EIT Health announces fund for innovators addressing women’s health

19 Dec 2019

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EIT Health has launched its 2020 Wild Card programme, with €4m investment for innovations addressing women’s health and digital therapeutics.

EIT Health has announced that applications are now open for its 2020 Wild Card programme, with a €4m fund investing in the areas of women’s health and digital therapeutics.

Each year, the Wild Card programme selects two challenges that represent a pressing health issue for European citizens. For 2020, the first challenge is set to Europe’s health innovation community is women’s health.

Innovators are urged to devise cost-effective, technology-driven solutions to provide specialised care for women.

‘Women’s health is rich territory for innovators’

Commenting on the women’s health challenge, Jorge Fernández García, EIT Health director of innovation, said: “Addressing women’s healthcare is vital.

“A historical female under-representation in research has led to women’s health issues being overlooked or underserved. In Europe, it’s estimated that women spend almost 12 years of their life in ill health, they are more likely to develop adverse reactions to medication.”

“Cardiovascular disease, traditionally considered as a threat to men, is the greatest mortality risk for women in Europe alongside cancer. Women’s health is rich territory for Europe’s health innovators, we look forward to supporting breakthroughs that can make a real impact here.”

‘An area that holds great promise’

The second challenge in the Wild Card 2020 programme will look for start-ups ready to innovate in the realm of digital therapeutics. Fernández García added: “We’re looking for innovators who can create digital therapeutic solutions that enhance the delivery and quality of care.

“Although it’s a relatively new field, it’s an area that holds great promise to deliver breakthroughs in therapy areas where medicine has so far struggled, as well as tackling the challenge of shifting healthcare towards a more preventative rather than reactive approach.”

“We’re looking for innovation that can show a distinct and measurable benefit for patients and healthcare systems.”

A hackathon and business validation

EIT Health will invest up to €2m in two start-ups that offer the most effective and disruptive solutions in either of these categories.

The most promising applicants will attend a hackathon to build or complement their team and write their business plan. Up to six teams will then be selected to progress to a 10-week business model validation phase.

Since the launch of Wild Card in 2018, EIT Health has invested €8m in four ventures that put forward game-changing proposals to tackle some of Europe’s most significant health challenges, including antimicrobial resistance, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Applications are open here until 9 February 2020.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic