New nanosilver containing milk bottles extend the shelf of life of milk up to 15 days (source)
We have already seen milk bottles get a nanotechnology upgrade with the titanium dioxide filled Lightproof bottles used to extend the life of UV sensitive vitamin B2 in the milk. Now Brazil is solving the problems of the low shelf life of fresh milk through nanotechnology of a different kind – Nanosilver. Fresh milk has a relatively short shelf life of only a few days which can cause issues in rural areas where the transport times from dairy to customer are long. For this reason, most of the milk sold in Brazil is UHT milk also known as long life milk which is sterilised using temperatures around 150˚C to kill most of the bacterial spores. Anyone who has tried UHT milk will know its unique taste and I personally find it quite unpalatable!
Schematic showing how silver nanoparticles could cause cell death (Image source)
A Brazilian company called Nanox has found a solution by combining the antimicrobial and bactericidal properties of nanosilver and mixing them with polyethylene to make antibacterial plastic milk bottles!Although the exact mechanism for how nanosilver kills bacteria is still not fully understood, it is thought that the nanoparticles anchor to the bacterial cell wall causing structural changes to the cell membrane and also that silver ions interact with thiol groups inactivating vital bacteria enzymes.
Schematic of silica core with nanoparticles attached around the surface to prevent them migrating into the milk.
To remove the fear of the silver nanoparticles leaving the bottle and entering the milk, core miscospheres of silica ceramic were used as a central material base which are much larger than the nanoparticles and less likely to move out of the plastic. The silver nanoparticles were then attached to the silica to create a larger cluster of nanoparticles with a strong central core, and these were then added to the polyethylene pellets before they were heated up and blow molded into bottle shapes. Nanox have also been able to transfer the technology to flexible milk bags which a packaging type that some dairies use in southern regions of Brazil. These bags have shown an extended shelf life from four to ten days and now have FDA and EPA approval for overseas use.
How’s that for a conversation starting headline?
Those who know my passion for diversity would expect a headline like that from me, but it actually stems from a report released this week by First round capital, a venture capital firm which provides seed funding to startups.
After analysing 10 years of data covering 300 companies and 600 founders they discovered that startup teams with at least one female founder performed 63% better than all male teams.
Companies with a female founder performed 63% better than investments with all male founding teams (source)
This comes after a Quantopian study earlier this year shows that 80 women CEO’s in Fortune 1000 companies produced equity returns 226% better than the S&P 500.
Of course I’m excited about this, and the data implies what women have been saying for a while, diversity in senior leadership positions is good for business. However, it’s not all rosy out there, as globally in 2015 we still only have 18% female founders showing that there is still so much more to be done.
One concern I have is seeing the changing characteristics of our leading females, who say they’ve had to adopt male behaviours (being aggressive, sounding smart, and dictating) to advance their career.
Rock Health 2015 report on state of women in healthcare (source)
So where should the world look to for positive female founder stories? Apparently it’s Wellington, New Zealand an ecosystem which has been described as light-years ahead in terms of it’s diversity and celebration of its female founders and employees. What I love about the Wellington trend, is those incredible women named in the article have managed to keep their true to self feminine characteristics throughout their success showing that leadership comes in all shapes and styles.
Let’s hope the trend continues and this time next year we will hear more success stories as women gain both confidence and access to mentors in the startup world.