Have you met...Ana Neves?

Ana Neves’ life is a mix between the rigorousness of patent’s law and the curiosity of science.

Ana Neves holds a chemical engineering degree. Before graduating, her goal was to work on the production/industry but she ended up in the world of patents. Working in Portugal and in the UK, the growing passion for patents and science pushed her to be a Portuguese patent attorney. Currently, she works at Tecnophage, a Portuguese startup.

Ana Neves during our interview in Lisbon.

You worked in very different places but probably there are a set of skills that you considered vital for a good performance. Which are they?
 Hard skills you will always be able to learn if your mind is open enough to receive new information. On the other hand, soft skills are a little more problematic if you don’t have them. For instance, you cannot teach empathy, nor curiosity and willingness to learn to someone. If people want to learn and to work in a team, anything can be done!

When and how did this passion for patents happen?
 Well, it fell on my lap! It was nothing I dreamt of doing while studying because truth to be told it was not something I knew much about. I applied for a position in the patent department of a pharmaceutical company after graduating and the passion grew time after time, job after job.

If you weren’t working as a Portuguese patent attorney, what would you be doing instead?
Chemistry was always my passion! I think if I wasn’t in the world of patents, I would like to work on research, “test tubes” and all that! [laughs].

Being a patent attorney in a biotech startup, you deal daily with science. In your opinion, what will be the major breakthrough in this field in the next 20 years?
It’s a really hard question! I am really linked to Tecnophage (where I work) and the idea of an alternative to antibiotics based on phages really fascinates me. Especially considering the days we are living in, where a lot of bacteria that causes serious infections are now multiresistant.

Did you ever consider complementing your education with a law degree?
Yes, of course! But not for the reasons you might think. The truth is I love to study. I love to learn new stuff. Taking a law degree would, without a doubt, teach me how to enter in the way of thinking of someone who writes a legislative document. It is a complete shift from the way of thinking of an industrial chemical engineer by education, like me. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the time for such a commitment.
On the other hand, I am at the moment studying to be a European patent attorney and the process is teaching me how to analyze the European legislation. If you think about it, the goal is to learn about patents and a law degree would, in theory, prepare me for much more than that, which frankly would not be that relevant for my line of work.

When you have a bad day at work, what is your way to deal with stressful situations?
I try not to contaminate the people around me with my problems or bad mood. In those days, I need to go home earlier to make a problem assessment. I need to be in a safe place (my home) in silence thinking and analyzing what went wrong so I can overcome it.

Are you surprised as much as we were?! During this interview, it was difficult to hide our excitement! It's important for a patent attorney to have a scientific background when dealing with technological inventions. What do you think about this? Contact us for more info. See you soon!