Going Green had the chance to sit down with Neelam Vaidya , the co-founder and CEO of ViridisChem. Neelam is a strong proponent of Green Chemistry. Since the ViridisChem’s inception, she has been leading its efforts in bringing critically needed software solutions that encourage and enable toxicity-focused product development throughout various industries. World pollution is one of the most urgent issues, so let’s learn more about how Neelam is utilizing technology to reduce pollution.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I am a serial entrepreneur, with expertise in building and bringing to market unique products that address critical needs of research communities worldwide. ViridisChem is the third company I launched after successful exit from my last company ChiroSolve in 2013.
I co-founded ViridisChem with the goal of developing software products that would provide comprehensive toxicity-related information to scientists within pharmaceutical, agrochemical, cosmetics, textile, and household products manufacturers.
We have built one of the largest and highly curated toxicity database containing over 90 million chemicals, 3 billion properties; and have launched a software product that provides over 48 physical and toxicological properties, chemical’s occupational and health related threshold information, and detailed ecological, health and safety scores of every existing chemical, whether it is known or proprietary or even new drug-targets. Based on the specific product development technical requirements, the product also recommends commercially viable chemical alternatives that are less toxic, in-expensive, and available in large quantities. Very soon we will be expanding our offerings to provide mixture or formulation toxicity profiles, and toxicity footprint of product development processes.
What is a fun fact about you?
When someone says that “something is impossible to build and deliver”, I hear “we really must put our minds together to build this”. I am driven by the challenges that require thinking out-of-the-box and enjoy building unique things.
What was your motivation to get into this industry?
Passion for sustainability and concern for the devastating and long-lasting impact of toxic and forever chemicals in our air, food, water quality, health, and our lifespan. I am especially worried about how aquatic and soil toxicity is affecting the animals, birds and marine life and in turn humans.
One of the major issues that contributes to air-water-soil toxicity is the industrial use of toxic chemicals, and disposal of resulting toxic waste.
I feel that empowering the chemists and engineers involved in product development, with critical toxicity information of the raw material they are selecting, the product they are delivering, and the waste they are generating will help companies worldwide in avoiding the use of toxic chemicals and minimizing the resulting toxic waste.
This is why we built ViridisChem’s chemical Analyzer that provides comprehensive toxicity profile of every chemical in easy-to-understand visual format. to their R&D staff scientists of companies from different sectors. We can help the companies in eliminating the generation of millions of gallons of toxic waste and minimize the demand for toxic chemicals.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
Our existence on earth and quality of life is dictated by our surroundings. By polluting this planet to the extent that it is causing drastic climate change and mass deaths of marine life, birds and animals is very alarming. In order to preserve quality of life for us and for future generations, we must act urgently and adopt sustainability in all walks of life. As the countries around the world are experiencing the devastating effects of climate change in terms of extreme weather, floods and wildfires, Climate Change and sustainability have become the most important topics today.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
I believe that sustainable lifestyle and sustainable manufacturing practices will be adopted worldwide, not just because the regulations are becoming stricter, but because companies are realizing this saves them money and efforts, avoids litigation risks and elevates their “good citizen” image. This will include the use of renewable energy, minimum use of toxic chemicals, adoption of safe disposal and recycling.
What can companies and the average person do to make a difference?
To minimize the Industrial toxicity impact, companies must adopt toxicity-focused R&D throughout product development, provide tools like ViridisChem’s Chemical analyzer to their R&D scientists to help understand the toxicity implication of their choice of raw material, and try to minimize the toxicity footprint within all the steps of manufacturing, either by using recycling or safe-disposal of the waste.
Average person can contribute and influence the sustainability adoption by being vigilant about the products they use by avoiding the use of the products that contain toxic chemicals, prefer products that are multi-use rather than disposable, recycle or dispose to maximize recycling.
Neelam, thank you for taking the time to share your experience utilizing technology to reduce pollution.
Neelam is going to be an upcoming guest on the Going Green Podcast. Going Green, hosted by Dylan Welch, interviews leading experts in cleantech, sustainability, media, finance, and real estate on the Going Green podcast. Tune in and subscribe to the podcast on Apple or Spotify to listen to interviews with leading cleantech and sustainable experts.