of the most unique teams I had ever come across. These conversations convinced me to jump across the world and join their mission of helping healthtech founders at the earliest stage.
Outside of work, you will either find me enjoying Barcelona’s vibrant music scene or playing sports, still in shock at not having to deal with Canadian winters. When not grooving to tunes or on the court, I am usually caught exploring the city, searching for the next best dive bar for tapas and a good craft beer.
MARTA GAIA ZANCHI
I was born in the pre-alpine landscape of the North of Italy, in a narrow Valley full of small villages and high-elevation passes provided only with narrow steep trails and mule tracks. Milano, where I moved as a teenage student and lived for five years, was to my village what Mars is to Earth. From Citta’ Studi in 2005, moving to California seemed an easy intergalactic jump—and there I stayed for fourteen years, in and around the outskirts of Stanford in the heart of Silicon Valley. All in pursuit of always the same one desire: improve healthcare with the use of technology.
In middle school, I briefly contemplated becoming a physician, but a persistent habit of dismantling home appliances and tampering with souped-up motorbikes quickly revealed my nerdy side. Most importantly, I was stubbornly convinced that technology could be for doctors what capes are for superheroes. I studied biomedical and electrical engineering, from a bachelor's at Politecnico di Milano to a doctorate at Stanford University, training as a system designer of medical instrumentation—mostly imaging systems leveraging all radiation types known to man. The jokes about their residual effects on my personality abound.
In 2007 I took a class on the Biodesign health technology innovation process, and something inside of me resonated deeply. Upon graduation a few years later, I joined the Biodesign community as a faculty member of the Stanford School of Medicine and founding director of the Center’s digital health programs. Here I was privileged to enjoy a decade of learning from my colleagues; hundreds of students, residents, and physicians; and the broader ecosystem of innovators and their investors for whom this special University continues to be an inescapable center of gravity.
An application of the Biodesign process led me to create Nina Capital as a way to invest in and serve a growing generation of European need-driven founders at the intersection of healthcare and technology to support their businesses’ international ambitions. I was drawn to the potential that Barcelona, Spain, offered to launch the firm. I was right: it was here that I met my amazing teammates.
I am the proud adoptive mother of two little rascals, Zac and Nina. I am constantly chasing my children with a camera. I keep strong enough to keep up with them by swimming, biking, and indulging an unexpected passion for boxing, which offers me surprisingly accurate analogies with life outside the ring. Since learning to read, I have had an unhealthy obsession with books—primarily psychology, history, art, philosophy, and memoirs—which I compulsively organize by height and color in single thematic shelves. I am also a graphic novel enthusiast, endlessly debating with myself about whether my Calvin & Hobbes encyclopedia belongs in the comics or philosophy bookshelf.
I was born in Israel, and here I grew up in a small place tucked away in the mostly empty land between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Life in Tel Aviv was better suited for my personality, and I called this cosmopolitan city home for eight years before the warmth of the weather and of the people of Barcelona caught my imagination.
I have a creative soul with an analytical mind—the very obvious result of growing up in a family made of artists on one branch of the tree, and accountants on the other. My appetite for testing new things led me very early to try any kind of medium in plastic art from oil painting to carving in marble. Growing up with a passion for art, I was certain to eventually become an Architect. This was not a passing phase: I carried this ambition for eight years. All it took was one lecture in the school of Architecture to change my mind, leading me to the resolution that what I really wanted to do is conquer the world. Just kidding.
Jokes aside, I really was increasingly intrigued by the powers that move the world. To study Law and Economics felt a natural choice to satisfy this curiosity. Before proceeding to world domination, however, I had to travel and learn more about it. With a 15kg bag on my back I hiked through the mountains of Chile and chilled at the beaches of Costa Rica, resulting in a new desire to engage in an international environment.
Having returned to Israel and fast forwarding to years later, I began working for a large investment house in Israel, investing in Alternative Assets. Specifically, I was sourcing, analyzing, and negotiating opportunities for investment in private companies, VC/PE funds, and Hedge funds. I love being challenged and creating challenges—and the investment world was filled to the brim with hard problems to solve, new strategies, and ideas predicated on weak assumptions.
However, the desire for an international experience had never truly left me. It eventually led me to pursue a two-year MBA program at IESE business school in Barcelona. My inner architect was also restless, constantly wanting to build. This is what led me to Nina Capital. One email led to an MBA summer internship and eventually to a very fortunate opportunity to stay and work.
When I am not working, I am probably working out in the gym, roaming the streets of Barcelona with my marvelous (and slightly spoiled) rescue dog, or simply enjoying a glass of wine in one of the many breathtaking terraces that Barcelona has to offer.
