Almost exactly a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly cut into public and private life in Europe. The sudden threat demanded a decisive response from the European institutions in order to minimize damage to human life and the economy and to prevent the pandemic from progressing uncontrollably. EIT Health, as part of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT), has also joined the coordinated response of the European Commission. We would like to give you a brief overview of the funding programs that were implemented last year as part of the EIT Crisis Response Initiative and introduce you to the companies and projects from the D.A.CH. region that have benefited from the additional funding. We have also given you a portrait of all initiatives and companies in our information brochure COVID-19 – Zusammen sind wir stark (Available only in german).
Development of medical devices, research into potential vaccines and drugs, tracking systems, remote monitoring, patient support, donation of emergency supplies: since the outbreak of the pandemic, thousands of companies have been working in parallel on countless projects in the fight against the virus. In order to keep all partners in our network informed about these processes, EIT Health published new developments and innovative solutions from our network on a common platform. This also enabled a better exchange between countries and disciplines.
The platform is open to all interested parties at:
In order to bundle the combined strength of the networks of what are now eight Knowledge and Innovation Communities and to find approaches to counter the COVID-19 crisis, the EIT made additional funding available. The aim was to provide additional support for the most promising projects in the fight against COVID-19. A total of 156 project applications responded to EIT Health’s Rapid Response Call. Experts from the EIT Health Network as well as recognized pandemic experts from around the world assessed the applications received and ultimately selected 14 projects from the areas of optimizing population screening, diagnosis, containing the spread of the disease and preventing a new outbreak for funding. We have presented the three German winners of the call in this article.
As part of the EIT Crisis Response Initiative, the Start-up Rescue Instrument (“First Aid for Start-ups”) was created to respond to the drastic economic drop and to mitigate its consequences. The start-up rescue instrument should provide quick help so that important innovations do not fail due to a lack of funds in the crisis. Start-ups selected for the program received an extra co-investment amount as well as access to a strong network of partners. They also were introduced to other opportunities within the EIT Health Portfolio programs.
Of the eleven start-ups selected across Europe for funding by the Start-up Rescue Instrument, four are based within the D.A.CH. region. We have presented the winners to you here. In December, we reconnected with the start-ups in an interview to find out how their companies faced the crisis and how the funding supported them.
To meet the need for targeted approaches to combat the pandemic, EIT Health has expanded its Headstart program in 2020. 21 start-ups from across Europe, whose products and services will help the Union contain, treat and cope with the virus, have been selected . EIT Health Germany’s online Headstart competition for COVID-19 solutions took place in May 2020. A jury of experts selected four from the numerous projects presented. They received Headstart funding of € 50,000 as well as access to mentoring and other supporting measures in order to complete the development in the following six months.
One year later, we talked to the winners again to find out what their companies have achieved since the Headstart Award.
Outside of the programs of the EIT Crisis Response Initiative, our start-ups have also been involved in the fight against COVID-19 and achieved great things with the help of the EIT Health network: