I want to share with you my journey as a women entrepreneur, explaining the challenges that I faced while driving the implementation of AI in healthcare.
I was born and grew up in Morocco. At the age of 17, I moved to the Netherlands to study Electrical Engineering and Informational Technology at Delft University of Technology.
My journey in artificial intelligence started 13 years ago, when I embarked on a PhD project. I was assigned to build a cockpit for surgeons in the operating room, using AI to predict surgical workflow and detect anomalies in real time.
Back then, the only surgeon I could find that was not intimidated by an AI cockpit monitoring his operating room was in Germany, Prof. Feussner. All the other surgeons I spoke to in the Netherlands, the US and Nordics, felt that their work could not be automatically interpreted definitely not by machines and perhaps nor by women, that what they did was “art” and no machine could help to make it better.
But that didn’t stop me from my goal of saving and improving human lives with artificial intelligence.
I believe AI holds huge potential across healthcare. We are facing unprecedented challenges from a population growing to 10 billion by 2050. The impact of AI to sustain a healthy population of 10 billion is enormous. As an entrepreneur I’ve always looked at how this impact can be maximised with technology.
With this goal in mind, I founded OKRA Technologies in 2015.
As CEO, I have tried to build OKRA’s reputation to become a leading AI company for life sciences, supporting the industry in bringing the right drug to the right patient at speed. OKRA now works with top Pharmaceutical clients across Europe, using AI to empower decision making and bridge the communication between stakeholders in the ecosystem.
Diversity at the heart of technology
Only 25% of European businesses are using AI at the moment, and I am trying to raise that percentage significantly, specifically in pharma.
In starting my business, I’ve experienced some negative bias for being an academic and scientist rather than a seasoned entrepreneur, and for being a woman in the male-dominated technology and corporate environment, but that has never stopped me from reaching to my ambition. I feel different in many ways to many people, and that is ok.