Since last April, Lorena García is leading ADBioplastics, a Valencian startup with great projection and a unique product: its PLA-Premium bioplastic. We spoke with the new Managing Director to find out how she is facing this new stage, what new sectors are being addressed in addition to packaging, and what future plans this young company has. During the pandemic, ADBioplastics has donated 200 kg to a solidarity initiative carried out by CovidMakers Getafe, which aimed to manufacture and distribute protective screens to protect healthcare personnel against Covid-19. The main goal of ADBioplastics is clear: “to become a company of reference offering the highest quality in bioplastics on the market”, as indicated by the new person in charge.
You are the new Managing Director of ADBioplastics. What has been your professional career and what experience can you bring to this company?
Since April, I have been in charge of ADBioplastics as a Managing Director. Previously, I held CMO role in the Marketing and Communication department. I have a degree in Journalism and a Master in Marketing and Sales Management (GESCO), as well as in International Business Management (MDCI), in ESIC Business with a double honorable mention for best academic record and best project of the 2017-2018 promotion. These studies have helped me consolidate my knowledge in the areas of logistics and finance, which together with my experience in marketing, communication, and sales, allow me to have a holistic vision of the company. In addition, I have a clear international vocation after having worked for 5 years in Germany, with clients from different countries.
What I can contribute is business vision and strategy. A ‘know-how’ based on more than 15 years of experience in marketing and sales departments in different countries, as well as the most important thing: passion for the job I do here at ADBioplastics. My fundamental pillar is in the R&D department, led by 2 PhDs in chemistry and materials: José Ángel Ramos, CTO, and Iván Navarro, Project Manager.
Leading a fast-growing startup like ADBioplastics, and with a product with great potential, is a professional challenge. What has it meant for you to assume the position of Managing Director of ADBioplastics? What are your feelings?
I have always liked to get out of my comfort zone and accept new challenges. And this is, without a doubt, the greatest of them. In startups, the dynamics are not comparable to traditional companies. Here, the decision process is much more agile and you have to be very prepared for changes and more in a sector, such as bioplastics, that is emerging right now and where everything is to be defined yet. The key is to have a well-defined and shared strategy with the entire team that makes up ADBioplastics. If we know where we are going, success is assured.
How will your direction influence the trajectory of ADBioplastics, will there be a line of continuity or will changes occur?
Positive changes are coming for us. Now, we are not only targeting the packaging sector but we have set our sights on two more sectors: construction, specifically in profiling, and very especially, in the 3D printing sector for the manufacture of filaments. In the latter, everything arose from a donation we made of 200 kg of our PLA-Premium product to manufacture protective screens. The goal was to protect Madrid health personnel against the coronavirus, a charitable initiative promoted by CovidMakers Getafe. From there, we began to receive requests from potential customers who wanted to test our material. This has very clear competitive advantages over the base PLA such as high printing speed, impact resistance, and printability.
What position does ADBioplastics occupy in the market and what are the objectives to be achieved in the next four or five years?
We start from the premise that we are a “custom-made” bioplastics producer to meet the requirements of our customers. Furthermore, our vision is clear: to become a benchmark company offering the highest quality bioplastics on the market, thanks to our PLA-Premium. Our ‘market drivers’ are ecological, biobased, biodegradable, sustainable, and compostable products and we go to sectors with high added value products. In 5 years we want to have more than 60% of the international market share, expand our product portfolio with new additives, and go to more sectors, such as biomedical.
The biopolymers market grows more and more, how does this influence your presence in the market compared to your competitors? What strategies does ADBioplastics apply to position itself in the market?
It is a booming sector and competition is growing. But our product is indeed something unique. We have patented the technology and our grades, we have a powerful R&D department that I firmly believe in, as well as many years of ‘know-how’ compared to competitors since we come of Itene Technology Center. I also think that who hits first, hits twice. And if to that, you add that we do not have a catalog and that we make a customized product, we differentiate ourselves from the competition, without a doubt.
You have patented PLA-Premium, what is it, what technical properties, and what advantages does it offer compared to conventional plastics?
We go where the PLA does not go. And hence it is called PLA-Premium because it is the improved part of this bioplastic. Basically, what we do is additive to the PLA and improve its characteristics, increasing the oxygen and water vapor barrier properties, the mechanical properties (less rigid and more elastic), processability, etc. In addition, the applications where they can be used are in extrusion-thermoforming, injection, and injection blowing.
Do you consider that the use of bioplastics is the solution to the environmental problem of plastic waste?
Bioplastics contribute to reducing the carbon footprint and promoting the circular economy. And yes, they are part of the solution to the environmental problem along with the proper use of waste. More than anything because bioplastics cannot replace all the current demand for traditional plastic. So they both have to live in harmony. In my opinion, the most important thing is to educate the consumer so that they understand how every single action impacts on the planet. This awareness begins in childhood in schools. Education is the key.
ADBioplastics is a Spanish company. How do you see this market, what is its current situation, and what do you think its evolution will be?
We are a Spanish company, located in Valencia, with a great passion for what we do and endorsed by a great product. Like any startup, growing and maintaining itself is not an easy task. Furthermore, the economic situation of the coronavirus has not helped. I believe that, in these times, far from reducing it is necessary to bet more than ever on the marketing and R&D departments. Regarding the bioplastics sector, the seed of environmental awareness is already part of our DNA and this sector is, without a doubt, the future, since it represents a sustainable solution for the planet. So the demand for bioplastics is going to increase progressively in the coming years.
Do you work in foreign markets? Will it seek new horizons beyond the continent?
We have sent some samples to countries in America and Asia but our market is still national. In addition, the main goal is to position ourselves in the new market niches, in construction and 3D printing. If our forecasts are met, we will make the international leap in the second quarter of 2021.
Recently ADBioplastics has donated 200 kilos of PLA-Premium to manufacture protective screens against the coronavirus … what has the experience been like?
We are a small startup but with a great sense of duty. So, as you can imagine, we have been especially excited to contribute our grain of sand and help healthcare personnel in Madrid, one of the cities most affected by the coronavirus worldwide.
In conclusion, what goal has ADBioplastics set itself as a company in the short, medium, and long term?
In the short term, begin to have an industrial scale volume with our products in the construction and packaging sector. In the medium term, landing fully in the 3D printing sector as a prestigious brand. All this is included in our strategic plan and agreed with all the departments involved. Internal communication in a company is the key to success.
This interview has been conducted entirely by Nerea Gorriti, Chief Editor of the Industrial Area at Interempresas