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Montserrat Vendrell: “With EIT Health we are joining the Premiere League of health innovation in Europe”

EIT Health is seeking a CEO in Europe, where candidates from the catalan health sector are invited to apply

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“Now we’re joining the Premiere League of health research, education and innovation in Europe.” With this football metaphor, CEO of Biocat and the Barcelona Science Park (PCB) Montserrat Vendrell summed up the importance of EIT Health Spain, the Spanish node of the most important European initiative in health innovation, which will have a co-location center at the park. Today, the PCB hosted the public presentation of this initiative, one of the most ambitious in the health arena with public funds, that is kicking off with a budget of €2.1 billions.

“EIT Health will allow us to search for global solutions to the great challenges facing Europe in terms of health, like the ageing population, rising healthcare costs and training the professionals of the future, by combining public and private resources and with a horizon of 7-10 years, which will allow us to plan where we want to reach in the short term,” highlighted Montserrat Vendrell.

The event was presented by Dídac Ramírez, dean of the University of Barcelona, who sees EIT Health as “recognition of the excellence of this university.” The event presented both the general aims of EIT Health on a European level and the specific goals of the Spanish node. Josep Samitier, interim director of EIT Health Spain and director of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), highlighted that one of the main aims of the initiative is to “bring quality of life to the ageing population” in order to respond to increased life expectancy in Europe, where estimates say one in three citizens will be over 65 by 2060.  

For her part, Blanca Jordan, head of research and innovation at ATOS, explained the tools to be used for EIT Health, like multidisciplinary collaboration projects, a business accelerator and an educational campus of excellence. Additionally, Ramón Farré, professor in the department of physiology at the University of Barcelona, spoke about one of the other aims of EIT Health: to boost higher education programs geared towards innovation and entrepreneurship.

The event also featured Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation Carmen Vela. “EIT Health has some very ambitious goals but with the talent concentrated in the project, they will be achieved,” said Vela. Government of Catalonia Secretary General for Universities and Research Antoni Castellà noted that the co-location center "will take Barcelona’s capacities in innovation and education to an even higher level.” The event also featured Teresa de Rojas Galiana, general director of Planning, Assessment, Research, and Patient Care Quality for the Valencian Ministry of Health.

The EIT Health consortium is made up of 144 leading companies, universities and research centers from fourteen European countries and aims to generate roughly 80 new business ideas by the end of 2016 and 140 by 2018. In short, the project aims to create approximately 70 start-ups per year and have one million students participating in the programs promoted by EIT Health.

Coinciding with the presentation of the EIT Health Spanish node, the EIT Health has opened a call to select the CEO of EIT Health in Europe. The selected person will be a leader with the ability to form the KIC health and support for the initiative that will endure over time. Qualified candidates from all sectors are invited to apply for this position and find the following link all the info on the offer.

EIT Health is now seeking to appoint its inaugural Chief Executive Officer (CEO). S/he will be a visionary leader with the capability to build EIT Health and support its enduring success beyond. The successful candidate will demonstrate strong leadership and managerial skills to develop this unique organisation. Qualified candidates from all sectors are invited to apply. Further information, including details of how to apply, at this link.

Alliance of knowledge and entrepreneurship for EIT Health Spain

EIT Health has nodes in Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden and Germany. The University of Barcelona, with support from Biocat, is heading up the Spanish node, made up of a total of 25 organizations –companies, universities, research centers, hospitals and technology centers– that are committed to innovation in health and its impact on improving quality of life for citizens. The core partners include Ferrer, IESE, Polytechnic University of Madrid, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) of the CERCA network, Biomechanics Institute of Valencia, Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic and Madrid Hospital Consortium.

The other associate partners in the Spanish node, in addition to Biocat, are: GMV, Societat de prevenció FREMAP, Linkcare, PAU Education, BIOPOLOIS SL, Inveniam innovation, La Caixa Foundation, LEITAT, Sant Joan de Déu Healthcare Park, Madrid Health Service (SERMAS), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Catalan Agency for Health Information, Assessment and Quality, SEDECAL, OSM, Alphasip and Telefónica.

EIT and the Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) in health

Last December, the European Institute of Technology (EIT) –the European body founded in 2008 to foster innovation and entrepreneurial initiative in Europe– set up the Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) in health, EIT Health. 

The first three KICs were set up in 2009, focusing on climate change, information technology and renewable energy. The EU decided to expand the activities of the EIT between 2014 and 2020 under the Horizon 2020 Framework Program for Research and Innovation, earmarking a total of €2.7 billions.

The call for bids for a KIC in health, along with another focusing on raw materials, was opened on 14 February 2014. Additionally, the EIT aims to launch another call for the food4future KIC in 2016 and one on urban mobility in 2018.


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Josep Samitier, interim director of EIT Health Spain, during his presentation at the PCB. - Photo: © J. M. Rue / UB

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