Dr Sarah Bourke a winner at 2016 EU Prize for Women Innovators

11 Mar 2016

Dr Sarah Bourke (right) being presented her award at the 2016 EU Prize for Women Innovators ceremony. Image via Skytek/Twitter

For her efforts as one of the leading women entrepreneurs in Europe, Skytek’s co-founder Dr Sarah Bourke has been named as one of the three winners of the 2016 EU Prize for Women Innovators.

News of Skytek co-founder and CEO, Dr Sarah Bourke, being named among the finalists for the coveted prize was announced back in December last year, where she was joined by eight other leading women within the EU.

Now, the judging panel has announced, Bourke has won third place, having been originally whittled down from a list of 64 women, and now, aside from being the only Irish women to make this year’s list of finalists, she is now the first Irish woman to win the award, which includes a prize of €30,000.

Discussing Bourke’s inclusion in the final three winners, the panel had much praise for her innovation, leadership and commercial progress in pioneering technology that is used by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Bourke was instrumental in developing the software for the International Procedural Viewer, which made it aboard the ISS back in 2005 and has been a crucial cog in the machine that is the most-advanced laboratory outside of this world.

‘Europe needs to support more innovators like them’

Speaking at the event about her success, Bourke spoke of the award’s importance for women in general as a sign that they too can compete and achieve at the highest levels in sci-tech sectors.

“It is generally accepted that space is very much a male-dominated area in which to work,” she said. “These awards demonstrate that women are breaking through into the sector and are making significant contributions”.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation at the EU, said of the three finalists’ achievement: “Europe needs to support more innovators like them: the people who combine scientific excellence with a head for business; the people who turn their research into employment opportunities and their ideas into positive impacts for our society and our economy.”

The award of first prize went to Dr Susana Sargento, co-founder of Veniam in Portugal, which turns vehicles into Wi-Fi hotspots and builds city-scale vehicular networks that collect terabytes of urban data.

Meanwhile, second place went to Prof Sirpa Jalkanen, co-founder of BioTie Therapies in Finland, who discovered unique targets for drug development for harmful inflammations and cancer treatment.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic