Twenty-one of the most talented and inspiring women entrepreneurs in Europe and beyond are in the shortlist for the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2020. The prize celebrates the outstanding achievements of female entrepreneurs running innovative companies and is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation. This year’s finalists are pioneering game-changing innovations across a wide range of industries and help combat global challenges. Their innovations range from the optimisation of cancer treatments to generating clean electricity from ocean and sea waves.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:
“Today, we celebrate the work of outstanding women innovators and encourage the next generation of women and girls to follow in their footsteps. Gender biases and stereotypes continue to steer girls and women away from science and technology-related careers. These women clearly lead by example and show that you can follow your dreams no matter how big they are.”
Thirteen candidates are competing for three prizes of €100,000 each in the main category, while eight others are competing for the Rising Innovator title that recognises excellent female entrepreneurs under the age of 35 and comes with a €50,000 award.
The thirteen finalists in the main category are:
- Anita Finnegan (Ireland), co-founder and CEO of Nova Leah, a company offering cybersecurity risk management solutions for medical device manufacturers.
- Anita Schjøll Brede (Norway/Denmark), co-founder of Iris.ai, an AI-based search engine for reading scientific research.
- Aranzazu Martínez (Spain), co-founder and Managing Director of It Will Be. Her company helps tackle poverty through technological innovation, providing support to vulnerable women and children.
- Belinda Cowling (France), co-founder and CSO of Dynacure, a clinical-stage drug development company developing therapy for rare and orphan muscle diseases.
- Caroline Walerud (Sweden), co-founder and Executive Chairman of Volumental. Her company helps people find and create perfect fitting footwear through 3D scanning and AI.
- Cécile Real (France), co-founder and CTO of Endodiag. Her company develops early diagnosis solutions for endometriosis, a disease affecting 180 million women worldwide.
- Galit Zuckerman Stark (Israel), founder and CEO of Medasense, a company developing sensor-based personalised pain management technology.
- Inna Braverman (Israel), founder and CEO of Eco Wave Power. Her company develops an innovative technology to generate clean electricity from ocean and sea waves.
- Judit Cubedo (Spain), co-founder and CEO of GlyCardial Diagnostics, a company improving the early diagnosis of cardiac ischemic events.
- Madiha Derouazi (Switzerland), founder and CEO of Amal Therapeutics, a company developing therapeutic cancer vaccines.
- Magdalena Król (Poland), co-founder of Cellis, a company developing cell-based immunotherapy for solid tumours.
- Maria Fátima Lucas (Portugal/Spain), co-founder and CEO of Zymvol Biomodeling, a company developing computer-designed industrial enzymes by applying molecular modelling.
- Neus Sabaté (Spain), co-founder and Scientific Adviser at Fuelium, a company developing paper-based eco-friendly batteries for portable diagnostic devices.
The eight finalists in the Rising Innovator category are:
- Ailbhe Keane (Ireland), founder and creative director of Izzy Wheels. Her company creates fashionable wheel covers for wheelchairs.
- Evelina Vågesjö (Sweden), co-founder and CEO of Ilya Pharma. Her company is developing next-generation biological drugs for treating wounds in skin and mucosa.
- Iris Braun (Germany), co-founder of share, a consumer goods brand based on the 1+1 model: for every share product sold, a person in need receives an equivalent product.
- Josefien Groot (Netherlands), co-founder and CEO of Qlayers. Her company is developing microstructures to boost the efficiency of wind turbines.
- Rebecca Saive (Netherlands), co-founder and CTO of ETC Solar. Her company is developing a micro metal 3D printing tool to enable performance enhancement of solar cells.
- Stefanie Flueckiger-Mangual (Switzerland), co-founder and CEO of TOLREMO Therapeutics. The company is developing next-generation resistance-preventing combination therapies for cancer.
- Valentina Menozzi & Alice Michelangeli (Italy), co-founders and respectively CTO and CSO of Prometheus. These two women innovators submitted one joint application for the Prize. Their company is developing a biotech automated wound care system based on the use of patient’s blood.
The winners of the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2020 will be announced at the European Research and Innovation Days taking place on 22-24 September 2020. At the same event, the Commission will award the European Capital of Innovation 2020, the EIC Horizon Prize for Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid, and the Horizon Impact Award 2020.
Though there are more women than men in Europe, only 16% of European start-ups are founded or co-founded by women, and a mere 6% have all-female founding teams. More female leaders and women on boards leads to greater creativity, broader decision-making and better team performance. But, most importantly, more female leaders means more role models for girls and young women, which is critical if we want to achieve gender parity in Europe.
Achieving a Union of Equality that promotes gender equality in all spheres of life, is one of the major priorities of the European Commission. The Commission is working with Member States and countries associated to Horizon 2020 to overcome the barriers to women entrepreneurship and encourage more women to start their own companies.
First launched in 2011, the EU Prize for Women Innovators was created to raise awareness of the need for more female entrepreneurs and create role models for women and girls. The prize is awarded every year to four talented women entrepreneurs from across the EU and Associated Countries, who have founded a successful company and brought innovation to market. Three winners each receive €100,000, with another €50,000 awarded to a Rising Innovator, aged 35 or younger.