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2020 year in review and look ahead to 2021

As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to reflect on the successes of the past year while also looking forward to opportunities in the New Year.

2020 has been a challenging time for all of us and yet it has also shown us that innovation can be at the heart of the solution to the current crisis. We are extremely proud of our Rapid Response Projects which have been fighting COVID-19 at the front line of the crisis: from the development of a protective mask based on an alternative high-performance fabric to identifying protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in health care personnel the teams have done an amazing job. If you are interested to find out how the protective mask turned out, check out www.upperhand.co (and order one for yourself!). But also our other innovation projects are turning promising research into impactful products and services, and we are here to support the process all the way. Evidence of our joint success is the Horizon Impact Award 2020, which was awarded to the “Mobile Autonomy for Children in end-stage heart failure” project. During the year we also continued to support our partners with proposal writing and hearings training sessions. In the course of 2020, we organised 68 proposal writing sessions and coached 43 teams, resulting in over 30 proposals submitted for the BP2021.

Start-ups also played a critical role in developing solutions for the Covid-19 crisis and we made sure that these solutions reach the healthcare community faster, by awarding four Headstart grants to digital health startups pioneering solutions that mitigate the everyday impacts of COVID-19. Throughout the year we also expanded our Accelerator portfolio with more than 40 startups, helped 16 additional start-ups match with new mentors and sent four start-ups to the EIT Health Catapult finals. Our flagship programme, Startups Meet Pharma was a tremendous success, resulting in 3 NDAs signed and 4 pilots to be kicked off in 2021. I am also glad to inform you that we are expanding the programme next year to include healthcare providers, interested to provide enhanced value to their patients. If I have intrigued you enough, feel free to peruse the programme’s website. Following our aim to foster startup innovation and entrepreneurship in the ecosystem, EIT Health Germany has organised and taken part in various events such as EIT Health Investors Lounge, Insuring Digital Health, Health – The Digital Future, Frontiers Health and many more. With a portfolio of over 10 startup programmes and more than 50 supported startups, we have played a big part in providing entrepreneurs access to support, resources and network to succeed and make a better future.

For innovation, education is key. Educating professionals today, drives change tomorrow. And educating the next generation, drives our future. That is why EIT Health Germany Partners partners lead ten projects and contributed to another twelve Education projects this year. Let us share some highlights. During the annual Innovation Days at Aachen University and WILD Group over 50 students were introduced to the concept of entrepreneurship and competed in multidisciplinary teams to tackle real-life health challenges, while during our MedTech Entrepreneurship Lab, led by Medical Valley, over 30 students were introduced to the challenges and complexities of the medical devices sector and provided with the resources to discuss their own ideas with experts from the industry. Emerging digital technologies are transforming healthcare and the demand from healthcare professionals to adapt and engage with these technologies is so high that our training for professionals Transformative Digital Skills for Healthcare by our core partner Fraunhofer Society, fully booked all modules for this year and already has long waiting lists for next year. Last but not least, new technologies empower healthcare professionals like never before. A prime example is the TeleSTAR project, which leads the way when it comes to new technologies for innovative surgical training. Their live transmissions of ENT surgeries, showing the surgeon’s view and accompanied by annotations, help to better explain the surgery via Augmented Reality to the next generation of surgeons. Impressive, right?

As 2021 comes around, EIT Health Germany will focus on delivering societal impact and transforming healthcare systems through high-value innovation projects. Furthermore, we hope to bring in more startup events and programmes to spur on the startup ecosystem and ignite the innovative spark in everyone. Last but not least, help aspiring entrepreneurs and young innovators seize opportunities, learn to be globally competitive, and equip themselves with essential entrepreneurship skills to jumpstart their careers.