As innovation is the backbone of our organisation, we are committed to supporting innovation in all forms, at all ages. This time it was the European Young Innovators Festival, a pan-European community of young innovators who use digital technology to achieve the UN SDGs. From 30 November to 2 December 2020, over 300 participants enjoyed the festival program. The agenda explored the topics of climate Change, the global pandemic, the glass ceiling for women, equal access to education or health services over a series of inspiring panels, workshops, business blind-dates and exciting keynotes, bringing together the global and multi-stakeholder network of WSA. The Festival concluded with the pitches of the European Young Innovators in front of an international jury, after going through intense knowledge and mentoring sessions.
EIT Health Germany was invited to join an international panel to discuss how digital entrepreneurs can help to tackle the global pandemic. Our Accelerator project assistant Mathis Palm took part in the “Hack the Crisis” panel where startups and startup support agencies exchanged views of how they found innovative ways to deal with the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis and discussed the potential benefits of these experiences for their future.
The panel was led and moderated by Dorothy Gordon, WSA board member and UNESCO IFAP chair from Ghana and EIT Health Germany was joined by Amr Sobhy, Serial Entrepreneur from Egypt, Laura Egge, CEO Austrian Angels Investors Association, George Ulmann, COO of UK healthtech startup MedShr, and Saba Khalid, CEO of digital health startup Raaji from Pakistan.
The panel was stacked with champions of innovation and entrepreneurship from beyond Europe. This international perspective offered some very insightful and personal information on how the pandemic has affected people around the globe differently. Common to all participants in the panel was their creativity and resolve in overcoming the burdens that they were suddenly faced with, in the spring of 2020. Those challenges ranged from being forced to lockdown immediately to having no access to clinical practitioners for product development to losing one’s entire target custom base due to the closure of schools. What united all panelists was how they reflected on the challenging circumstances and their use of necessary workarounds to their usual pre-pandemic-practices as a means to expand their personal and professional horizons. The panel closed with an outlook of how the pandemic has increased the need for gender equality in the European and global startup ecosystem, both in terms of enabling female founders and in making sure they have access to sufficient investment.
The next day EIT Health Managing Director Dr. Katharina Ladewig was a participating jury member in the final pitches by the European Young Innovators. More than 20 innovators from all sides of the world presented the ideas, ranging from AR for tourism, educational platforms, to smart tech for agriculture. Two ideas, Fit für Immer and AirCare really impressed the jury and the next day the chairman of the WSA and musical contributions from the Austrian Beatbox Academy Seboom, announced them as winners with red and blue virtual glitter.
In the category Young Innovators under 26 yrs of age, the winner was Fit für Immer, a German startup that offers digital afternoon care in retirement homes in the form of customized videos. The offer ranges from sports and music to relaxation units and is intended to complement care in old people’s homes, especially in times of care emergencies.
In the category European Young Innovator under 30 yrs of age, the winner was AirCareTheApp, which summarizes government air pollution data and satellite measurements, providing understandable information and precautionary measures in 49 countries.
Congratulations to the winners!