EIT Health Germany Blog

Jeff Wilkesmann, what is a Collaboration Lead?

EIT Health’s nomenclature: sometimes difficult to understand, but always meaningful. Today we want to explore a term most partners already came across, the “Collaboration Lead”. An organisational role, and a key role in our new Flagship Call.

The Collaboration Lead position aims to help partners to navigate and utilize the opportunities our various programs have to offer. It is the “front face to the customer”, and the first contact point for partners regarding the Flagship Call as well as other collaboration opportunities. We are pleased to introduce you to Jeff Wilkesmann, our designated Collaboration Lead since February 2022, who is already known by many partners, as he was previously our Education Lead at EIT Health Germany-Switzerland.


The first Flagship call is now open. With the purpose of improving the way we interact with partners in the pre-portfolio or pre-funding phase, a new position was created. Could you tell us about your role as Collaboration Lead and elaborate on what your tasks include?

As a Collaboration Lead, I focus on engaging with existing partners and building sustainable relationships with key stakeholders to ensure partner needs are met. Chiefly, I lead and support the scouting and the development of partners’ innovation ideas and proposals for our Business Plan calls. Moreover, I also support our CLC management in Customer Relationship Management à la EIT Health. Taking care of how we can build long-term relationships with our partner network, regional innovation communities, European hubs and other healthcare-related innovation organisations across Europe is also an important goal. Internally, we Collaboration Leads represent our regional Partner ecosystems within the organization and advocate for them, and as a group of Collaboration Leads, we try to ensure that our regional Partner ecosystems’ needs and feedback are being structured and heard.

Among the several daily tasks, I can mention the promotion of the involvement of the different relevant stakeholders in the local ecosystem for suitable business plan opportunities. If a gap in the consortium is identified, then I supplement it with proper suggestions within the EIT Health membership and beyond.

In many cases, the Collaboration Lead does not work alone. Teamwork with other CLC members is required, e.g. the Entrepreneurship Lead, the Pillar Leads (Education, Innovation and Business Creation), but also the CLC MD and the Stakeholder Relations Lead Head are pivotal for driving proper partner recruitment campaigns and dissemination efforts, in order to reach and engage a broader, adequately multidisciplinary target group.

Currently, we are also developing new initiatives within the network and with relevant stakeholders. Maintaining and evolving a valuable EIT Health portfolio for the Partnership and the broader community is an important goal, for which we leverage regional and international EIT Health resources.

As Collaboration Lead, you are the contact person responsible for the Flagship Call. Could you tell us more about what the call entails, what activities are called for and which partners should apply?

EIT Health’s new “Flagship” initiative has been developed through increased Partner dialogue and with a strategic focus on EU health priorities. It’s a shift towards co-development with partners, it’s feedback-driven and lives from an ongoing engagement with Partners. Each of the four Flagships offers several benefits for Partner involvement, specific to the type of organisation applying. For this call, three Flagships are highlighted, namely, 1) New models to deliver healthcare; 2) Facilitating the uptake of Digital Medical Devices & Diagnostics and 3) Harnessing the full potential of health data for innovation.

Among the main differences that the applicants will find is that there is a more elaborate cross-pillar approach, and the overall process is timely and more flexible (with three defined deadlines). Moreover, EIT Health sustainability has been further developed by introducing risk-sharing models for all activities. This call opens the participation to a broader public, thus giving the opportunity to EIT Health members to bring benefits to their own network and ecosystem. For further details about the call, you can find the document under this link.

As usual, applicants must remain alert to our new deadlines (the “cut-off dates”): 02 Nov 2022, 01 Mar 2023, and 01 Jun 2023. Be also aware that not all programmes are open for all cut-off dates. I kindly invite all our partners and their networks to actively participate in this call.


Jeff, you have been working for a while now at EIT Health Germany. How is it working with the EIT Health network and what are you excited to tackle in your new position?

It has been a unique and interesting experience developing myself professionally into a Collaboration Lead. These are very challenging times, passing through a pandemic experience, going through war times, and as consequence severe economic and social challenges. However, the health framework must remain the main topic in our lives. It has been a delight sharing with partners about their projects in innovation and education topics, understanding them, and it has been an honour being able to guide them through the EIT Health world, helping them with their application, and getting them acquainted with our system and our community. It is very nice when you see new fruitful links being developed amongst partners that did not know each other before. It is really satisfying to see your partners succeed and thrive in the Partnership. Regarding our current Call, the Flagships, there has been a certain passiveness of partners for now, so for sure my first step is to encourage them to get involved with our calls, make them understand the big picture as well as the technicalities, motivate them to actively participate in the programmes, where they – or sometimes we – think they have a fitting proposal. They can be assured that they will find the right support within our team to excel in their projects with EIT Health and also with other EU-funding schemes!