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EIT Awards winners announced: new wave of innovators changing the face of Europe

EIT Awards winners 2017

Europe’s most ground-breaking entrepreneurs and innovators were honoured last night at the EIT Awards ceremony at one of Europe’s most important innovation forums, INNOVEIT.


Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: 'The winners of this year's EIT Awards are absolutely inspiring. The EIT Community and the EIT Awards show that Europe has a new wave of innovators and entrepreneurs, ready to transform best ideas into products, services and jobs. To have more innovators like these, Europe has to better integrate entrepreneurship and innovation into education – that’s exactly what the EIT Community does.'


EIT CHANGE Award–rewards graduates who spur innovation and bring about societal change

Florence Gschwend (Switzerland), co-founder and Director of Operations of Chrysalix Technologies, for the BioFlex process that enables contaminated waste wood from construction and demolition to be transformed into inexpensive fuels, materials and chemicals, contributing to a cleaner tomorrow for us all.

Awarded € 15,000

'Being an entrepreneur never occurred to me before getting in touch with the events and programmes organised by EIT Climate-KIC. They helped bring out the entrepreneur in me, and this award is now a major step in pursuing my goal of implementing the BioFlex technology in the real world. In 10 years’ time, I want to be converting one million tonnes of waste wood every year,' said Florence Gschwend.

EIT Venture Award–recognises Europe’s most promising ventures

Hans Constandt (Belgium), founder and CEO of Ontoforce, for DISQOVER, an innovative search tool that finds medical data faster, smarter and simpler to heal patients more effectively. DISQOVER aggregates data from an unlimited number of public, third-party and private sources. Supported by EIT Health, this advanced search technology will have a global impact on bringing drugs to market faster.

Awarded € 50,000

'We are becoming a world leader in semantic search, and the EIT Community has contributed in many ways to this success. Many of their experts advised us and helped us to pivot, optimise our pitch, meet customers and partners, review our materials, develop go-to-market strategies and much, much more. I accept this award on behalf of an extremely intelligent and motivated team that truly believes we can heal patients by democratising Big Data,' said Hans Constandt.

EIT Innovators Award–recognises innovation teams developing a product or service with a high potential for societal and economic impact

Martin Steinberg (Sweden), Project Leader at the Karolinska Institute, for the Stockholm3 Test (STHLM3), an innovative cancer-detecting blood test. The test detects the risk of aggressive prostate cancer by combining five protein markers, more than 100 genetic markers, clinical data and a proprietary algorithm. Developed with the support of EIT Health, this non-invasive blood test reduces the number of unnecessary biopsies by 50% compared to current clinical practice. 

Awarded € 50,000

'All the members of the STHLM3 team hope our work will have a significant positive effect on society by reducing individual harm from over-diagnosis, mortality and overall healthcare costs. Most importantly, aggressive cancers will be detected early in more men, giving them a greater chance of survival. EIT Health has been a catalyst for this project, and for the close collaboration between academia, industry and healthcare providers we needed for testing, validation and market access,' said Martin Steinberg.

EIT Audience Award – a new Award chosen by all participants of INNOVEIT

Carsten Mahrenholz is co-founder and CEO of COLDPLASMATECH GmbH, the company behind the innovative “Plasma Patch” – a Star Trek-like device that uses cold plasma to kill multi-resistant bacteria and treat chronic wounds. Carsten’s goal is to pioneer the next step in modern medicine, by “fighting a problem that could take us back to the Middle Ages: antibiotic resistance”.

'This Award is very important to us at COLDPLASMATECH, because it will help us on our journey to reach the patient. It proves that the product speaks to the people and this is what we want to do - bring this technology to the people,' said Carsten Mahrenholz.

'The EIT Awards is an opportunity to promote European entrepreneurs who bring solutions to today’s major challenges. This year’s winners and all of the nominees are true agents of change. Their vision, courage and inventiveness serve as a striking calling card for Europe and an inspiration to entrepreneurs and students everywhere,' said Martin Kern, EIT Interim Director.

The winners were chosen by an international jury from among 20 nominations. Each finalist was selected for driving European innovation through ground-breaking products, services and processes that address global challenges in the fields of climate, energy, digitisation, health and raw materials. This year’s list of nominees stood out for its high percentage of women entrepreneurs (8 finalists, an increase of 22% over last year) and the high number of nominees related to climate change products or services (35%) and digital technologies (22%).

The full list and profiles of the 2017 EIT Awards nominees can be found here.

Read this as a press release.

Media contact:

Magdalena Gryszko: , +36 307 889 875               

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