Born and raised in the vibrant city of Madrid to Lebanese parents, I was instilled with a global perspective from a young age. Having lived in diverse regions, including Spain, the Middle East, the UK, and the US, I've always embraced the identity of a 'citizen of the world.' While the many moves during my childhood were frustrating, my unwavering passion for healthcare remained a constant. In Lebanon, I dedicated my time to volunteering at hospitals and refugee camps; in Spain, I eagerly shadowed skilled surgeons; and during my time in the US, I immersed myself in summer camps geared towards nurturing young aspiring clinicians and scientists.
These experiences ultimately shaped my academic and professional journey. I pursued a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences in the UK and found my true calling in researching practical solutions to immediate healthcare challenges. Following my undergraduate studies, I pursued a Master's in Research, specializing in Medical Device Design and Entrepreneurship at Imperial College. Here, I felt like a child in a playground of innovation.
During this time, I developed a microfluidic in vitro diagnostic device designed to personalize the treatment of ovarian cancer and delved into the intricacies of advancing pioneering technologies. A business plan later, we patented the device, completed feasibility studies, and spun out the company with nothing but a 3D-printed scrappy prototype. One year into this exciting journey, I made the difficult decision to transition to a young startup focused on digitizing biomarkers to measure brain health. My work there led me to another one specializing in remote patient monitoring, which had started gaining significant traction within the NHS. Throughout several pilots, partnership agreements, and secured contracts, my passion for early-stage ventures rekindled.
My quest for supporting and nurturing emerging digital health companies found its next chapter when I joined a boutique consultancy in London. In this role, I've had the privilege of offering my expertise to small digital health companies, assisting them with market access strategies, fundraising, and navigating the complex landscape of software-as-a-medical-device regulation.
Two years later, I find myself writing this from a desk at Nina Capital, a remarkable culmination of my journey thus far. As I embark on this new chapter, I carry with me a profound appreciation for the intricacies of healthcare innovation, the resilience required for early-stage ventures, and a stubborn commitment to fostering groundbreaking solutions for today’s pressing healthcare challenges. Outside of work, it is very likely that you’ll find me at pottery class, reading on the beach, or trying out the latest restaurant in Barcelona!
Born in Barcelona, I was raised in an entrepreneurial and international environment. The son of a Swiss mother and a Catalan father, I grew up watching my family build a successful entrepreneurial venture in the textile industry and attending the Escuela Suiza, a local Swiss school and one of the oldest international schools in Barcelona, as a kid.
Speaking several languages and traveling was a gift that opened my eyes to the global world. After studying Economics in Barcelona and in The Netherlands, I pursued an MBA at IESE Business School. The entrepreneurship class awakened my entrepreneurial spirit and led me to co-found Advance Medical.
Starting and growing Advance Medical, which eventually became a pioneering and multinational telehealth company, was a fascinating life experience. For 20 years, my co-founder and I established operations in more than ten countries with a global workforce of over one thousand workers to help tens of thousands of patients every day around the world.
When Advance Medical was acquired by US-based TELADOC, I was ready to move forward to new challenges. One meeting with Marta during one of her first trips from California to Spain was enough to understand that Nina Capital was exactly the next thing I wanted to do: build a Venture Capital firm based in my city, Barcelona, and ready to support European need-driven founders building health tech companies with international ambitions.
That this remarkable concurrence of events--her first landing in Barcelona, my exiting Advance Medical after an adventure two decades long--occurred without apparent causal connection is yet more proof that so much of life is about timing, and is one the ingredients that makes Nina Capital’s origin story special.
Born in a tiny village in the middle of the French Champagne region, from a long line of farmers, I was the first one in the family to leave the countryside. I caught the travelling virus after spending a year in Valencia, Spain where I fell in love with the country and the culture.
After finishing my Master in English in France and spending three years in the UK selling spare parts for trucks (a memorable time), my heart followed its path back to Spain, taking me to Barcelona to do my MBA. A fortunate encounter randomly brought me to the digital health world. It was love at first sight, from day one, and it has been 10 years already. I started working for a startup with the best boss: a passionate serial entrepreneur and a great mentor who also became my partner in crime in organizing regular meetings bringing the local digital health ecosystem together.
After three years in the startup and a few months exploring Silicon Valley and its digital health ecosystem, I came back to Europe focusing on what makes me the happiest: helping young entrepreneurs with amazing digital health solutions to get to the market to eventually have an impact on the healthcare system, and especially on patients and healthcare professionals. I pursued that goal by working for international conference organizers, pharmaceutical companies and European-backed projects, always with a focus on startups.
I was fortunate to be able to work while traveling throughout Europe, US, Asia, and beyond, which in turn gave me a broad network and turned me into the digital health connector that I am today. During those years and across many projects, the world of investing has always been a sweet spot for me, from organizing events to helping startups be ready for fundraising and connecting them to investors.
A coffee in the sun with Marta led to me joining the Nina Capital team to support the firm's effort to support their network activities and grow their online footprint.