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EIT Health Wild Card: €4 million in search of innovative health ideas


Under the new Wild Card programme, EIT Health consortium –the largest European body for innovation in healthy living and active ageing– has announced €4 million in funding for disruptive initiatives that help transform European healthcare and mitigate the social and economic impact of the progressive ageing of the population. The Universitat de Barcelona (UB), a core partner and promoter of EIT Health Spain, is one of the 14 European institutions that will offer advisory and incubation services to the two winning teams to turn their ideas into a business plan through of the Barcelona Entrepreneurship Institute (BIE), the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation (FBG) and the Barcelona Science Park (PCB). On Monday, January 29, an informative session will take place at the PCB.


The call for Wild Card Projects is open to entrepreneurs, academicians, researchers, engineers, business advisors, other experts and people who are motivated and creative from any country of the European Union. The candidates have to submit –individually or in small teams (maximum of three people), a groundbreaking idea to work on one of the two chosen challenged by the partners in EIT Health in this edition:

Smart Health, which sets the challenge of creating new systems that use artificial intelligence (AI) to swiftly interpret big data, thus allowing healthcare professionals across the EU to improve patient care.

Fight Back, which tasks candidates with building innovative solutions that tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, both by raising awareness and by enabling new processes and methodologies to manage it across the EU healthcare landscape.

“The Wild Card initiative is looking for innovative, risk-taking people with the ability to move the goalposts and who have unconventional ideas about the future of healthcare in the EU,” says Jorge Fernández, Innovation Director at EIT Health and Wild Card programme coordinator. “We think that right now, somewhere, there are people who have these ideas. Wild Card seeks to unearth them and provide them with the financial, business and research support needed to make them thrive.”

The selected candidates will compete in a final tournament, held from 16 to 20 April, in which their capabilities, knowledge and potential will be evaluated. The participants will be grouped into teams and, based on the profiles of the selected people, the projects will be created: two of which will be chosen to receive financial and business support.

The winning initiatives will be disruptive, high-risk technology projects with real commercial potential which focus on applied research to quickly and tangibly address one of the two challenges put forward by the EIT Health partners in this Wild Card session. 

From October onwards, the teams implementing them will receive €2 million in funding for each project over two years (at most €1 million per year). In lockstep, EIT Health’s partners and over a dozen business organisations and incubators connected to them will offer the winners the facilities and advice they need to draw up a business plan that will enable them to swiftly and tangibly achieve the project’s general purpose.

The Wild Card teams will have to choose which incubator and entity best suits their needs in terms of experience, facilities and location.

“EIT Health’s Spanish node seeks to be a major asset in this initiative by offering a number of incubators across the country to host the selected teams,” points out Marco Pugliese, Director of EIT Health Spain. “Not only are we offering incubators, but we also hope to muster the disruptive ideas of our innovative ecosystem to achieve a prominent presence in the session. We are convinced that in both Spain and Catalonia we will be able to play an outstanding and successful role.”

UB Group, one of the key players in the programme

The University of Barcelona (UB) ─an EIT Health Spain core partner─ will search for entrepreneur and innovative talent the UB Group generates, as well as in the Barcelona Entrepreneur Institute (BIE), and the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation (FBG). It will also promote innovative initiatives that result from the research in these fields of knowledge as candidates for the Wild Card projects.

According to the vice-rector for Outreach and Internationalization of the UB, Àlex Aguilar, “the EIT Health Wild Card program constitutes an excellent initiative for entrepreneurs and researchers of our innovation ecosystem. I am convinced they will show many interesting projects in the field of health, and it is a great opportunity to give a push to the most promising ideas and allow them to reach the market”.

The Barcelona Science Park (PCB), where EIT Health Spain is headquartered, is one of the European entities that were offered as Wild Card Incubator to provide the winners of this edition with the facilities and support services they need to turn their ideas into business plans that allow them to face the challenges of healthcare in Europe with a return on investment.

BIE and FBG –with headquarters at the PCB- will offer the teams the opportunity to access a deep and valuable mentorship during the whole project.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Catalonia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Ignasi Belda, CEO of the PCB. “There is no programme that allocates such generous funding to supporting entrepreneurship, so I would encourage all the entrepreneurs who have projects in these two fields to submit their applications.”

►There will be a briefing session at 4.30 p.m. on Monday 29 January at the PCB, during which Marco Pugliese, CEO of EIT Health Spain, will explain the Wild Card programme and answer questions related to the session. More information about this session [+]

► Applications for this year’s Wild Card Projects must be submitted on the website wildcard.eithealth.eu . The deadline is 5 p.m. on 9 March 2018.

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