Impatient for change, Rainbow Lo joined Paris-based sustainable ‘deep tech’ agency Hello Tomorrow

Rainbow Lo

Source: © Joshi Batten

Rainbow Lo uses her chemistry and materials expertise to assess the key technologies for transitioning to a more sustainable future

One of the most influential events in Rainbow Lo’s professional development occurred when she was 17. During her A-levels, she won a national science competition to join a group of astrobiologists and amateur rocket scientists on an expedition. The group headed to the Black Rocks desert in Nevada, US, to launch a device that would capture and detect extremophiles if present in the upper atmosphere. ‘I remember learning that science is not one straight line from A to B, it involves a lot of pivoting when things don’t go as planned. That set me up quite well for going into university and then beyond that, really for life,’ she says.

Now, after her interdisciplinary doctoral studies that encompassed chemical synthesis, cancer imaging and green energy production, Lo is a chemistry and materials expert for Paris-based ‘deep-tech’ evangelists and innovation consultancy, Hello Tomorrow, which specialises in accelerating startups investing in R&D intensive technologies that aim to solve substantial societal challenges.

Change the world

Lo grew up in London and remained there for her studies, finishing with a PhD in cancer biology and imaging sciences jointly supervised out of King’s College London and Imperial College London. But she already had itchy feet and took a secondment in Hong Kong, and then another with the Universities Space Research Organisation in California, US. There she worked on sustainable energy solutions for space with Lynn Rothschild from Nasa Ames, one of the astrobiologists she met when searching for microbes at 17.

While her stay in the US was curtailed by Covid-19, in 2021 Lo took up a postdoctoral research position at the Institut Curie research centre in Paris, France. During this time she started to think about her future, asking herself: ‘What do I want to do with my career? How can I have a big impact? What are the things that I can do to change the world for the better?’

The slow and uncertain pace of academic research did not satisfy Lo’s ambition to work for change, particularly in the area of sustainability and creating a more circular, less wasteful economy. ‘There are so many new technologies that are coming out, and it’s important for us as a society to find a way to develop and scale these new solutions,’ says Lo. When she read the description of her current job with Hello Tomorrow, she says she instantly knew ‘this is me’. Luckily the company agreed.

Hello Tomorrow is best-known for its Global Challenge competition, which provides a no strings attached €100,000 (£85,500) Grand Prize for early-stage deep tech startups, as well as smaller prizes and opportunities for coaching and other forms of support. Part of Lo’s role is to analyse the trends from the submissions to provide insights into the state of deep tech.

Lo also provides technical expertise in chemistry and materials to support Hello Tomorrow’s consultancy team, which works with clients across the chemical, polymer, construction and biotech industries. For instance, a client in the chemical manufacturing space could request help in becoming more sustainable and want to know the key technologies and partners they need to work with to make this a reality. ‘It’s honestly really impressive to see the technologies that are out there, and how much good you can do by connecting and facilitating these introductions,’ says Lo.

Lo’s role also involves a great deal of horizon scanning. ‘I can clearly see that green chemistry is increasing massively,’ she says, ‘you can see that from the money that people are investing [and] by the number of companies that apply to the early stage, deep tech competition.’

Curiouser and curiouser

Another big part of her role is communicating these trends and spreading the message through the webinars her company produces, such as a recent one she co-hosted on how AI might transform the chemical and manufacturing industries. ‘For me, that was one of the best examples of why I love my role so much – being able to work actively in this environment, and adding value and seeing that value have a tangible impact is the key thing that I’ve been aiming for.’

Lo says her ‘guiding light’ so far in her career has been to follow her curiosity and worked towards goals that stem from this. ‘I think having a passion, and seeing what clearly speaks to you is one of the most fundamental things … find out what motivates you [and] from there, you will be able to find fantastic experiences that will lead you to the destination.’

Her immediate goal is to improve her French, but longer term Lo wants to continue to dedicate her career to creating a more sustainable world. Moving into the future she says she ‘has no idea what role that would be, but I know whatever roles I’m going to move into, I’ll be able to apply my expertise and knowledge, add value to the institution, and have a huge impact’.

Rainbow Lo’s career path


2022–present: Expertise manager and deep tech lead, Hello Tomorrow, France

2021–2022: Senior scientist, Institut Curie, France

2020–2021: Scientist, USRA (Universities Space Research Organisation), based at the NASA Ames Research Centre, US and remote

2018–2019: Scientist (secondment), The University of Hong Kong


2016–2021: PhD in cancer biology and imaging sciences, jointly between Imperial College London and King’s College London, UK 

2015–2016: MRes Medical Imaging, King’s College London, UK

2011–2015: MSci Natural Sciences, Chemistry and Biomedical Sciences, University College London, UK