InnoStars Awards makes an astonishing comeback

EIT Health InnoStars Awards is back for the fifth time in 2021 with a record number of applications. Innovators from Italy, Romania, Portugal and Hungary were the most eager to enter one of EIT Health’s most competitive Accelerator programmes.

We can all agree that these have been quite challenging times in human history but when we see promising ideas of great health innovators, a glimmer of light starts to shine at the end of the tunnel. It felt exactly like this when the application period for the 2021 InnoStars Awards ended on March 27: the number of applications has never been as high as it was in 2021.

From 175 published applications 162 were eligible: most of them were sent from Italy, Romania, Portugal and Hungary. Quantity is nothing without quality, of course, but it seems that the line-up will be quite strong – just like it had been in the past.

The next step is to select the best ideas. Fifteen start-ups from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe will receive €25000 of smart money as well as mentoring, training and the opportunity to participate in two bootcamps and further twenty runner-ups will receive mentoring vouchers with €4000 value. During the four-months InnoStars Awards programme, the participant teams will learn from experts, get invaluable insights through validation interviews with potential customers, investors and partners. Innovators may also gain crucial investor connections through EIT Health’s world-class network.

After the first phase of the programme, the ten finalists will be selected for the pitch contest, where an international jury of healthcare professionals, representatives of EIT Health and key figures of the industry will make a final call. The ultimate winner will win up to €25000 in additional support for the launch of the winning product or service.

Seeing the number of applicants proves that there are still superb teams with promising products and services every year and there is an increasing potential in the top young health innovators and their solutions from the region. Our role is to provide them the necessary support so they can continue their successful journey to validate their projects and enter the market” – says Tamas Bekasi, RIS Business Creation Manager at EIT Health InnoStars.

The prestigious InnoStars Awards is aimed at micro- and small enterprises, spin-offs, and start-ups that have a prototype or minimum viable product but do not yet have a product or a service in the market. The goal is to validate the need for the applicants’ healthcare innovations, attract investors and convert healthcare ideas into viable enterprises. This competitive programme is for innovators who are based in – EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) – countries with moderately developed innovation capacity.

Last year Ligence, a Lithuanian start-up that works on software innovations to reduce the workload on medical teams, was the winner of the competition. FaceRehab, a Slovakian start-up focusing on innovative face palsy treatment, received the second prize, while PhoenixOrthosis, a Hungarian team that supports stroke survivors to make their lives easier and rehabilitation more effective, won the third prize in the prestigious competition.

It will be more than interesting to see which fields will reach the top in 2021! Stay tuned for the top 15 candidates that will be announced in May.