As a nerdy, nature-loving kid growing up in France, Barbara Belvisi daydreamed about life on other planets: giant domes filled with lush plants and exotic flowers like the ones she’d painted on her bedroom walls. But adult life beckoned: She studied finance and business and built a career investing in “deep tech”—VC speak for companies whose progress relies on innovations in science or engineering.

In 2014, she cofounded Hardware Club, an investment firm dedicated to physical, connected products and robotics. Now, she’s realizing her childhood fantasies as the founder and CEO of Interstellar Lab—which has set itself the ambitious goal of building inflatable pods that can support life on other planets. “I had to learn a lot about aerospace, life support, agriculture, and architecture to start this one,” she says.

Belvisi says the company, which she founded in 2018, aims to “create the perfect climatic and atmospheric conditions for life”—whether that’s on Earth, in orbit, or on the surface of other worlds. The purpose isn’t just to support that billionaire-beloved goal of becoming a “multi-planetary” species—it’s also to improve things here on Earth. Belvisi says the technology her company is developing could tackle issues like food scarcity and habitat loss.

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