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Towards a European health-tech ecosystem through entrepreneurship

11 December 2020

European stakeholders embark on developing new virtual pre-accelerators combining business, IT and health care.

Our innovation ecosystem cannot afford silos. It needs support, access to funding and the link from education to the market”, declared Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth in her keynote address. The Commissioner spoke at a virtual stakeholder event organised jointly by JA Europe and Novartis, bringing together stakeholders from across Europe representing education, health care and business. The Covid-19 health crisis has made it even more urgent to re-imagine health care and bring more innovation and entrepreneurial thinking into this sector.

Based on the success of the Bulgarian pre-accelerator BEYOND, Junior Achievement and Novartis are piloting a first scale-up in Central and Eastern Europe, aimed at leveraging technology and “start-up” thinking in the medical field. By establishing a series of pre-accelerator hubs in digital health and innovation, the programme aims to generate a stronger ecosystem of innovators who will work to reimagine medicine as we know it. The virtual event was an opportunity for stakeholders to set out their common ambition of an innovative joint solution for the benefit of all European citizens. “Time has come to launch a virtual European pre-accelerator in the area of health care, bringing innovation and entrepreneurship into the sector through close collaboration between business, IT and health experts”, said Salvatore Nigro, CEO JA Europe

To help countries advance in their readiness to develop digital and AI-driven approaches in their health systems, the Novartis Foundation plans to launch a new HealthTech Innovation Dialogue Hub in 2021. According to Ann Aerts, Head of Novartis Foundation, the aim is “to nurture innovative HealthTech solutions to the most pressing health challenges of our time”.

The patient journey could serve as starting point to spur innovation, supported by the creation of ecosystems across the EU to co-create and boost digital health solutions and to build or reinforce cross-sectorial healthcare value chains”, added Roland Kreissig, Novartis Oncology General Manager Central Europe and Novartis Hungary

Milena Stoycheva, CEO JA Bulgaria called for connecting the different players, stakeholders and investors in the same space and one ecosystem: “This would allow creating a better environment for Europe to transform its intellectual and research potential in innovations that benefit all citizens and societies in Europe. Healthcare is probably the best place to do this”, she concluded.

We look forward to building on this collaboration in the coming months. In case you missed it, watch the full online event here!


About the project

Junior Achievement (JA) in Europe and many of JA national organisations are proud partners with Novartis in this revolutionary project to be piloted in Central and Eastern Europe, and aimed at fostering closer collaboration across sectors that have traditionally existed in separate and limited silos, and scaling-up local initiatives to regional and global level. JA and local Novartis offices from the following countries participating in the project: Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Cyprus, Malta, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The project will start with a pilot in Serbia, including the adaptation and implementation of a successful pre-accelerator programme from JA Bulgaria. More information is available on the project website: https://beyondaccelerate.com/europe-expansion.html

About JA Europe

JA Europe is the largest non-profit in Europe dedicated to preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship. JA Europe is a member of JA Worldwide® which for 100 years has delivered hands on, experiential learning in entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. JA creates pathways for employability, job creation and financial success. Last school year, the JA network in Europe reached almost 4 million young people across 40 countries with the support of nearly 100,000 business volunteers and over 140,000 teachers/educators.

Contact: Minna MELLERI, JA Europe. Email: minna@jaeurope.org 

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