The SENDER project is pleased to dedicate this article to our female researchers to promote their work and careers around the development of energy service applications for demand response, home automation and convenience, designed jointly with consumers/prosumers and energy players, enabling a transition from fossil fuels to more renewable energy through flexibility.

As part of SENDER, we interviewed Ms Elena Calzado Roldán, Senior International Project Manager at the EU Office of Smart Innovation Norway and EU Advisor for the Norwegian clusters: NCE Smart Energy Markets and Cluster for Applied AI.

Elena has a BS in Chemistry from Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She has worked for more than 20 years as an R&D consultant, thus involved in national and international R&D projects in different sectors (including energy, transport, agri-food, and environment) as Project Manager and Innovation and Exploitation Responsible, for supporting international organisations, research centres, enterprises and industrial partners in the optimisation of their innovation potential, the identification of opportunities of financing and proposal preparation. She has also worked as a trainer, as a coach for entrepreneurs, and as an external evaluator for the European Commission and the Eureka Network.

Career and challenges

Q.: Ms Elena Calzado, can you tell us about your journey to becoming a researcher (highlighting pivotal moments), the challenges you encountered along the way and the most important lesson you learned?

Since childhood, I dreamed of being a scientist. I studied chemistry, specializing in the environment, determined to make the world more sustainable. My career began supporting entities in securing research funding. I discovered my love for working with Europe’s best innovators, committed to making a positive impact. I learned that an expert facilitator is crucial to EU projects’ success, promoting cooperation and reinforcing synergies between partners.

Role in the project

Q.: What do you do within the SENDER project? How have your studies and expertise enabled you to fulfil this role?

As the IPR Manager for the consortium, I understand the importance of intellectual property in the successful implementation of collaborative research projects and in maximizing the impact of their results. With over 20 years of experience as an R&D consultant and exploitation manager for both private and public institutions, as well as for-profit and non-profit organizations, I am well-equipped to advise partners on the best ways to protect and exploit their results.


Q.: At European level, do you think the research sector has become more open to women? What could be done to achieve greater equality between men and women in this field?

Efforts to promote gender equality in the European research sector include requiring gender equality plans for certain Horizon Europe participants. However, more work is needed. Measures should cover education, promoting inclusiveness and equality from childhood, visibility, recognizing past and present women scientists, and influence, increasing female leadership and decision-making participation.

Q.: As an expert in energy field, what do you see as Europe’s biggest challenge in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables?

Europe aims for a green, autonomous, secure, fair, and reliable energy system. To achieve this, Europe must reduce its dependence on oil and gas, promote renewables and storage, and improve the regulatory framework to incentivize citizen and stakeholder participation in global energy markets. This will not only make the energy system sustainable but also help achieve climate goals, create a new clean energy economy, and generate jobs.

Q.: Finally, what advice would you give to future generations of women who want to become researchers?

“Being a researcher is challenging, but it’s important to follow your passion and never give up on your dreams. Women researchers may face additional obstacles, you must demonstrate more and you will be judged stronger if you fail, but always believe in yourself and your abilities. Diversity in research is essential for producing results that benefit the whole society, so always bring your unique perspective and experiences to the table.”